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What facilitates completion of high school for students who experience the risk of early leave 1999

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WHAT FACILITATES COMPLETION OF HIGH SCHOOL FOR STUDENTS WHO EXPERIENCE THE RISK OF EARLY LEAVE BY SHIRLEY KATZ B.A., York U n i v e r s i t y , 1994 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS In THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES Department of Coun s e l l i n g Psychology We accept t h i s t h e s i s as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA J u l y 1999 ( c ) S h i r l e y Katz, 1999 In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. Department of The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada DE-6 (2788) ABSTRACT This study explores the f a c i l i t a t i o n of completion of high school for students who experience the r i s k of dropping out. The purpose of the study was to develop a comprehensive scheme of categories to describe what f a c i l i t a t e s completion from the perspective of high school students. An adaptation of The C r i t i c a l Incident Technique (Flanagan, 1954) was used. Sixteen categories emerged from an analysis of incidents. The soundness and trustworthiness of the categories were tested. Results indicate that completion can be f a c i l i t a t e d by emotional support and guidance, respect from teachers, opportunity to p a r t i c i p a t e and get help, goals s e t t i n g for the future, encouragement of autonomy and r e s p o n s i b i l i t y , recognition, p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n the arts or sport, and reward. What remains to be confirmed i s the helping value of several categories that were novel, such as i d e n t i t y development through s o c i a l comparison. Anecdotal information that was consistently observed i n the contents of the interviews was included and discussed. Participants made suggestions to help other students struggling to complete high school. This study suggests promising developments i n high school completion which have implications for research, practice and curriculum design i n counselling and education. i i i T A B L E OF CONTENTS A B S T R A C T i i L I S T OF T A B L E S v i ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS v i i FOREWARD v i i i CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCTION 1 BACKGROUND 1 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY 3 R A T I O N A L E AND S I G N I F I C A N C E OF THE STUDY 4 APPROACH TO T H E STUDY 6 L I M I T A T I O N S 7 ASSUMPTIONS 8 CHAPTER 2 THE L I T E R A T U R E REVIEW 11 OVERVIEW 11 THE PROBLEM WITH D E F I N I T I O N S AND P R O F I L E S .12 THE IMPORTANCE OF SCHOOL 17 WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT E A R L Y L E A V E R S 18 DROPOUT P R E V E N T I O N . . 21 C O U N S E L L I N G I N I T I A T I V E S I N DROPOUT P R E V E N T I O N . . . . 24 WHAT WORKS 2 9 SUMMARY OF L I T E R A T U R E REVIEW 3 0 i v CHAPTER 3 METHODOLOGY 3 3 OVERVIEW 33 THE C R I T I C A L I N C I D E N T TECHNIQUE 34 P A R T I C I P A N T S 37 DATA C O L L E C T I O N 3 9 DATA A N A L Y S I S 42 A N A L Y T I C A L PROCEDURES . . . . 44 V A L I D A T I O N PROCEDURES 46 CHAPTER 4 THE R E S U L T S 50 INTRODUCTION 50 D E S C R I P T I O N OF THE C A T E G O R I E S 51 V A L I D A T I O N OF T H E C A T E G O R I E S 7 5 R E L I A B I L I T Y OF C A T E G O R I Z I N G I N C I D E N T S 75 COMPREHENSIVENESS OF C A T E G O R I E S 77 PART I PAT I ON R A T E FOR THE C A T E G O R I E S 78 E X P E R T COMMENTARY 82 SUPPORT OF R E L A T E D L I T E R A T U R E 84 EMOTIONAL SUPPORT AND GUIDANCE • . . 88 R E S P E C T FROM TEACHERS 88 REWARD 89 OPPORTUNITY TO P A R T I C I P A T E AND GET H E L P 90 S E T T I N G GOALS FOR THE FUTURE 91 A U T O N O M Y / R E S P O N S I B I L I T Y 91 R E C O G N I T I O N 92 P A R T I C I P A T I O N I N THE ARTS AND SPORTS 92 SUMMARY OF SUPPORTED C A T E G O R I E S 95 R E L E V A N T ANECDOTAL INFORMATION 94 S U G G E S T I O N : S E T T I N G GOALS FOR THE FUTURE . . . . 9 6 S U G G E S T I O N : L E S S E N E D WORKLOAD 96 S U G G E S T I O N : P A R T I C I P A T I O N I N THE ARTS AND SPORTS 96 S U G G E S T I O N : ENCOURAGEMENT AND GUIDANCE 97 S U G G E S T I O N : R E S P E C T FROM TEACHERS 98 S U G G E S T I O N : MEANING OF CURRICULUM 98 SUMMARY 98 CHAPTER 5 D I S C U S S I O N 100 SUMMARY OF F I N D I N G S 100 L I M I T A T I O N S OF RESEARCH . ' 101 I M P L I C A T I O N S FOR THEORY AND R E S E A R C H 103 I M P L I C A T I O N FOR P R A C T I C E I l l I M P L I C A T I O N S FOR F U T U R E R E S E A R C H 116 CONCLUSION 118 R E F E R E N C E S 121 A P P E N D I X A : CONSENT FORMS 128 B : DEMOGRAPHIC INFORMATION 131 C : RECRUITMENT POSTER 139 v i LIST OF TABLES TABLE 1 77 R e l i a b i l i t y of Category Schemes 77 TABLE 2 80 P a r t i c i p a t i o n Rate and Expert Commentary 80 TABLE 3 Support of R e l a t e d L i t e r a t u r e 86 V l l ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would l i k e to thank Dr. Rod McCormick for his input, support, guidance and encouragement. My appreciation also goes out to the other members of my committee, including Dr. David Peterson, Dr. Maria Arvay, and Dr. Michael Marker for a l l of th e i r h e l p f u l suggestions and input on this thesis. I am also very grateful to the research participants who shared th e i r s t o r i