Summer 2017



Degree Name


Primary Advisor/Dissertation Chair

Jason Miller

Secondary Advisor/Reader One

Kirsten Hoffman

Peer-Reviewer/Reader Two

Katherine Barwacz


The question addressed throughout this research project is, how do teachers in alternative school settings build strong relationships with at-risk students in order to alter their negative perceptions of schooling? This capstone explores alternative education and how it best serves at-risk students. The author’s primary influence comes from her own experiences as an at-risk youth, school transitions, and relationship building with teachers throughout her educational journey. The research for this project focused on using a mixed methods approach with a sequential explanatory design model to document the experiences and changes to students’ school and teacher perceptions, while transitioning from a traditional high school to an alternative school setting. The data collected through research indicates that students can find greater success, socially and academically, in settings where priority is given to building strong positive relationships. The author concludes that positive relationship building between teachers and students is crucial to ensuring student success, in all areas of education, but especially among the most at-risk learners.

Research Methodology

Action Research, Interview, Survey (attitude scale, opinion, questionnaire)


At-risk Students

Included in

Education Commons