Educational Attainment Expectations, Perceptions of Adult Social Support at School, and Perceptions of Barriers: School-Based Pathways to Educational Success among Black Youth Public Deposited

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  • March 21, 2019
  • Perkins, Katherine
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience
  • This doctoral dissertation is an empirical investigation of the development of educational attainment expectations among African American adolescents. High expectations are predictive of student academic engagement and achievement outcomes, but the development and maintenance of such expectations are understudied among African-American youth. Data were drawn from the longitudinal Maryland Adolescent Development in Multiple Contexts Study (MADICS) (Eccles, 1997), and included N=920 students who participated in Grade 7, Grade 8, Grade 11, 1- year post-secondary, and 3- years post-secondary. Differential patterns of stability and change in educational attainment expectations from middle school to high school were found. Hypotheses that gender and socioeconomic status differentially predict likelihood of class membership, and class membership differentially predicted likelihood of college enrollment were partially supported. The second aim of the study was to longitudinally model the gap between students’ aspirations and expectations from middle school to the end of high school, which were expected to differ by gender and SES group. All groups showed a decline in the gap over time, but low-income girls began Grade 7 with the largest differential compared to all other gender and SES groups. Whereas trajectories were related to college enrollment 1- year post-secondary, their predictive power disappeared by 3- years post-secondary. Student perceptions of admired and supportive adults in the schooling context were investigated as factors shaping the development of student educational attainment expectations. Findings suggested that presence of an admired adult in Grade 7 is positively related to student educational attainment expectations above the effects of GPA, gender, and socioeconomic status. Students’ perceptions of adult social capital fell uniformly from Grade 7 to Grade 11. Data suggest that students maintain high expectations in spite of negative perceptions of adults at school. Students’ perceptions of barriers due to racial discrimination increased from middle school to high school, whereas their perceptions of gender discrimination barriers decreased. Students’ perceptions of barriers were positively related to educational attainment only in the presence of supportive adults, supporting critical awareness postulates and underscoring the need for new measurement tools. Contributions, future directions, and limitations are discussed in relation to motivational theory.
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Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Gariépy, Jean-Louis
  • Kurtz-Costes, Beth
  • Ornstein, Peter
  • Jones, Deborah
  • Telzer, Eva
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2017

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