Term of Award

Fall 2008

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Education Administration (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Department

Department of Leadership, Technology, and Human Development

Committee Chair

Mary Jackson

Committee Member 1

Paulette Harris

Committee Member 2

Abebayehu Tekleselassie

Abstract

A qualitative research design was used to gather data from in-depth interviews of 10 at risk students at an east-central Georgia high school. The students met at least two of the following at risk characteristics: low SES, failing at least one grade and/or in danger of failing four or more courses this year, and high rate of suspension or absenteeism and/or on probation. The instruments for this study consisted of structured interviews that contained questions to elicit the students' views on school with the aim of determining what they identify as critical to their success. The interviews were guided by an outline of topics from a review of research and literature concerning at risk student conditions such as family, school and personality issues. The overarching question was: What conditions do at risk high school students identify as critical to their success? Subquestions: 1.What conditions do at risk students feel are in their lives that affect their academic success? 2. What conditions do at risk students feel are in the school environments that affect their academic success? 3. What conditions do at risk students feel are in their personalities that affect their academic success? The results were combined into three overall conditions that students, themselves, viewed as important to their success: 1. Discipline- Students wanted more supervision for students who kept others from learning and they wanted to be treated respectfully when corrected. 2. Relationships- Students wanted caring teachers who listened and acted as learning partners. Students wanted mentors who could be family members, teachers, coaches or other caring adults. 3. Curriculum- Students wanted courses that addressed their future. They wanted more courses that taught life skills, technical skills, job training or apprenticeships. Students wanted more time to master subject matter, more flexible scheduling for school times and class times. Students also wanted presentations to suit their learning styles, including hands on experiences.

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