Participation Type

Paper

Session Title

Session 9.04 Education

Presentation #1 Title

A Qualitative Life Course Study: Significant Life Events in the Lives of Appalachian First-generation College Graduates

Presentation #1 Abstract or Summary

Traditionally, the Appalachian region has struggled with poverty and isolation. Although in recent decades many of the outer Appalachian counties have stabilized economically the central region of Appalachia that includes West Virginia, southeastern Ohio and Eastern Kentucky continues to have the highest concentration of distressed and at-risk counties in the country. One of the most effective ways of combating poverty and isolation is through education, yet, educational opportunities for Appalachian youth have been limited. This study used a qualitative approach; six Appalachian youths who had either recently graduated from university or who were in their junior or senior year of college took part in semi-structured interviews. Each participant also designated a parent who was also interviewed. Life Course Theory was used to analyze the life stories of first generation college graduates from Appalachia in order to identify the experiences that encouraged them to attend and persist to college graduation. Instead of focusing on what holds them back, this research sought to discover what propelled them forward. The study identified family, school and community experiences that Appalachian youth considered to be influential in their decision to pursue postsecondary study. The research also suggests that technology played a role in their decision to attend and then stay at a postsecondary institution.

At-A-Glance Bio- Presenter #1

Peggy Henderson Murphy earned her Masters degree in English at Marshall University and is currently completing her dissertation toward a Doctoral degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She also teaches as an adjunct instructor for Columbus State Community College and Tiffin University.

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Mar 29th, 4:45 PM Mar 29th, 6:00 PM

A Qualitative Life Course Study: Significant Life Events in the Lives of Appalachian First-generation College Graduates

Harris Hall 136

Traditionally, the Appalachian region has struggled with poverty and isolation. Although in recent decades many of the outer Appalachian counties have stabilized economically the central region of Appalachia that includes West Virginia, southeastern Ohio and Eastern Kentucky continues to have the highest concentration of distressed and at-risk counties in the country. One of the most effective ways of combating poverty and isolation is through education, yet, educational opportunities for Appalachian youth have been limited. This study used a qualitative approach; six Appalachian youths who had either recently graduated from university or who were in their junior or senior year of college took part in semi-structured interviews. Each participant also designated a parent who was also interviewed. Life Course Theory was used to analyze the life stories of first generation college graduates from Appalachia in order to identify the experiences that encouraged them to attend and persist to college graduation. Instead of focusing on what holds them back, this research sought to discover what propelled them forward. The study identified family, school and community experiences that Appalachian youth considered to be influential in their decision to pursue postsecondary study. The research also suggests that technology played a role in their decision to attend and then stay at a postsecondary institution.