Instrumental or Expressive: The Meaning of College and the Educational Pathways of Disadvantaged Young Mothers

Nicole Deterding, Harvard University

I employ an integrated, mixed-method approach to data analysis to understand how a group of economically disadvantaged young mothers make decisions about post-secondary education over a seven-year period. Using data from The Resilience in Survivors of Katrina (RISK) Project, I match four waves of longitudinal survey data to in-depth interviews with a subset of 100 survey respondents. By integrating survey and interview data on a single respondent from the beginning of the analytic process, I am able to understand each woman’s narrative in the context of her unfolding life course trajectory. I find that the narrative meaning a young woman attaches to a college degree is related both to her general life course circumstances reported in survey data and to the form her higher education pathway takes. I discuss the analytical challenges and opportunities accompanying my approach, many of which apply to mixed-methods data analysis more broadly.

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Presented in Session 138: Mixed Methods Research