At-Risk Students in an Experiential Education Based Setting: An Examination of Attitudes and Engagement


Summer 8-15-2016



Degree Name


Primary Advisor/Dissertation Chair

Shelley Orr

Secondary Advisor/Reader One

Bill Zimniewicz

Peer-Reviewer/Reader Two

Val Honey


The research question addressed in this study is how does an experiential education-based setting change the attitudes about school and learning of students at-risk for not graduating? It begins by offering the author’s experiences in a traditional education setting juxtaposed by experiential education opportunities. It moves into a review of scholarship surrounding the term “at-risk” and its history, followed by that of experiential education. It marries these two topics together through addressing the needs of at-risk students and the philosophy of experiential education, as conveyed by Dewey and Kolb. The action research takes a mixed-methods approach through interviews, surveys and student data from one unique, urban charter school to interpret how student attitudes have evolved as a result of their participation in an experiential education-based school. It concludes that at-risk students greatly need and desire one-on-one connections with teachers, dynamic classroom environments and hands-on learning opportunities.

Research Methodology

Action Research, Interview, Survey


At-risk Students, Charter Schools, Learning Styles, Motivation

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