Altered selves: re-entry into a traditional high school following an alternative program placement
Lochhead, Dianne Hope
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There are a variety of theories in the field of education used to describe student success. Erikson's psychosocial theory is the examination of the interaction between genetic predispositions and environmental contexts, namely society and culture. Behavioral theory is used to understand human behavior in regards to the functional relationship between individuals' responses and environment events that shape them. These theories are not mutually exclusive, but they may be combined to explain how and why students succeed in certain domains and develop the skills necessary to make effective progress in other less supportive environments. The researcher investigated the experiences of 14 students before, during, and after attending an assigned alternative program. Interview and document analysis revealed eight key factors contributed to students' ability to reintegrate from an assigned alternative program back to their traditional high school setting. These factors are (a) a small learning environment separate from the traditional high school, (b) consistency of staff and routines, (c) close deliberate relationships, (d) motivation for reintegration , (e) the availability of therapeutic services, (f) high expectations for skill development, (g) positive student growth and improved performance, (h) and the existence of a home base with in the traditional high school. The results of this study determined that, although these factors originated in the alternative program, they needed to be re inforced in the traditional high school setting in order to ensure continued progress for each student. Human development and behavior, whether viewed through a psychosocial or behavioral perspective, clearly reveal that the interventions offered through the Empower program enable students to develop into healthy, autonomous, young adults. Through the Empower program experience, the students studied internalized the skills required to control their emotions and behavior. Skill development enabled them to return to the traditional high school setting, and, for most, to continue on to a post high school education.
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