Dominican students' voices on academic success in a middle school

Joanne Medina, Fordham University


The purpose of this case study was to identify factors that contributed to the academic success of high achieving Dominican middle school students in a public school in New York City. The factors examined included the role of parents, teachers, peers, and participants' perceptions of themselves (self-perceptions). The study also examined how first and second language proficiency impact on academic success. The participants in this investigation were 9 academically successful intermediate school Dominican students (5 females and 4 males). They were selected from grades 6, 7, and 8 and they ranged in age from 12 to 15. These participants had been enrolled in the New York City public school system from 2 to 5 years. Instruments included a student interview, a parent interview, 3 student essays, and 2 parent essays. Academic achievement data were obtained from students' records. Interviews and essays were analyzed qualitatively. Data collected led to the following conclusions: Participants valued their parents' opinion; they perceived them as being supportive, encouraging, and having high expectations regarding their educational performance. Regardless of the parents' educational background, all participating parents wanted better educational opportunities for their children. Participants reported having a positive relationship with their teachers. The participants also noted that teachers maintained a positive rapport with their parents as reflected in parent-teacher conferences. Participants reported that most of their peers were doing well in school and planned to attend college. They were cognizant not to have their education be jeopardized by their less successful peers. Participants stated that they were proud of their Dominican heritage, although 5 of the 9 participants identified with both cultures (Dominican and American). The majority of the participants spoke both English and Spanish at home. They perceived the role of the first and second language to be equally important in their academic success. Participants perceived themselves as successful students because they excelled academically, their parents were proud of them, and they were liked by their classmates and teachers. All participants believed in their ability to go to college and succeed in the future. In summary, the findings of the study reflect that the academic success of the participants in this study was related to parental, teacher, peer, self-perception, and language factors. Adults impacted on participants' academic success.

Subject Area

Bilingual education|Multicultural education|Educational psychology

Recommended Citation

Medina, Joanne, "Dominican students' voices on academic success in a middle school" (2001). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3021708.