e s of struggling through adversity. F i n a l l y , I would l i k e to thank my family, p a r t i c u l a r l y my mother, who was both an i n s p i r a t i o n and a great source of support to me on this production. V l l l FOREWARD The researcher's interest i n the study i s motivated by personal experience. I d i d not complete high school, l a t e r entered post-secondary as a mature student, and managed to achieve success i n university. My retrospective perception of experiences which contributed to her early leave includes the need to be f i n a n c i a l l y self-supportive due to l i v i n g outside the family home, loss of meaning, boredom with curriculum, and lack of emotional support. The early leave led to a poor self-concept with regard to school a b i l i t y . What f a c i l i t a t e d my return to post-secondary education included information about mature-student entrance requirements, as well as recognition and encouragement from s i g n i f i c a n t figures i n the education system with which I had contact through occupational experiences. I have maintained a high degree of interest and p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n a number of creative f i e l d s as well. I f e e l that my interests and personal experiences contributed pot e n t i a l insights, but also p o t e n t i a l bias to the interpretation and discussion of the findings and are thus mentioned here. 1 What F a c i l i t a t e s Completion of High School f o r Students Who Experience the Risk of E a r l y Leave CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCTION Background High school completion i s i n c r e a s i n g l y becoming the minimum l e v e l of education required f o r e n t r y - l e v e l employment (Clark, 1997; Radwanski, 1987) and those who do not complete high school face high personal costs, i n c l u d i n g l o s s of income r e s u l t i n g from lower paying jobs and increased l i k e l i h o o d of unemployment (LeFleur, 1992). Canadian students who leave high school before graduation report d i f f i c u l t y g e t t i n g jobs, increased use of a l c o h o l and drugs, increased involvement i n crime, regret, and the l o s s of f r i e n d s (Price-Waterhouse, 1990) . Since education i s considered e s s e n t i a l to Canadian s o c i a l w e l l - b e i n g and economic p r o s p e r i t y (LeFleur, 1992), s o c i e t y a l s o pays the cost of the bleak future of those who do not complete high school (George, Land, & Hickson,1992). Future t e c h n o l o g i c a l change may r e q u i r e l e a r n i n g through the l i f e t i m e (Clark, 1997). Since those who d i d not complete high school may la c k the b a s i c s k i l l s needed to r e t r a i n i n an i n c r e a s i n g l y knowledge-intensive world (Clark, 1997; Radwanski, 1987), high school dropouts may continue to be disadvantaged long i n t o t h e i r f u t u r e s . Many of the studies on the problem of 2 e a r l y leave from high school provide c o r r e l a t i o n a l data focusing on the r i s k p r o f i l e of the e a r l y leaver (Frank, 1990; Frymier, 1996; Quirouette, Saint-Denis, & Hout, 1990). There i s however, i n c r e a s i n g evidence that those who experience the r i s k of e a r l y leave from high school are a heterogeneous group ( F r a n k l i n & S t r e e t e r , 1995; G i l b e r t , 1993), and researchers have st r e s s e d the need to provide f o r the needs of a diverse group of s t u d e n t s ( F r a n k l i n & S t r e e t e r , 1995) . I t has been observed that the r i c h , divergent data pool has o f t e n not been u t i l i z e d i n the c r e a t i o n of i n t e r v e n t i o n programs and o f t e n the programs are not evaluated (Morris, Pawlovich, & McCall, 1991). The gap between programs and research may i n d i c a t e that research thus f a r has not y i e l d e d p r a c t i c a l i nformation necessary to help the divergent group of i n d i v i d u a l s s t r u g g l i n g to complete high school. A l a c k of i n c l u s i o n of student perspectives i s evident i n a review of the e x i s t i n g s t u d i e s . When student p e r s p e c t i v e s were included, the focus was on what went wrong f o r those who d i d not succeed i n graduating. Subsequently, much p o t e n t i a l l y v a l i d data on what f a c i l i t a t e s s u c c e s s f u l completion at times of d i f f i c u l t y has been overlooked i n research and program planning. Much of the theory and p r a c t i c e r e l a t i n g to p r o v i s i o n of s e r v i c e s f o r high school 3 students experiencing the r i s k of e a r l y leave i s based on o p i n i o n and conjecture. I t has a l s o been problem-focused. I t i s t h e r e f o r e important that students themselves be given an opportunity to provide information of what i s h e l p f u l to them i n times of r i s k , to complete high school. The focus of t h i s study was to address the lack of p r a c t i c a l , s o l u t i o n - focused i n f o r m a t i o n . In response to t h i s need to understand what students f e e l i s h e l p f u l , the research question f o r t h i s study was: What f a c i l i t a t e s completion of high school f o r students who experience the r i s k of e a r l y leave? Purpose of the Study By gathering reports from high school graduates who experienced the r i s k of dropping out while i n high school, the aim of t h i s study was to develop a set of c a t e g o r i e s w i t h themes that describe what f a c t o r s are l i k e l y to f a c i l i t a t e completion. The category scheme i s intended to f u r t h e r the development of a t h e o r e t i c a l framework f o r working w i t h students who experience the r i s k of l e a v i n g . An i n v e s t i g a t i o n of t h i s kind i s intended to c o n t r i b u t e to the f i e l d of counseling by p r o v i d i n g data and i n f o r m a t i o n on appropriate ways to f a c i l i t a t e high school completion f o r students who r i s k e a r l y leave. 