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Motivation and Achievement in Rural Appalachia (MARA)


Researchers in the P20 Motivation and Learning Lab are currently working with schools in eastern Kentucky to examine the relationship between cultural factors associated with rurality and the academic motivation and achievement of rural students in the region. First-generation college students are typically defined as students whose parents have not attended college. Cultural influences may help to shape these students’ beliefs that they can successfully transition from high school to college.

The majority of adults in eastern Kentucky have not completed a college degree. Many high school students are potential first-generation college students. This region provides a unique opportunity to examine the intersection of sociocultural factors, the formal school environment, and students’ beliefs in predicting academic success and college intentions.


Current Projects:

Does Thinking I Am Poor Matter? Perceived Socioeconomic Status, Self-efficacy, and Achievement

The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship among perceived socioeconomic status (SES)ses, math self-efficacy, and math achievement for middle and high school students in a high-poverty Appalachian county. Researchers have documented positive correlations among SES, self-efficacy, and achievement (Wiederkehr, 2015), but little is known about how perceived SES influences these variables. Participants (N = 433) were students in grades six through twelve who completed an online survey measuring math self-efficacy and perceived SES relative to all Americans and to others in their county—administrators provided achievement scores. A one-way ANOVA comparing school level (middle/high) and perceived SES indicated significantly lower perceptions of SES relative to all Americans for high school students. Results of Pearson r correlations aligned with previous research and found a positive correlation between perceived SES relative to others in the county and achievement, as well as a positive correlation between achievement and self-efficacy.