In this article, I present research evidence corroborating that students of Chinese descent are a high-achieving clique compared to other ethnic and cultural groups. A prominent explanation invokes cultural values highly emphasized in Chinese societies, especially those focusing on filial piety and educational achievement. However, for Chinese immigrant adolescents exposed to another cultural model and undergoing developmental changes, the motivation mechanisms underlying their academic achievement are more complex. I posit that this complexity can be understood and unraveled by contextual theories of acculturation and human development. Moreover, expanding on the cultural-developmental perspective as advocated by others, I explicate specifically how acculturative and developmental processes are intertwined to guide the individual’s internalization of cultural imperatives. To illustrate this framework, I draw insights from interviewing three Chinese immigrant adolescents in the United States. The theoretical and empirical underpinnings discussed in this paper aim to contribute knowledge to the literature by demonstrating the role of acculturation and development in Chinese immigrant students’ psychological processing of parental message concerning academic success which, in turn, contributes to their academic achievement motivation.
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