The home environment of gifted Puerto Rican children: Family factors which support high achievement

Date of Completion

January 1991


Education, Sociology of|Education, Special|Sociology, Individual and Family Studies




Hispanic Americans, the fastest growing student population in the United States, may be the most undereducated group in America. Of concern to educators are indications that Hispanics have the highest dropout rate, are overrepresented in remedial programs, and are poorly represented in gifted programs.^ The conceptual framework for this study was based on the researcher's proposal that when analyzing inequalities in children's achievement, it is necessary to study the differences in learning environments provided and supported by their families. Although much research has been done to determine how the family environment affects achievement, few researchers have directly studied minority populations. Current information regarding Hispanic Americans, however, suggests that the family environment of high achieving Hispanics may be different from the mainstream culture. The purpose of this study was to examine the perceptions of gifted Puerto Rican students to identify family factors which may contribute to high achievement.^ The methodology used in this study was qualitative and phenomenological. Data were collected through written questionnaires and in-depth interviews of ten gifted Puerto Rican high school students and their parents, and inductive analysis was used to uncover eight common factors which supported academic achievement. These factors included: press for achievement; press for language development; high educational and occupational aspirations; strong family support system; family bond; optimistic outlook/lack of defeatism; discomfort with cultural stereotypes/reaction to teacher and community expectations; school and extracurricular involvement/"social bonding". Four additional factors described by individual subjects were identified as variant themes. These variant themes were: role models outside the family; outstanding teachers; consistently high teacher expectations; intrinsic drive to succeed. Explanations of the roles the factors played in supporting high academic achievement were also derived from the data. ^