Applying the theory of planned behavior to educational goals and intentions: understanding the challenges and views of low income African American adolescents using a mixed methods approach
The purpose of this study was to explore the goals and challenges of low-income African American adolescents as it relates to their educational goals and aspirations. A mixed-methods approach was employed using qualitative interviews and survey data. The Theory of Planned Behavior was utilized in order to assess how the attitudes of adolescents, the attitudes of significant others and perceived control contributed to adolescent intentions to complete high school and attend college and how their intentions relate to their current academic performance. The data obtained was analyzed separately and collectively in order to develop an overall interpretation. The findings suggest that based on the Theory of Planned Behavior, two patterns of adolescent profiles emerged: intentional thinkers and unintentional thinkers. Each profile will be discussed in terms of individual attitudes, perceived attitudes of significant others and perceived barriers as well as how this relates to current academic performance, intentions, expectations and school effort. Gender differences also emerged within this population. The implications that this research has concerning targeted interventions for low-income African American adolescents will be discussed as well as future research and limitations.