Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Education, Ed.D.



First Advisor

Dr. Nicole Ralston

LC Subjects

Advanced placement programs (Education); Education, Secondary; High school students; Multicultural education


This study examined the perceptions of first-year Advanced Placement (AP) students; specifically traditionally underrepresented AP students from a high school that attempted to align its AP enrollment to the demographics of its school. This research contributed to the body of knowledge around first-year and traditionally underrepresented students participating in AP courses by identifying their perceived supports and challenges in their AP courses through a pre- and post-survey (n = 81) as well as selected student interviews (n = 5). The importance of this study is the student perspectives about the supports, the challenges, and their perceived changes that occurred in their academic identity while enrolled in the AP class.

The first phase of this research analyzed the marks students earned in their AP classes, scores from their AP exams, and survey data to identify student perceptions of supports and challenges in their AP classes. At the end of the first phase, changes in their perceived academic identity were analyzed from responses on pre- and post-surveys. The second phase of the research design included interviews of purposefully selected students to gain a deeper understanding of the findings from the first phase of the study.

The factor that most helped first-year students succeed was that their AP teacher believed they could be successful in the class. The quantitative survey data and student interviews revealed that students were challenged by the difficulty of content in AP classes, the amount of work, and managing their time. First-year AP students exhibited statistically significant decreases (p < .05) from the pre- to post-AP survey in their perceptions of their academic self and academic strategies.

The results and implications from this study are discussed and may provide insight for suburban high schools that are experiencing a shift in student demographics to better meet the academic needs of all students in AP.


Copyright for this work is retained by the author.

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