Welcome to the Michigan Study of Adolescent and Adult Life Transitions!

On this site, you can find information on questionnaires, scales, and data for researchers, a list of articles and publications that have resulted from the study, a more detailed explanation of the study for past participants, a form for past participants to submit new contact information if they are moving, and a list of family, education, and career web resources.

MSALT is affiliated with the Gender and Achievement Lab at Penn State and Family Studies and Human Development at the University of Arizona.

Overview of MSALT

How do social and academic experiences at school, at home, at work, and with one's peers relate to work and educational options and to psychological adjustment during adolescence and the early twenties? We have used the Eccles Expectancy – Value Model of Achievement-related Choices to study questions such as these has been used over the last fifteen years to study educational and role-related choices among children and adolescents. In 1983, we began a longitudinal study of adolescent development with a group of fifth and sixth graders recruited from 10 different school districts in Southeastern Michigan. In the spring of 1990, when the students were in the 12th grade, we collected the sixth wave of this study for the 2,381 adolescents still remaining in our school districts.

In 1992 and 1993, when our sample was approximately 20-21 years old, we gathered the seventh wave of information. We selected this age because it is likely to be particularly stressful for those adolescents not attending college. It is likely to be particularly difficult for youth who have experienced less than optimal development during early and middle adolescence. As a result the poorest families in this country are the families of non-college educated youth who dropped out of high school prior to graduation. Employers are reluctant to put these adolescents into career track jobs, and society provides very few opportunities for post high school vocational training and support other than college. We know very little about how these youth cope with this transitional period.

We recontacted our sample in 1995-1996 and again in 1999-2000 to update our information on their occupational, educational and family status and to maintain contact with the sample for future follow-ups. Analysis of our longitudinal data set focuses on the following general goals: (a) tracing the development of achievement-related beliefs, self perceptions and values, and psychological adjustment across the adolescent and early adult years; (b) assessing the impact of these beliefs, self perceptions, values, and psychological resources on adolescents' educational, occupational, and interpersonal life-task planning; on work and educational achievements; on leisure activity choices and participation; and on other life-role choices and outcomes during 18-29 year age period and (c) assessing the relation of social experiences and individual characteristics to adolescents' transition into young adulthood.

The Passages Through Adolescence: Education Outcomes project uses MSALT data to identify those aspects of the environment at Time 1 that are associated with subsequent characteristics of both the family and the adolescent. It focuses on which family and/or personal characteristics are facilitative of positive adaptation and growth and which are predictive of less than optimal development. Because our longitudinal design includes six waves of data and a rich array of measures collected both from the parents and the adolescents themselves, as well as from teachers and school records, we are able to study complex, dynamic change. To understand adolescent development, we need to understand the complex interplay of changes within the family system and the school. The course of adolescent development depends on characteristics of the adolescent's family, the adolescent him/herself, and the school environments in which the adolescent develops. This data set provides information on such influences.

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