Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Communication and Information

Major Professor

John W. Haas

Committee Members

Kenneth J. Levine, Michael J. Palenchar


The purpose of this study was to explore and identify factors that might increase the probability that a high school student will pursue post-secondary education. An understanding of these factors can help state government appropriately design policies, programs, and public awareness initiatives to persuade more youth to achieve higher levels of education. A review of persuasion and education literature revealed 17 possible variables as determinants of a student’s behavioral intention towards continuing education, seven of which were developed through factor analysis.

The data utilized in this study was collected by researchers in the Center for Business and Economic Research under a contract with the Tennessee Office of the Comptroller of the Treasury to study Tennesseans’ attitudes about education. The paper and pencil Scantron survey was conducted in 39 public high schools and 3 private high schools across the state of Tennessee and resulted in usable responses from 10,976 high school juniors and seniors.

Analysis showed that the demographic, individual characteristic, and external and internal factor variables of students who express the behavioral intention to continue their education differ from those who do not at the 95% significance level. Further, boys and girls show different behavioral intentions towards continuing education as well as determinants. The multivariate econometric analysis using a probit model showed the relative effects each determinant has on the probability that a student will express an intention to continue their education. Ideas for strategic message development based on the characteristics and determinants of these students are offered.

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