Stutter-Step Models of Performance in School
Morgan, Stephen L.; Todd, Jennifer J.; Weeden, Kim A.; Leenman, Theodore S.
To evaluate a stutter-step model of academic performance in high school, this article adopts a unique measure of the beliefs of 12,591 high school sophomores from the Education Longitudinal Study, 2002-2006. Verbatim responses to questions on occupational plans are coded to capture specific job titles, the listing of multiple jobs, and the listing of multiple jobs with divergent characteristics. The educational requirements of detailed jobs, as specified in the Department of Labor's Occupational Information Network database, are then matched to all jobs that students list within their plans. Students with uncertain beliefs about their occupational futures are then shown to have lower levels of commitment to and performance in school. These results support the conjecture that uncertainty about the future has consequences for the short-run behavior that determines important educational outcomes, beyond the effects that are commonly attributed to existing models of performance.
This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in Social Forces following peer review. The version of record is available online at: https://doi.org/10.1093/sf/sot037. Final version published as: Morgan, Stephen L., Theodore Leenman, Jennifer Todd, and Kim A. Weeden. 2013. Stutter-Step Models of Performance in School. Social Forces 91(4):1451- 1474.