• Masculinity Perception and Motivational Influences on Male Students' Higher Education Academic Success

      Hallman, Jeff H.; Tift College of Education
      Male higher education students are expected to account for only 40% of the total college and university enrollment and only 40% of the total students who graduate with at least a baccalaureate degree by 2026. The disparity gap trend that began in 1981 has been widening since that year. The level of educational attainment has future consequences to the financial stability and employability that influences skilled, labor-based economies and marriage and childbearing structures. The problem addressed by this study was the declining rate of male undergraduate student educational success. This research sought to determine if there is a relationship between male students’ perceptions of their masculinity, academic motivation, and success at a specific higher education institution. Social role theory, personal construct theory, and self-determination theory served as the conceptual framework to understand if male students’ perceptions of their masculinity influence their higher education decisions and success. A mixed-methods, simultaneous explanatory methodology was utilized to attempt to discover possible links to male students’ academic success. During the Spring 2020 semester, 76 male full-time undergraduate students at a southeastern U.S. university with a relatively lower male student graduation rate responded to an anonymous questionnaire. Findings identified two primary factors that previous researchers suspected may be influencing the educational experience of male students. First, male students who see themselves as traditionally masculine or experience pressure to conform to traditional masculinity ideology are less likely to experience academic success. Second, amotivation is a key influencer of academic success among male undergraduate students. Discoveries such as those found in this study inform and influence higher education leaders, who should consider the contributing factors for declining success of all students and provide interventions and programs. Higher education personnel should assist male students with convolving the conflicting influences surrounding their masculinity and promote the lifelong benefits associated with academic success. Future studies should expand the institutions sampled in the study to determine if geography influences masculinity perceptions and attempt to focus on which aspects of traditional masculinity ideology are most predominate and contributory.