EXPLORING HOW THE RURAL SCHOOLING EXPERIENCE OF INDIANA HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS INFORMS PERCEPTIONS, BELIEFS, AND ATTITUDES ABOUT POSTSECONDARY ASPIRATIONS
The purpose of this study was to explore the rural schooling experience of ten high school students attending a small high school located in a rural county in Indiana regarding college and postsecondary aspirations. Specifically, do they have a positive, negative, or neutral view of college? Who or what is influencing their perceptions, values, and beliefs regarding college? Also, this study focused on rural Indiana, providing a Middle America “rural focus” because it is not prevalent in the literature. This qualitative single case study used a sociocultural framework and utilized information gathered from student personal essays, and semi-structured focus group interviews, which provided insights into how rural students perceive college. In addition to the student perspectives, the high school principal and college and career guidance counselor were also interviewed to provide context regarding the culture of the school, community, family involvement, and socioeconomic metrics and how these factors influence the educational and occupational aspirations of students at the site school. Each interview was recorded, transcribed, and coded for data analysis. The data were analyzed using open coding as articulated by Given (2008) as well as the eight-step focus coding process articulated by Tesch (1990) to identify emergent themes. Six themes emerged as providing perceptions, attitudes, and beliefs regarding college as well as the sociocultural and habitus influences concerning educational and occupational aspirations: (1) schooling experience; (2) juxtaposition of postsecondary education; (3) college is expensive; (4) guidance counselor- too many hats and limited resources; (5) influences of educational and occupational aspirations; (6) athletics – more than an extracurricular activity. Results showed the significance of the secondary schooling experience and the juxtaposition of postsecondary education, specifically concerning skilled trade occupations, especially for male students. The cost of college was discerning for the students as well as the burden of paying for college. Attitudes, perceptions, and beliefs differed based on perceived academic ability and gender. This study offers insights into the cultural role of the family, school, and community regarding postsecondary aspirations and how to increase postsecondary matriculation rate of rural youth.
- Doctor of Philosophy
- Educational Studies
- West Lafayette