Date of Award:

1999

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

Psychology

Advisor/Chair:

Richard N. Roberts

Abstract

Understanding the adaptational responses and ecocultural niche of the Navajo adolescent mother from her perspective provides a richness of information about a little-studied population . The overall purpose of this study was to explore the ecocultural factors determined to be significant in the decision of a Navajo adolescent mother to remain in high school or drop out of high school. Thirty Navajo adolescent mothers recruited from two small reservation towns in eastern Arizona participated in the study. Navajo adolescent mothers in the study participated in a one and one half hour semistructured accommodations interview, and completed a Family Resource Scale and a Family Support Scale. An assessment tool, the Bayley Scales of Infant Development, was administered to infants and toddlers of Navajo adolescent mothers. Computation of effect sizes determined the magnitude of difference between the two groups. Findings indicated that (a) Navajo adolescent mothers who remained in high school had more family support than those who dropped out of high school, (b) Navajo adolescent mothers who remained in high school had more family resources than those who dropped out of high school, and (c) Navajo adolescent mothers who remained in high school made greater adaptations than those who dropped out of high school.

An additional question focused on the relationship between Navajo adolescent mothers' current enrollment in school and the cognitive and motor performance development of their children. Findings indicated that children born to Navajo adolescent mothers in the drop-out group scored higher on both the cognitive and motor performance tests of development than those infants born to the in-school group mothers.

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