"I'm Pregnant and Getting My High School Diploma": How Educational Attainment Scripts Contribute to Secondary Educational Resilience among Adolescent Mothers.
Abstract: By identifying processes that contribute to educational resilience
this study adds support to research that emphasizes adaptive functioning and outcomes among
adolescent mothers, and focuses on adolescent mothers' agency in influencing their
educational pathways. Using a resilience framework and grounded theory qualitative
methodology, this investigation sought to identify the comple... read morex interaction of individual
and contextual processes that facilitate educational resilience during adolescent mothers'
first pregnancy or their first year postpartum. Forty-five White adolescent mothers who
experienced cumulative ecological stress were divided into three groups according to their
educational trajectories: pursuing or having completed secondary education with no history
of interruptions, having interrupted but then resumed secondary education, or having
dropped out. The first two of these groups were considered educationally resilient.
Forty-one of the mothers identified one of the following risk factors to their educational
success: academic difficulties or low school engagement, ecological stressors, or a
combination of these. All but one participant reported having received school-based
support. The main contributor to educational resilience in this sample was the
educational attainment scripts possessed by the young mothers.
Three scripts were identified which served as frameworks for action: an
educational attainment script that accommodated pregnancy, an
educational attainment script that was activated by pregnancy,
and an obstacles to educational attainment script. In this
sample, pregnancy was more likely to motivate or bolster secondary educational attainment
ambitions and activities, or improve school focus and performance, than it was to deter
educational attainment. Pregnancy did not motivate pursuit of educational attainment when
young mothers did not possess a strong educational attainment
script that was flexible to potential threats to educational success.
Critical differences between the young women in this study who were educationally resilient
and those who were educationally vulnerable were perceptions of ecological stressors as
obstacles to the pursuit of educational attainment, and the use of personal functioning
strategies to respond to such obstacles, as guided by educational attainment
scripts. Programs that offered an alternative to the standard route to a
secondary degree, and programs that targeted academic-, stress-, or pregnancy-related needs
were also important for this population's educational success.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Tufts University, 2012.
Submitted to the Dept. of Child Development.
Advisor: Jayanthi Mistry.
Committee: Martha Pott, Sarah Davila, and Erin Seaton.
Keywords: Developmental psychology, Educational psychology, and Women's studies.read less