Predicting Educational and Career Expectations of Low Income Latino and Non-Latino High School Students: Contributions of Sociopolitical Development Theory and Self-Determination Theory
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The purpose of this study is to clarify the relationship between sociopolitical development, autonomous motivation, and educational and career outcomes among low income Latino and non-Latino high school students and to explore the socioeconomic and ethnocultural differences among these relationships. This study is informed by Sociopolitical Development Theory (SPD) and Self-Determination Theory (SDT). Both SPD and SDT are frameworks that have been applied to the educational experiences of low-income and ethnocultural minority students in previous research. In this study, I tested a model to examine the relationship of sociopolitical development and career and educational outcomes for a diverse sample of high school students as mediated by autonomous motivation, a key feature of SDT. Structural equation modeling was used to test whether the data from a diverse sample of high school students (N = 1196) fit the proposed model. Differences in model fit for subsamples of Latino and non-Latino participants and for lower and higher SES participants also were explored. Results suggest that high school students' sociopolitical development predicts career and educational outcomes, and this relationship was partially mediated by autonomous motivation. Model fit did not vary as a function of SES or ethnicity. Results lend confidence to the utility of SDT and SPD in predicting educational and career outcomes for high school students. Interventions that promote SPD and autonomous motivation are described. Strengths and limitations of the study are discussed.