An Examination of Attachment and Aspirations in Diverse Rural Youth: The Role of Peers and Teachers
Date of Award
Open Access Dissertation
Matthew J. Irvin
This dissertation consists of three studies that examined diverse rural youths’ educational and rural aspirations. These studies have the potential to inform rural communities, educators, and parents by providing novel understandings of how peers and teachers in mathematics and science classrooms influence diverse rural youths’ rural attachment, and aspirations (i.e., educational, rural residential, community, and proximity). Thus, the purpose of this dissertation was to investigate rural teachers and their diverse students from White, African American, Hispanic, and Native American backgrounds. In particular, the studies within this dissertation examine how teachers’ social connectedness to their rural communities relates to their teacher leadership abilities, and the influence of peers and teachers in mathematics and science classrooms on youths’ rural attachment, educational expectations, and aspirations (i.e., rural residential, community, and proximity).
The purpose of Study 1 was to examine the relationship between rural students’ perceptions of their teachers’ teacher leadership abilities and teacher social connectedness to their rural school communities. Participants of this study were 19 mathematics and science teachers who participated in a 5-year teacher leadership professional development program and their students (N = 6900). This study used mixed-methods analyses. The results from interviews revealed four teacher proximity groups: homegrown, transplant, more socially connected commuter, and less socially connected commuters. Then, oneway ANOVA was used to examine if teachers’ teacher leadership abilities differed based on teachers’ proximity. Results revealed that based on the perceptions of teachers’students, transplant teachers had significantly lower mean score in teacher leadership abilities compared to other groups. Additionally, interviews confirmed these findings while showing the strength of other groups. Overall, results suggest that teachers’ social connectedness to their schools may promote teacher leadership.
The purpose of Study 2 was to investigate how race/ethnicity moderated the relationship between peer and teacher classroom belonging in mathematics and science classrooms with rural attachment, rural community, and proximity aspirations among diverse middle and high school students. This study was a part of a 5-year teacher leadership development program, Thus, in our analyses, students were nested in their teachers. This study included 20 teachers and 6616 students. Results revealed the influence of peer and teacher classroom belonging on diverse rural youths’ attachment and aspirations. Teacher classroom belonging had a positive influence especially for Hispanic rural youth compared to White youth. However, peer classroom belonging had an adverse impact on Hispanic youths’ rural attachment. Results also indicated that while minority youth had a lower rural attachment, African American youth had higher community aspirations. Overall, increases in perception of peer and teacher classroom belonging have positive influences on rural youths’ attachment and aspirations. Our findings suggest that fostering teacher classroom belonging among minority youth in rural communities may be an effective path in promoting attachment and aspirations.
The purpose of Study 3 was to investigate whether the influence of peer and teacher classroom belonging were as well evident on diverse rural youths’ educational expectations and rural residential aspirations. Participants included 6616 science and mathematics students in one rural Southeastern state. Participants of this study were part of a larger teacher leadership developmental program. Thus, in the analyses students were nested in their teachers (N = 20). Using multinominal logistic regression, we estimated a regression model on the two outcome variables (i.e., educational expectations, and rural residential aspirations). Findings indicated that higher ability beliefs in mathematics and science classrooms were related to expectations of completing more education for Black, White, Hispanic, and youth of other races/ethnicity. Additionally, when White students and students of other races/ethnicity experienced more classroom support from their peers, they expected to obtain more education. Black youth who had higher teacher classroom belonging were more likely to have rural residential aspirations compared to nonrural residential aspirations. On the other side, Black, White, and students of other races/ethnicity were more likely to have indecisive rural residential aspirations. Overall, findings provide both theoretical and practical implications for rural parents, teachers, and school counselors.
Irdam, G. B.(2022). An Examination of Attachment and Aspirations in Diverse Rural Youth: The Role of Peers and Teachers. (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from https://scholarcommons.sc.edu/etd/6978