4 R a t i o n a l e and S i g n i f i c a n c e of the Study There are se v e r a l reasons f o r conducting a study of what f a c i l i t a t e s high school completion f o r students who experienced the r i s k of e a r l y leave. F i r s t , there i s concern about the high incidence of dropping out i n Canadian schools ( G i l b e r t , 1993). I t i s therefore c r i t i c a l that more research on what f a c i l i t a t e s completion f o r students at r i s k be undertaken so that counseling p r o f e s s i o n a l s and policy-makers i n education can design appropriate programs to address the needs of a d i v e r s i f i e d student population. Second, although much work has been devoted to i d e n t i f i c a t i o n of p o t e n t i a l drop-outs and attempts at i d e n t i f y i n g c a u s a l i t y ( G i l b e r t , 1993), the f i e l d has p a i d l i t t l e a t t e n t i o n to what c o n s t i t u t e s and f a c i l i t a t e s s u c c e s s f u l high school completion f o r students who experience the r i s k of l e a v i n g . The f i e l d needs e x p l o r a t o r y , d i s c o v e r y - o r i e n t e d research to begin b u i l d i n g a theory on how to help students i n need of ass i s t a n c e i n completing. Thi r d , the concept of students as a resource has been l a r g e l y overlooked, as has counseling as a resource i n both research and program development. Program i n i t i a t i v e s have al s o not been based on research (Roderick, 1993) and have excluded the perspectives of students and counselors. Many i n i t i a t i v e s have been unsuccessful. Researchers have 5 i n d i c a t e d that dropping out i s l i k e l y a complex process w i t h a strong a f f e c t i v e component, and lack of understanding i s a bigger problem than any one f a c t o r (Bearden, Spencer, & Moracco, 1991). Research that includes the pers p e c t i v e s of students and counselors i s necessary to develop an understanding of what f a c i l i t a t e s completion. Understanding and a s s i s t i n g students who may leave school before graduating i s necessary i n order to ensure access to education f o r a diverse population of students. In order to a s s i s t them, i t i s necessary to develop an understanding of what f a c i l i t a t e s s u c c e s s f u l completion. Information of what f a c i l i t a t e s completion i s more u s e f u l than any a n a l y s i s of a xproblem' a f t e r i t has occurred. F a i l u r e to address the question of how to help students who are s t i l l i n school s t r u g g l i n g to succeed r e f l e c t s p o o r l y on any e f f o r t s to plan i n t e r v e n t i o n s to reduce dropout r a t e s . F a i l u r e to provide students with programs that address t h e i r expressed needs a f f e c t s students, f a m i l i e s , educators, p o l i c y makers and s o c i e t y i n general, on economic and s o c i a l l e v e l s . How can students who f e e l that they do not belong i n school, can not c o n t r i b u t e meaningfully, or have needs which can not be met by one of s o c i e t i e s main i n s t i t u t i o n s , become a c t i v e c o n t r i b u t i n g members of soc i e t y ? 6 I t has been s a i d that a l l of s o c i e t y has an i n t e r e s t i n reducing the number of students who drop out (LeFleur, 1992), however, counselors are i n a unique p o s i t i o n to help. They have been i d e n t i f i e d as a resource, and they are i n a unique p o s i t i o n to conduct q u a l i t a t i v e research that i n c l u d e s the views of students and i d e n t i f i e s t h e i r needs f o r support. Since counselors are also l i k e l y expected to implement programs or r e f e r students, i t f o l l o w s that they are i d e a l f o r conducting research i n t h i s area. The present p r o j e c t examined the experience of r i s k of dropping out from a counseling p e r s p e c t i v e by u t i l i z i n g an i n t e r v i e w technique to address the question, and attempting to gather p r a c t i c a l i n f o r m a t i o n on what helps i n times of a d v e r s i t y . This study addressed these issues by beginning with a research question and approach that included the voices of students to provide p r a c t i c a l i nformation f o r ways counselors might help w i t h the complex process of completion i n times of r i s k of e a r l y leave. Approach to the Study The methodological approach used i n t h i s study i s based on the need to give students a voice i n i d e n t i f y i n g what helps them i n graduating from high school i n times of a d v e r s i t y . An adaptation of The C r i t i c a l Incident Technique 7 (Flanagan, 1954) w i l l be used i n t h i s study because i t allows students to share t h e i r own knowledge and voice t h e i r own experiences. The C r i t i c a l Incident Technique provides