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Relationships that create confidence : understanding postsecondary academic choices of Mexican heritage high school graduates in light of influential relationships, self-efficacy, and mathematical experiences


This study examines Mexican heritage high school graduates' postsecondary academic choices through a Social Capital and Self-Efficacy lens. Mathematical experiences and the relationships within which these experiences took place are considered. A cross-sectional recruiting design was used to find out if measures of academic self-efficacy that were recalled by participants changed as time since graduation increased. Three graduates were selected from each of the classes of 1998, 2003, 2006, and 2007 (n=12) from a large suburban high school in southern California. The participants represented three postsecondary academic paths: university, community college, and experimentation. The experimentation group is defined by a lack of long- term goals for their education or employment at the time of graduation from high school. Data was collected using semi-structured interviews. Interview transcripts were analyzed for relationships, self-efficacy and mathematical experiences. Specifically, participants answered questions about influential people in their lives during high school and about their experiences with mathematics before and after high school. An analysis of participants' course- taking and outcomes was derived from high school academic records. The findings of this study indicate that the development of social capital through influential relationships with institutional agents varies categorically. Peers and teachers were the most significant categories of people in the lives of informants during high school. Academic self-efficacy, as defined by mathematics student identity and mathematics course expectations, was enhanced by the presence of higher levels of social capital. Graduates with high levels of self-efficacy for mathematics expected that mathematics courses would be easier for them. Loci of control orientations for the informants were closely aligned with postsecondary outcomes. Graduates who went to 4-year universities had internal LOC while community college and experimentation graduates had external LOC.

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