Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Psychological and Social Foundations

Major Professor

Shannon Suldo, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Nathaniel von der Embse, Ph.D.

Committee Member

John Ferron, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jonathan Lee, Ph.D.


academic success, coping, emotional success, engagement, high school


High school students in accelerated curricula (i.e., Advanced Placement classes or pre-International Baccalaureate program) tend to report higher level of perceived stress compared to general education students due to additional academic demands that stemmed from accelerated courses (Suldo & Shaunessy-Dedrick, 2013). However, this group of students often receives limited if any targeted supports in schools because they tend to perform well academically (Suldo, O'Brennan, Storey, & Shaunessy-Dedrick, 2018). To address this gap in literature, this study investigated the efficacy of a targeted intervention in development to support academic and emotional success among students in accelerated curricula, namely the Motivation, Assessment, and Planning (MAP) intervention. MAP involves up to two one-on-one coaching sessions rooted in Motivational Interviewing (MI) techniques. The intervention aims to help students in accelerated curricula further develop coping or engagement strategies learned in an accompanying universal intervention termed the Advancing Coping and Engagement program (ACE; Suldo, Parker, Shaunessy-Dedrick, & O’Brennan, 2019). In this study, the efficacy of the MAP intervention was compared to an Action Planning (AP) intervention through a randomized, within subject design. Twenty 9th grade students taking Advanced Placement Human Geography from one high school who exhibited emotional and/or academic risks participated in this study. Wilcoxon Signed-Rank test revealed that participants reported significantly higher importance to change (S = 35.5, N = 20, p = 0.04) after receiving MAP compared to AP intervention. In addition, the interventionist/coach reported significantly higher therapeutic alliance (S = 95, N = 20, p < .001) with participants after MAP compared to AP meetings. Although there were no significant differences for other outcome and acceptability variables (i.e., confidence to change, student-report therapeutic alliance, goal attainment, and student satisfaction), the direction of the trends in the data all favored MAP over AP meetings except for goal attainment. Wilcoxon Signed Rank tests also revealed significant order effects for two outcome variables; participants reported higher therapeutic alliance (S = -18.5, N = 20, p = .03) and progress towards goal (S = -18, N = 20, p = .04) after the second meeting, no matter to which condition they were assigned. Qualitative analyses (constant comparative method) of written and verbal data provided by student participants after each meeting and termination indicated themes with regard to (a) most useful parts of meetings, (b) good and bad parts of meetings, (c) differences between meetings, and (e) additional comments. Overall, analyses of qualitative data revealed inconclusive findings. It is unclear whether participants find MAP more acceptable than AP, and vice versa. However, some qualitative themes support the order effects found in quantitative analyses. The current study contributed to the literature by examining how the MAP, in comparison to an AP intervention, affects Advanced Placement students’ perceived importance of and confidence to change, therapeutic alliance, goal attainment, and acceptability.