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Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Rachelle Hackett

First Committee Member

Fred Muskal

Second Committee Member

Mari Irvin

Third Committee Member

Memuriyil Thomas


At-risk students in a secondary alternative school program were asked to complete an open, subjective questionnaire that explored their perceptions regarding both regular and alternative schools' attitudes toward, and response to, them as individuals. There also were questions about how these attitudes and responses made them feel about themselves and their school experience. Grounded theory-methodology was used to structure the study. Their feelings seemed to focus on basic human values and adult caring. Results support Maslow's theory that both physical and psychological needs fulfillment drive human decision and activity. Students indicated that when basic issues of safety and support were provided for in the school environment, they had more energy and concentration for growth and self-actualization through learning. Results of this qualitative study indicated that educators and support personnel should consider this area important to explore before reaching conclusions regarding how to communicate effectively with, or further restructure programs to serve at-risk students.




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