Date of Award

2015

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

Abstract

A vast literature has examined bilinguals’ strengths in executive functions (EFs) without considering how language brokering, or translating frequently for family and friends, relates to such advantages in EFs. At the same time, Latinos students – many of whom are bilingual – are the largest minority group attending college today in the U.S., despite being less likely to receive a bachelor’s degree. The overarching goal of the present study was to explore whether language brokering practices among Latino emerging adults led to better cognitive skills and ultimately greater academic achievement in college. Data were collected from multiple cohorts of bilingual undergraduates (N = 430), who released their academic records and reported on their language brokering practices, EFs, and language proficiency. A subsample of Latino bilinguals (n = 83) completed behavioral tasks measuring EFs and language proficiency. Although the findings were largely null, there were exceptions. For instance, results from OLS regression models revealed that Latino bilinguals who did not broker had significantly better ACT scores, and brokering posed as a risk factor to the shifting component of EFs. All three aspects of EFs were linked to better academic scores. However, bootstrapped mediation and moderated mediation models were not significant. This dissertation concludes with future directions for this line of research, particularly in regards to measurement and analyses, which may uncover hidden benefits of language brokering.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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