Applied Psychology OPUS

The Role of Community Connection for Immigrant Youth's School Engagement

by Sammy F. Ahmed

Acculturative stress has been found to put individuals at risk for poor psychological and physical health. However, its impact on school engagement has yet to be entirely understood. Furthermore, the ways that immigrant students cope with acculturative stress has not been fully recognized. Community connection, as a source of resilience during this transitional period, has the potential to be a buffer against acculturative stress. Hence, this study examined the relation between acculturative stress and school engagement among urban adolescent high school students using a cross-sectional design (N = 345), as well as exploring the potential moderating role of community connection. Measures of community connection included the extent of participants’ feelings about their immediate community. Measures of school engagement included cognitive, behavioral and relational school based engagement. The data used for this study were drawn from the first wave of the New York City Academic and Social Engagement Study (NYCASES, P.I. Selcuk R. Sirin) in the spring of 2008 (Mage=16.08 years, SD=1.29). Barron and Kenny’s (1986) moderation method revealed that when controlling for generation, socio-economic status and ethnicity/race of the participant, acculturative stress (β = -.2, t = -3.5, p = .001) and community connection (β = .07, t = 2.16, p = .03) significantly predicted relational school engagement. Additionally, community connection moderated the relation between acculturative stress and relational school engagement (β = .15, t = 2.87, p = .004), accounting for 10% of the variance (F(338, 6) = 5.8, p < .001).