Developing a Curriculum for a Formal Education Setting to Prevent Child Marriage in Rural Areas of Honduras: A Design-Based Research Study. 

(Pacheco Montoya, 2019)


Latin America and the Caribbean is the only region in the world where child marriage (CM) is not decreasing. Growing levels of education and legislation to ban this practice have not been associated with CM reduction. This dissertation is grounded on the belief that the educational sector can contribute to CM prevention by going beyond expanding access to secondary education. Schools can also contribute to CM prevention by focusing on challenging social norms, understanding the role of the different changes that occur during adolescence, and recognizing the structural limitations that drive CM. This design-based research study provides a deeper understanding of the factors that shape adolescents’ decisions to marry in rural areas of Honduras and uses this knowledge to develop a theory of action to design, implement, and evaluate a school-based curriculum to prevent CM. The results and experience of this investigation advanced the development of design principles that can guide the implementation of interventions in similar contexts throughout Latin America.

Child Marriage, Agency, and Schooling in Rural Honduras 

(Murphy-Graham & Leal 2015)


This article examines the relationships between child marriage,1 agency, and schooling in rural Honduras. Through an in-depth qualitative case study, we address the following questions: (1) In what ways, if any, do girls exercise agency in their decision to marry? (2) How might education enhance girls’ agency, expanding their choice sets and delaying the age of marriage? We argue that a lack of understanding of the decisionmaking processes of young girls impedes the design and implementation of interventions to address child marriage. Our in-depth, qualitative case study allows us to document how the agency that girls exercise is simultaneously thin, opportunistic, accommodating, and oppositional. Returning to Ahearn’s notion of agency as the socioculturally mediated capacity to act (2001a, 112), our findings suggest that for education to enhance adolescent girls’ agency it must transform the sociocultural con

School Dropout, Child Marriage, and Early Pregnancy among Adolescent Girls in Rural Honduras

(Murphy-Graham, Cohen, and Pacheco Montoya, 2020) 


This article examines intersections between schooling, child marriage, and adolescent pregnancy in a longitudinal, mixed-methods study of Honduran girls. It explores (a) girls’ enrollment and dropout of school patterns and how these relate to timing of marriage and/or childbirth, (b) the factors associated with dropout, early marriage, and/or early childbearing, and (c) reenrollment patterns after marriage/childbirth. We find that household income in early adolescence predicts school dropout, early union, and early childbearing. Most girls discontinued their studies due to lack of financial resources or no longer wanting to be a student rather than due to marriage or motherhood. Only a small percentage return to school. This study can inform the timing and nature of efforts to protect girls and increase their chances of successfully completing secondary school, delaying marriage, and preventing early pregnancy.

Examining school dropout among rural youth in Honduras: Evidence from a mixed-methods longitudinal study

(Murphy-Graham, Pacheco-Montoya, Cohen, and Valencia Lopez, 2021)

This study uses longitudinal mixed methods data to examine patterns of dropout among a cohort of 1305 Honduran rural youth from the time they were in 6th grade to the age of 20. Based on our analysis of household and student surveys and in-depth interviews, we find that dropout is a major problem, particularly during transition years and during the first year of upper secondary education. Dropout results from the accumulation of push and pull factors that lead students to question whether it is worthwhile to stay enrolled, as they lack op-portunities to convert their schooling into valued outcomes.

Empowering adolescent girls in developing countries: The potential role of education

(Murphy-Graham and Lloyd, 2016)


This article proposes a conceptual framework for how education can promote adolescent girls’ empowerment and, by mapping the field, highlights promising examples of empowering education programs. We conclude by identifying both research and programmatic opportunities for the future that will harness the expertise of a range of specialists from the interdisciplinary fields of gender studies and adolescent development in collaboration with experts from the fields of education, health, and labor.