a reasonable approach to addressing the research question. This study begins an e x p l o r a t i o n of the nature of the experience of completion i n times of a d v e r s i t y and r i s k of e a r l y leave. I t provides a s t a r t i n g p o i n t f o r subsequent research and program development i n counseling to help students stay i n school. In t a k i n g the focus o f f the problem, and r e d i r e c t i n g the research question to understanding and i d e n t i f y i n g h e l p i n g f a c t o r s , t h i s research i s ground-breaking and may p o t e n t i a l l y l e a d to h i g h l y e f f e c t i v e i n t e r v e n t i o n s with maximized value to students, c o u n s e l l o r s and educators. L i m i t a t i o n s The use of the C r i t i c a l Incident Technique to c o l l e c t data through r e t r o s p e c t i v e i n t e r v i e w s presents the r i s k of compromising some accuracy and d e t a i l through memory l o s t over time. However, i t i s suggested that d e t a i l and accuracy can be improved with proper prep a r a t i o n and i n s t r u c t i o n to p a r t i c i p a n t s . F u l l and p r e c i s e r e t r o s p e c t i v e r e p o r t s can then be assumed to contain accurate information. Vague report s suggests that the event and i n c i d e n t s are not w e l l . 8 remembered (Flanagan, 1954). This study r e l i e s on the mo t i v a t i o n and a b i l i t y of p a r t i c i p a n t s to a c c u r a t e l y describe d e t a i l s of an h i s t o r i c experience, and the a b i l i t y of the researcher to develop rapport and to p r o p e r l y prepare "and i n s t r u c t p a r t i c i p a n t s . This study does not attempt to i d e n t i f y v a r i a b l e s a s s o c i a t e d with or comprising p r o f i l e s of e a r l y school l e a v e r s , thus data from t h i s study may not be u s e f u l i n e a r l y i d e n t i f i c a t i o n of those a t - r i s k . Assumptions In t h i s study, s e v e r a l assumptions were the foundation f o r the research. The assumption that enough i s known about the problem (Danzberger & Lefkowitz, 1987) was accepted, and drove the question i n s t e a d : What f a c i l i t a t e s completion of high school f o r students at r i s k of e a r l y leave? The f i n d i n g that students who do not complete high school are a diverse group ( F r a n k l i n & S t r e e t e r , 1995) informed the methodology. I t was assumed that i n d i v i d u a l s t o r i e s of s t r u g g l i n g through a d v e r s i t y would vary. However, since the focus of the study was on f a c i l i t a t i o n of a common goal, i t was assumed that commonality would emerge i n the themes of what helped. This assumption emerged out of Flanagan's o r i g i n a l work with C r i t i c a l Incident Methodology, 9 which i n d i c a t e d that while s u b j e c t i v e data i s obtained, p a r t i c i p a n t s do tend to make s i m i l a r observations w i t h regards to c r i t i c a l i n c i d e n t s , supporting a sense of o b j e c t i v i t y (1954). A l s o assumed was that completion of high school i s a p o s s i b i l i t y f o r a divergent group of students w i t h a d i v e r s e set of challenges. Therefore the focus of the study was on experience and contextual v a r i a b l e s , rather than p a r t i c u l a r p e r s o n a l i t y v a r i a b l e s such as r e s i l i e n c e or coping. Furthermore, since contextual v a r i a b l e s are more amenable to change, i t was assumed that r e s u l t s would have p r a c t i c a l u t i l i t y . The assumption arose from a counseling p e r s p e c t i v e , which emphasizes u t i l i t y of f i n d i n g s to the p r a c t i c e of h e l p i n g . I t was assumed that previous attempts and i n t e r v e n t i o n s were not e n t i r e l y s u c c e s s f u l because of not i n c o r p o r a t i n g the views of students as experts. This assumption emerged from the f a c t that students who leave tend to f e e l that nobody cared or l i s t e n e d . The method i n t h i s study gave i n d i v i d u a l s an opportunity to have t h e i r s t o r i e s t o l d . I t i s the hope of the researcher that r e s u l t s of t h i s study w i l l have face- value f o r students s t r u g g l i n g with s i m i l a r issues i n the f u t u r e , due to the peer-contributed nature of the methodology. 10 I t was also assumed that p a r t i c i p a n t s would be motivated by the p o s s i b i l i t y of h e l p i n g others, so that they w i l l p a r t i c i p a t e a c t i v e l y i n the study, g i v i n g accurate and d e t a i l e d accounts of what helped them i n completing high school during the time they almost dropped out. Since i n the past students who d i d not complete high school expressed that they f e l t pushed out i t was assumed that those who completed despite t h i s experience would r e a d i l y share t h e i r s t o r i e s w i t h the aim of h e l p i n g others to succeed. 