Title

Promoting Self-Determination Strategies for Youth At-Risk in Alternative Education Settings

Location

Harborside Center

Strand #1

Social & Emotional Skills

Strand #2

Academic Achievement & School Leadership

Relevance

This proposal is related to Strand II: Social and Emotional Skills, because it directly addresses the overall well-being of students. Teaching self-determination allows students at-risk to learn valuable skills (e.g., problem-solving, goal-setting, self-regulation) that will help them effectively navigate challenges related to their school and home life. This proposal also relates to Strand I: Academic Achievement and Leadership. Students who are self-determined are more likely to graduate and successfully transition into adult life. However, students who are less self-determined are more like to drop-out and become involved in the criminal justice system.

Brief Program Description

The presentation will highlight findings from a single-case study on self-determination. The presentation will also feature other empirically based strategies shown to be effective for students at-risk. Participants will have the opportunity to learn how self-determination has been used to improve challenging behavior and academic skills. Furthermore, participants will learn how promoting self-determination empowers youth to make learning more student-directed.

Summary

Much attention has focused on alternative school settings as a solution to serving at-risk students who were unable to be successful in traditional school settings (Lehr, Tan, & Ysseldyke, 2009). Alternative education settings have often been considered the last stop before student’s either drop-out of school and/or move into correctional settings (Lehr & Lange, 2003). Students who attend alternative schools are often at-risk for school failure and are placed in these settings to combat a number of student challenges (Kleiner, Porch & Farris, 2002; Lehr et al., 2009).

Students who attend alternative schools are often mandated to attend due to issues with truancy, disruptive behavior, homelessness or substance abuse (Lehr et al., 2009). Lehr and Lange (2003) found that 12% of the students attending alternative schools are students with special needs that have Individualized Education Plans (IEP) and that 36% of these students who have learning disabilities (LD) and 59% of students with emotional behavioral disorders (EBD), do not graduate. Similarly, according to the U.S. Department of Education, 51% of students with EBD who are ages 14 and older drop-out of high school nationally. Consequently, many of these students, particularly those with EBD, consistently experience a number of negative in-school (e.g., challenging behavior, course failure, suspension) and post-school (e.g., health issues, unemployment, incarceration) outcomes (Christle, Jolivette, & Nelson, 2007).

The goal of this presentation is to a) inform participants of effective self-determination methods and strategies identified in the literature that have been shown to increase the likelihood of positive student outcomes, b) present findings from a single-case study investigating the impact of the Self-Determination Learning Model of Instruction on the on- and off-task behaviors of students in alternative education settings and c) demonstrate how self-determination can be embedded into classroom curriculum. Research has shown that providing students with tools to become more self-determined has had a positive impact on student’s academic performance, school engagement, post-secondary involvement, employment outcomes and overall quality of life (Carter, Lane, Crnobori, Bruhn, & Oakes, 2011).

Evidence

All strategies featured in the presentation are research based. Information, methods and strategies are obtained from empirical studies that were published in peer-reviewed academic journals, such as Exceptional Children, Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, and Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions.

Format

Poster Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Weke T. Andrews is a doctoral student at Georgia State University, where he is pursuing a Ph.D in the Education of Exceptional Students. He is also a Project LEADERS scholar, which involves federally funded research aimed at improving outcomes for youth at risk. Prior to Georgia State, Weke was a special education teacher for four years. Before teaching, Weke was an Academic Coordinator for an Upward Bound program that provided support to pre-collegiate participants from low-income families.

Drs. David Houchins and Kris Varjas supervise the work under the Project LEADERS grant. Both are professors at Georgia State University, with Dr. Houchins being a faculty member of the Department of Educational Psychology, Special Education, and Communication Disorders and Dr. Varjas as a faculty member of the Department of Counseling and Psychological Services.

Keyword Descriptors

self-determination, behavior, off-task, learning model

Presentation Year

2016

Start Date

3-8-2016 4:00 PM

End Date

3-8-2016 5:30 PM

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Mar 8th, 4:00 PM Mar 8th, 5:30 PM

Promoting Self-Determination Strategies for Youth At-Risk in Alternative Education Settings

Harborside Center

The presentation will highlight findings from a single-case study on self-determination. The presentation will also feature other empirically based strategies shown to be effective for students at-risk. Participants will have the opportunity to learn how self-determination has been used to improve challenging behavior and academic skills. Furthermore, participants will learn how promoting self-determination empowers youth to make learning more student-directed.