Date of Award

2001

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Education

Program

Educational Psychology, Ph.D.

First Advisor

Donna J. Habenicht

Second Advisor

Wilfred G. A. Futcher

Third Advisor

Elsie P. Jackson

Abstract

Problem. Information on Hispanic children and their families is limited. More research activity is crucial in the light of the rapidly expanding population of Latino/Hispanics. Mexican families present a particular challenge to clinicians and to treatment settings, as well as to researchers. The impact of acculturation on psychological assessment instruments is largely unknown. This study sought to use the Kinetic Family Drawing (KFD) as a tool to gain information about how differences in acculturation are reflected through drawings done by children of Mexican descent.

Method. Private and public schools with representation of Mexican-American and Caucasian children from rural, semi-rural, small cities, and urban areas were selected in central and north Texas. Subjects were non-clinical children, 320 of Mexican descent and 114 Caucasian- Americans in Grades 3 through 6. Subjects were assigned to different acculturation levels utilizing criteria by Olmedo (1980) and Padilla (1980). Children were interviewed and drew KFDs, which were analyzed qualitatively and quantitatively to ascertain different acculturation levels.

Results. Levels of acculturation were clearly evident in the KFDs of these children. Many traditional Mexican family values are replaced gradually by American values. The variables of place of birth, length of time lived in America, and language preference all have a relationship with the acculturation process. Less acculturated Mexican family members were more often drawn engaged in work-related activities with defined roles to help the family survive in a new country. More leisure activities were drawn by the more acculturated children and by Caucasian children. Higher levels of communication and interaction levels were drawn by more acculturated than by less acculturated children.

Conclusion. Levels of acculturation were clearly portrayed in the KFDs of Mexican-descent children. Although still holding some of their traditional cultural values, Mexicans gradually adopt values and activities similar to those of the American culture. Similar studies are needed to enhance the understanding of other minority children's acculturation process.

Subject Area

Mexican American children, Mexican Americans--Cultural assimilation, Kinetic Family Drawing Test.

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