Mexican-origin adolescents' educational expectation trajectories: Intersection of nativity, sex, and socioeconomic status

Norma J. Perez-Brena, Melissa Y. Delgado, Sue A. Rodríguez De Jesús, Kimberly Updegraff, Adriana J. Umaña-Taylor

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Expectancy value theory and a cultural-ecological framework are integrated in this study to examine the trajectories of 246 Mexican-origin adolescents' (Mage = 12.52, SDage = 0.58; 51% girls, 62% U.S.-born) educational expectations across eight years. Findings from a multilevel growth model revealed that early adolescents expected to complete a post-bachelor's degree, but expectations declined in middle adolescence and improved in late adolescence. This pattern was more pronounced for immigrant, compared to U.S-born, adolescents. Higher socioeconomic status was associated with higher expectations. Boys and girls differed in their trajectories, such that boys showed a curvilinear trajectory and girls showed a stable trajectory. Nativity moderated these sex differences. Immigrant boys showed curvilinear trajectories that dipped in middle adolescence and immigrant girls showed a declining trajectory. In contrast, U.S.-born boys and girls showed linear and stable trajectories. The discussion addresses suggestions for targeted interventions with at-risk subgroups during a sensitive period in adolescence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14-24
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Applied Developmental Psychology
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017



  • Adolescence
  • Educational expectations
  • Mexican-origin
  • Nativity
  • Sex
  • Socioeconomic status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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