11 CHAPTER 2 THE LITERATURE REVIEW Overview Looking at dropout prevention through a l i n e a r , s t a t i s t i c a l model that aims to i d e n t i f y a t - r i s k students pathologizes d i v e r s i t y and f a i l s to address the need f o r p r o v i d i n g s e r v i c e s to those students, as i t i s a-problem o r i e n t a t i o n , rather than a s o l u t i o n focused approach. In the attempt to i d e n t i f y c a u s a l i t y , h e l p i n g f a c t o r s are o f t e n overlooked. An adverse experience, which may be a complex, i n t e r a c t i v e process, i s s i m p l i f i e d . The a f f e c t i v e component i s overlooked. I d e n t i f i c a t i o n and l a b e l i n g i s the outcome of t h i s problem approach. I n t e r v e n t i o n i n i t i a t i v e s are t h e r e f o r l i k e l y to perpetuate the problem expressed by students of f e e l i n g ignored by the system. I t has been emphasized that f e e l i n g s of a l i e n a t i o n should be d e a l t w i t h i n futu r e i n i t i a t i v e s (Radwanski, 1987; Roderick, 1993; T i d w e l l , 1988), however, p r o f e s s i o n a l s working with students experiencing the r i s k of l e a v i n g lack the t h e o r e t i c a l knowledge of how to help. There are problems with e x i s t i n g dropout research i n c l u d i n g i n c o n s i s t e n c y i n the d e f i n i t i o n of dropout, and subsequent i n c o n s i s t e n c y i n the c a l c u l a t i o n s of dropout r a t e s . Prevention i n i t i a t i v e s tend not to be based on 12 e m p i r i c a l s t u d i e s , and are r a r e l y evaluated e m p i r i c a l l y . Neither s t u d i e s of the problem, nor i n t e r v e n t i o n programs in c l u d e the perspectives of the student. As a primary stakeholder, the student should be included and considered an expert. Recommended program i n i t i a t i v e s o f t e n r e f l e c t the need to have i n d i v i d u a l i z e d contacts f o r students w i t h a s i g n i f i c a n t mentor i n the system. Many studi e s note that c o u n s e l l o r s may be an underdeveloped resource. There i s a lac k of informat i o n a v a i l a b l e f o r c o u n s e l l o r s to u t i l i z e to help f a c i l i t a t e completion f o r students at r i s k . This study i s designed to address the issues as o u t l i n e d above. The Problem w i t h D e f i n i t i o n and P r o f i l e s The d i f f i c u l t y i n t a l k i n g a c c u r a t e l y about e a r l y school l e a v i n g , and u t i l i z i n g e x i s t i n g l i t e r a t u r e i s r e l a t e d to se v e r a l i s s u e s . F i r s t , the d e f i n i t i o n of what c o n s t i t u t e s dropping out i s not uniformly accepted ( S u l l i v a n , 1988). An in c o n s i s t e n c y i n the e x i s t i n g l i t e r a t u r e of the d e f i n i t i o n of dropout and subsequent problem i n comparing s t a t i s t i c s i s al s o c i t e d . (Morris, Pawlovich, & McCall, 1991). Not s u r p r i s i n g l y , there i s l i t t l e agreement or understanding of what may be req u i r e d to support and promote completion f o r those having d i f f i c u l t i e s i n school. Second, numbers 13 c a l c u l a t e d by schools do not r e f l e c t the various reasons students may leave, such as l e a v i n g to go to v o c a t i o n a l school, imprisonment, s p e c i a l school needs, or death ( G i l b e r t , 1993; M o r r i s , Pawlovich, & McCall, 1991). There i s a l s o a l o t of variance of the rates of dropping out r e l a t e d to region, school, nation, h i s t o r i c a l time, t h e r e f o r e researchers can not r e l y on q u a n t i t a t i v e data conducted i n previous times and must also look at l o c a l , s p e c i f i c data (Morris, Pawlovich, & McCall, 1991). L i t e r a t u r e on the problem of dropping out tends to use s t a t i s t i c a l language, t a l k i n g about students, r a t h e r than wi t h them. The over-emphasis on s t a t i s t i c a l p r o f i l e s and c o r r e l a t i o n data leads to a xperson-as-problem' o r i e n t a t i o n . The focus on problems seems to assume that i d e n t i f y i n g and a m e l i o r a t i n g problem v a r i a b l e s w i l l a u t o m a t i c a l l y l e a d to success. Successful completion of high school may r e q u i r e more than the a m e l i o r a t i o n of problem v a r i a b l e s . A m e l i o r a t i n g problem v a r i a b l e s may also not be p o s s i b l e . Some of these negative f a c t o r s c o n t r i b u t i n g to e a r l y leave from school may be embedded i n s o c i e t y or school environments. Factors may be s i t u a t i o n a l and c o n t e x t u a l , t h e r e f o r e amenable to change, versus inherent and f i x e d , such as p e r s o n a l i t y or v a r i a b l e s 14 As w e l l , studies that tend to focus on c o r r e l a t e s of those who have dropped out (Frank, 1990; Frymier, 1996; Quirouette, Saint-Denis, & Hout, 1990). Focus on the drop out r a t h e r than the problem of e a r l y school l e a v i n g . In Leaving school: Results from a n a t i o n a l survey comparing school leavers and high school graduates, 18-20 years of age, G i l b e r t (1993) wrote that a large body of research has been devoted to determining the causes and i d e n t i f y i n g students who are considered s u s c e p t i b l e to e a r l y l e a v i n g . The r a t i o n a l e f o r t h i s over-emphasis seems to be that e a r l y i d e n t i f i c a t i o n i s c r u c i a l f o r prevention. Since students who dropped out of school reported that f e e l i n g i d e n t i f i e d as a problem gave them a sense of being pushed out ( P r i c e - Waterhouse, 1990), i t f o l l o w s that t h i s kind of research may perpetuate the problem. This also underscores the need to consider students' perspectives and include them i n research and program i n i t i a t i v e s . Using s t a t