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Hope in the Social Environment: Factors Affecting Future Aspirations and School Self-Efficacy for Youth in Urban Environments

Abstract

Having a sense of hope and aspirations for the future are often conceptualized as components of resilience for youth in urban environments. However, less is known about the factors that may influence how young people develop their future aspirations, and how those aspirations may impact their experiences at school. This study uses structural equation modeling to identify some potential pathways through which parental relationships and neighborhood environments may impact perceptions of future success and associations between future aspirations and self-efficacy in school settings for adolescents in urban environments. Data from a self-efficacy questionnaire completed by 489 participants in the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods (mean age 17.2) were used to test the fit of our conceptual model. The analyses indicated strong relationships among the variables and a robust model fit, as assessed by multiple fit indices. The findings suggest that several factors, including neighborhood safety and supportive parental relationships, can help youth maintain hope for the future and that such future aspirations can bolster adolescents’ sense of self-efficacy in school. Implications of these findings for social work theory, practice, policy, and research are described.

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Correspondence to Henrika McCoy.

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McCoy, H., Bowen, E.A. Hope in the Social Environment: Factors Affecting Future Aspirations and School Self-Efficacy for Youth in Urban Environments. Child Adolesc Soc Work J 32, 131–141 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10560-014-0343-7

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Keywords

  • Adolescents
  • Aspirations
  • Neighborhood
  • School
  • Self-efficacy
  • Urban