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Judith Meece - UNC-Chapel Hill. Chapel Hill, NC, US

Judith Meece Judith Meece

Professor of Educational Psychology, School of Education | UNC-Chapel Hill


Professor of Educational Psychology



Judith Meece Publication Judith Meece Publication Judith Meece Publication




Part 2: Aspirations of Rural Youth - Rural High School Aspirations Study




Judith Meece is the McMichael Professor of Education. Trained in developmental and educational psychology, Meece is affiliated with the Master of Arts in Teaching Program and the doctoral program in Applied Developmental Science and Special Education. She is a nationally recognized scholar in the field of achievement motivation and has provided professional development for teachers to enhance student academic engagement and motivation in schools across the country. Her research focuses on the role of classroom and school environments in the development of adolescent’s academic motivation and educational aspirations. Meece recently directed a large national study on the postsecondary transition of rural youth to careers, college, and adult life. Meece’s research has been supported by grants from the Institute of Education Sciences, National Science Foundation, and Spencer Foundation. Meece is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association (Division 15), and served as the Division's President in 2012.

Industry Expertise (6)

Education/Learning Health and Wellness Program Development Professional Training and Coaching Public Policy Research

Areas of Expertise (3)

Student Learning and Motivation Research Methods Child and Adolescent Development

Accomplishments (1)

American Psychological Association Fellow (professional)


American Psychological Association Fellow, Division 15 Outstanding Research Award, Phi Delta Kappa, Carolina Chapter

Education (3)

University of Michigan: Ph.D., Educational Psychology 1981

University of Michigan: M.A., Educational Psychology 1977

Michigan State University: B.S., Human Ecology 1973

Affiliations (5)

  • American Educational Research Association
  • American Psychological Association (Division 15)
  • Society for Research in Child Development
  • Society for Research on Adolescence
  • National Association for Research on Science Teaching

Media Appearances (2)

Retention program given $3 million

Daily Tar Feel  online


The grant will also allow the School of Education to develop a pilot program with the Office of Undergraduate Retention to support students coming from rural communities, said Judith Meece, a professor at the School of Education.

“It seems to come at just the right time,” Demetriou said. “It’s a really exciting time to be here. It’ll complement the work already being done here and keeps us moving in the right direction.”...

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The Rural Student Brain Gain

Daily Yonder  online


The study, conducted by researchers Robert Petrin, Kai Schafft and Judith Meece, reveals that high-achieving high school students are not necessarily more likely to leave a rural community than students who aren’t as interested in academics. And of those students who do leave, high-achievers are more likely to indicate a desire to return.

This desire to return home is linked to high-achievers’ stronger feelings of community engagement and connection.

Local economic conditions and students’ perceptions of future employment opportunities are the largest factors influencing the decision to stay or leave, the study showed.

The study also found little evidence for the assertion that teachers and school administrators contribute to brain drain by “grooming” their best students to leave. The study showed that these interactions do not have a significant impact on the students’ decisions to stay or leave...

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Event Appearances (5)

Twenty years later: Addressing gender inequitites in educational achievement and attainment

Invited Presidential Address (Division 15), American Psychological Association  Washington, DC.


Rural high school aspirations study

Invited Webinar Presentation, Regional Educational Laboratory  Austin, TX.


Rural high school aspirations study

Invited Presentation  REL Midwest Webinar


Overview of Theoretical Perspectives on Gender Differences in Achievement Motivation

Carolina Consortium on Human Development Seminar Series, Center for Developmental Science  Chapel Hill, NC.


Overview of CCHD Seminar on Motivation to Learn and School Engagement

Carolina Consortium on Human Development Seminar Series, Center for Developmental Science  Chapel Hill, NC.


Articles (5)

Rural–nonrural differences in college attendance patterns Peabody Journal of Education


Using data from the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988, this study documented college attendance patterns of rural youth in terms of the selectivity of first postsecondary institution of attendance, the timing of transition to postsecondary education, and the continuity of enrollment. The study also examined how these college attendance patterns among rural students differed from those among their nonrural counterparts and which factors explained these rural–nonrural differences. Results showed that rural youth were ...

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Educational Sorting and Residential Aspirations Among Rural High School Students What Are the Contributions of Schools and Educators to Rural Brain Drain? American Educational Research Journal


An extended body of research has documented the outmigration of the “best and brightest” youth from rural areas. Some of this scholarship has suggested that rural schools and educators may be complicit in this process as they devote extra attention and resources to the highest achieving students—those most likely to leave their rural communities after high school. Using data from a national multimethod study, we find mixed support for this hypothesis. To the contrary, our data suggest that the highest-achieving rural students are ...

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Familial and economic influences on the gender-related educational and occupational aspirations of rural adolescents Journal of Educational and Developmental Psychology


Economic, occupational, and social shifts in rural economies have influenced nuanced changes in the educational and occupational aspirations of rural adolescent women and men. However, there is limited contemporary research that examines the aspirations of rural adolescents at the beginning of the 21 st century. Drawing on a sample of 8,756 rural adolescents in the United States, we examine how familial, geographic, and economic variables influence gender-related differences in educational and occupational ...

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Preparing for adulthood: A recent examination of the alignment of rural youth's future educational and vocational aspirations Journal of Educational and Developmental Psychology


Nearly nine million students attend public schools in rural areas but limited research has examined the aspirations of rural youth in the early years of the 21st century. This study presents a contemporary profile of rural youth's educational and vocational aspirations and examines the educational alignment of reported aspirations...

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Motivation in education: Theory, research, and applications Pearson Higher Ed


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