i s t i c a l information to create a p r o f i l e of a student at r i s k of dropping out may also be problematic f o r the c o u n s e l l o r or other p r o f e s s i o n a l who aims to help the i n d i v i d u a l student stay i n school. Some students, r e g a r d l e s s of t h e i r socio-economic status develop problems that make i t d i f f i c u l t f o r them to stay i n school (Morris, Pawlovich, & McC a l l , 1991) and i n f a c t , dropping out among middle c l a s s , 15 high a c h i e v i n g and m a j o r i t y youth i s on the increase ( F r a n k l i n & Streeter,1995). Society i s responsible to respond e f f e c t i v e l y to, and provide schooling f o r , students from a l l backgrounds and s o c i a l c o n d i t i o n s (Canadian Education A s s o c i a t i o n , 1991). Current a t - r i s k c r i t e r i a may not be s e n s i t i v e to a l l the d i f f e r e n t types of students who may r i s k dropping out ( F r a n k l i n & S t r e e t e r , 1995). Methodology problems, i n a d d i t i o n to over-emphasis on c o r r e l a t i o n information, include the f a i l u r e to compare the occurrence of s o - c a l l e d i d e n t i f y i n g v a r i a b l e s i n cohort popu l a t i o n s . What r e s u l t s i s information that i s not u s e f u l , a f a l s e assumption of homogeneity ( F r a n k l i n & S t r e e t e r , 1995), s i m p l i f i c a t i o n of what might me a complex and i n t e r a c t i v e process (Bearden, Spencer, & Moracco, 1991, 1991), and f a i l u r e to examine emotional and other co n t e x t u a l f a c t o r s i n the experiences of those who dropout (Bearden, Spencer, & Moracco, 1991). Another problem with r e p o r t i n g s t a t i s t i c s r e l a t e d to the p r o f i l e of an e a r l y school leaver, i s that i t tends to over- emphasize the i n d i v i d u a l q u a l i t i e s , r ather than an i n t e r a c t i o n of se v e r a l v a r i a b l e s , and contextual f a c t o r s . Bearden, Spencer, & Moracco (1991) argue that l e a v i n g school i s a complex process best understood when a t t e n t i o n i s p a i d to the a f f e c t i v e component. There appears to be a wealth of 16 s t a t i s t i c a l i nformation a v a i l a b l e , and i t i s b e l i e v e d that enough i s known about he problem to begin working towards s o l u t i o n s (Danzberger & Lefkowitz, 1987). The tendency to look at success or f a i l u r e i n terms of outcomes a l s o misses the i n d i v i d u a l responses to r e a l - l i f e experiences. Research that evaluates outcomes without understanding the process misses valuable i n f o r m a t i o n about how to work towards d e s i r e d outcomes. C r i t i c a l Incident methodology overcomes t h i s problem by asking i n d i v i d u a l s to evaluate n a t u r a l l y o c c u r r i n g instances of success and f a i l u r e (Vispoel & A u s t i n , 1995) i n the process of reaching a given aim. F i n a l l y , there e x i s t s a problem i n developing i n t e r v e n t i o n i n i t i a t i v e s based l a r g e l y on the 7American pool of data, where there may be d i f f e r e n c e s i n the education system. P o l i c y , s t a t i s t i c s , curriculum, and c o u n s e l l i n g programs are v a s t l y d i f f e r e n t than the Canadian system. This study avoids the problem with d e f i n i t i o n s and p r o f i l e s and i n s t e a d includes a heterogenous sample, focusing i n s t e a d on the q u a l i t a t i v e process of what works i n the face of a d v e r s i t y . Results from other studies (Borgen & Amundson, 1984; Cochran, 1985) have shown that the r e s u l t s of q u a l i t a t i v e research can be u s e f u l to populations outside of the geographic and demographic parameters w i t h i n which that 17 data was gathered. Results of t h i s study should t h e r e f o r prove u s e f u l to c o u n s e l l o r s and students d e a l i n g w i t h the is s u e of high school completion, regardless of geographic region and school system. The Importance of School There are s i g n i f i c a n t s o c i a l and economic costs to e a r l y leave of high school, i n c l u d i n g poor h e a l t h , crime, substance abuse, and o v e r a l l lower q u a l i t y of l i f e ( G i l b e r t , 1993) . Today, most jobs r e q u i r e high school as a minimum requirement ( B r i t i s h Columbia M i n i s t r y of Education, 1997). I t i s g e n e r a l l y agreed that i n an i n c r e a s i n g l y t e c h n i c a l , competitive work environment, dropping out places students at r i s k f o r low income, and downward m o b i l i t y ( F r a n k l i n & S t r e e t e r , 1995; S u l l i v a n , 1988). C s i k s z e n t m i h a l y i & McCormack (1986) argue that l e a r n i n g to become an a d u l t member of s o c i e t y s t a r t s i n school, and i t i s the r e s p o n s i b i l i t y of a l l educators to assure c o n t i n u i t y of s o c i e t y and c u l t u r e by p r o v i d i n g meaningful experiences to the young. Jobs f o r those who leave high school before completion tend to be concentrated i n blue c o l l a r and low l e v e l s e r v i c e occupations ( S u l l i v a n , 1988). 18 What We Know About E a r l y Leavers Many studies report s t a t i s t i c s a s s o c i a t e d w i t h students who leave school before graduating (Clark, 1997; LeFleur, 1992; S u l l i v a n , 1988; Roderick, 1993). Although there i s much v a r i a b i l i t y i n reports about the percentage of students who dropout, recent Canadian s t a t i s t i c s (Clark, 1997) report that the school leaver rate was 15% among those aged 24 i n 1995, when those who r e t u r n to school are fa c t o r e d i n . Current r a t e s are lower than p r e v i o u s l y s t a t e d ( G i l b e r t , 1993). While 80% of high school graduates pursued f u r t h e r education, only one-in-four of the e a r l y leavers that were surveyed i n an e a r l i e r study had gone on to some kind of f u r t h e r study. Leaving high school had a negative impact on the l e a v e r s ' employment, with female leavers having the highest (30%) unemployment r a t e . I t was also noted that female leavers were much more l i k e l y to have dependent c h i l d r e n (27%) versus female high school graduates (4%), which suggested that f a m i l y r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s of female leavers may have a f f e c t e d t h e i r d e c i s i o n to leave school. As pointed out by Roderick (1993), and G i l b e r t (1993), a wealth of studi e s explore the problem of e a r l y school l e a v i n g . These studies i d e n t i f y many d i f f e r e n t f a c t o r s as being at the root of the problem. Some point to i n d i v i d u a l 19 f a c t o r s , such as academic f a i l u r e (Hahn, Danzberger, & Lefkowitz, 1987), d i f f i c u l t y a d j u s t i n g (Tinto, 1987), or low self-esteem (George et a l . , 1992). Some emphasize the relevance of school r e l a t e d v a r i a b l e s , such as d i s s a t i s f a c t i o n with teachers or the school environment, or lac k of achievement (Cipywnyk, 1983; F r a n k l i n & S t r e e t e r , 1995; Radwanski, 1987; T i d w e l l , 1988). Others emphasize f a m i l y v a r i a b l e s such as r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s or dys f u n c t i o n , others socio-economic s t a t u s , race and c u l t u r a l v a r i a b l e s (Frank, 1990; M o r r i s , Pawlovich, & McCall, 1991; F r a n k l i n & S t r e e t e r , 1995). However, there i s o v e r a l l agreement that dropping out of high school before graduation i s a complex i n t e r a c t i v e process i n v o l v i n g the school environment, the student, the fa m i l y and s o c i a l f a c t o r s (George et a l . , 1992; Pittman, 1986; Price-Waterhouse, 1990; Wells, 1990). Q u a l i t a t i v e frameworks attempt to provide an understanding of the complex i n t e r a c t i o n between poor performance i n school and socio-economic f a c t o r s (Roderick, 1993). C i t i n g s e v e r a l studies (Bryk & Thum, 1989; Rumberger et a l . , 1990; T i d w e l l , 1988; Tinto, 1987), Roderick, (1993) attempts to describe the process of the i n t e r a c t i o n , whereby students from disadvantaged f a m i l i e s come to school w i t h c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s that place them at greater r i s k of dropping out. I t fo l l o w s that the school and classroom environment may be f a c t o r s i n f l u e n c i n g the l i k e l i h o o d of dropping out by c o n t r i b u t i n g to f e e l i n g s of being m a r g i n a l i z e d and i s o l a t e d . These f e e l i n g s may r e l a t e to perceived incongruence between the i n s t i t u t i o n and the students' perceived needs and i n t e r e s t s . Views of students surveyed i n a Canadian q u a l i t a t i v e study (Price-Waterhouse, 1990) a l s o r e f l e c t e d the view that dropping out was not a one-time d e c i s i o n , but a complex process. For them, the process i n v o l v e d f e e l i n g s of not f i t t i n g i n , a l i e n a t i o n , i s o l a t i o n and gradual withdrawal, ending i n a f e e l i n g of lack of perceived support, or even a perceived push to leave. Economic, s o c i a l and c u l t u r a l f a c t o r s were a l s o i d e n t i f i e d as b a r r i e r s i n t e r a c t i n g i n the process of dropping out (Price-Waterhouse, 1990). Q u a l i t a t i v e studies i n d i c a t e that students who leave school before graduating are not a homogenous group, but a heterogeneous one, with v a r i e d backgrounds ( F r a n k l i n & S t r e e t e r , 1995) . The Price-Waterhouse (1990) study i d e n t i f i e s e v e r a l categories of l e a v e r s , with d i s t i n c t socio-economic, c u l t u r a l , achievement and other contextual c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s . I f students who dropout are a heterogenous group and t h e r e f o r e not e a s i l y i d e n t i f i e d , i t f o l l o w s that the experience of l e a v i n g school i s l i k e l y i n f l u e n c e d by s i t u a t i o n a l , and contextual v a r i a b l e s . 21 From the previous review of the l i t e r a t u r e , an important question emerges: What f a c i l i t a t e s completion i n some students, and are there common help i n g f a c t o r s that i n f l u e n c e the process of completion. The answer to t h i s question should be valuable to program planning as w e l l as i n d i v i d u a l c o u n s e l l i n g i n t e r v e n t i o n s . Dropout Prevention P o l i c y p r e s c r i p t i o n s and i n t e r v e n t i o n s o f t e n do not f o l l o w from the recent research base (Roderick, 1993) and i n i t i a t i v e s are r a r e l y evaluated e m p i r i c a l l y (Morris, Pawlovich, & McCall, 1991). Programs and i n i t i a t i v e s to prevent dropouts have centred on i d e n t i f i c a t i o n of students at r i s k of dropping out, based on s t a t i s t i c a l p r o f i l e s . I t has been suggested that prevention programs pay s i g n i f i c a n t a t t e n t i o n to the school environment (Radwanski, 1987; Roderick, 1993), maximizing a t t e n t i o n and concern to the i n d i v i d u a l ( F r a n k l i n & S t r e e t e r , 1995). In 1991, the evaluated the e f f e c t i v e n e s s of some school dropout prevention s t r a t e g i e s and made suggestions f o r future i n t e r v e n t i o n s such as u t i l i z i n g a t u t o r or mentor, p a r e n t a l involvement, i n d i v i d u a l i z e d and self-paced i n s t r u c t i o n , and f l e x i b l e l e a r n i n g schedules. A common f a c t o r among these i n t e r v e n t i o n s appears to be a t t e n t i o n to s p e c i f i c , 22 i n d i v i d u a l i z e d needs of unique students, p a r t i c u l a r l y when needs are not being met by programs designed f o r the m a j o r i t y . Dropout prevention i n i t i a t i v e s are r a r e l y based on research, or e m p i r i c a l l y evaluated (Morris, Pawlovich, & M c C a l l , 1991). As w e l l , a review of the l i t e r a t u r e i n d i c a t e s that to date, most studies precludes the expressed or unique needs" of the i n d i v i d u a l s they are designed to serve. In Fourth Generation E v a l u a t i o n , Guba and L i n c o l n (1989) emphasized the importance of designing programs based on the input of those who w i l l be e f f e c t e d by the information, the users of the program, or stakeholders, as they are r e f e r r e d t o . In dropout prevention, t h i s would re q u i r e i n c l u d i n g the claims, issues and concerns of students i n research, e v a l u a t i o n and program development. As noted i n Land, and Hicks (1992), i f the educational system was more responsive to p u p i l needs during the phases they go through p r i o r to l e a v i n g , they might lessen the p o s s i b i l i t y of the students' d e c i s i o n to do so. Students need to be included i n program development and evaluations designed to help them to stay i n school. In 1988, S u l l i v a n followed-up on students who had l e f t high school and were p r e v i o u s l y surveyed, asking what might have persuaded them to stay i n school. Although the m a j o r i t y b e l i e v e d that no actions or circumstances would have 23 persuaded them to stay, the ones who f e l t they could have been persuaded spoke of school f a c t o r s such as improved courses and student-teacher r e l a t i o n s as v i t a l . The students f e l t that teachers and s t a f f j u s t d i d not care about them. In the o r i g i n a l study (Radwanski, 1987), one of the recommendations was to ensure that f e e l i n g s of a l i e n a t i o n - a major cause of dropping out - be d e a l t with i n f u t u r e i n t e r v e n t i o n s . Assuring that every student had at l e a s t one r e g u l a r , c a r i n g r e l a t i o n s h i p such as a mentor, or a teacher assigned to be responsible f o r monitoring a p a r t i c u l a r student's progress was suggested. I t f o l l o w s that research should begin such a process by reducing a l i e n a t i o n and i n c l u d i n g students i n the research. In T i d w e l l (1988), dropouts were asked to recommend prev e n t a t i v e measures. These students also suggested the need f o r more a t t e n t i o n to be p a i d to students, i n c l u d i n g a s s i s t a n c e w i t h academic d i f f i c u l t i e s and greater i n t e r a c t i o n with teachers. Roderick's study provided evidence that the s t r u c t u r e , p o l i c i e s and o r g a n i z a t i o n of schools, p a r t i c u l a r l y i n d e a l i n g w i t h t r a n s i t i o n s and r e p e t i t i o n of grades were lar g e c o n t r i b u t i n g f a c t o r s i n e a r l y school l e a v i n g , as they l e d to students f e e l i n g disengaged and withdrawn from membership i n the school community (Roderick, 1993). 24 The above examples i l l u s t r a t e the importance of stakeholder-informed i n t e r v e n t i o n s , which lead to students f e e l i n g i n c l u d e d and valued as members of the education community. This requires i n c l u d i n g t h e i r views and experiences not only i n program development, but a l s o i n research upon which programs should be based. One of the c o n d i t i o n s necessary to produce an e f f e c t i v e c o u n s e l l o r - c l i e n t r e l a t i o n s h i p i n order to a f f e c t change, i s empathy, which r e q u i r e s understanding the experiences, thoughts, f e e l i n g s and perceptions of the c l i e n t (Hackney & Cormier, 1996). The methodology chosen f o r t h i s study enables the i d e n t i f i c a t i o n of h e l p i n g f a c t o r s based on reports from those who have experienced the r i s k of not completing high school. I t i s t h e r e f o r e i n l i n e w ith Person-Centred p r i n c i p l e s and stakeholder-informed program development p r i n c i p l e s (Guba & L i n c o l n , 1989). C o u n s e l l i n g I n i t i a t i v e s i n Dropout Prevention The problem of e a r l y school l e a v i n g has been s t u d i e d by educators, s t a t i s t i c i a n s , and government, as w e l l as by other s o c i a l s c i e n t i s t s . However, few studies have addressed the i s s u e from the pe r s p e c t i v e of c o u n s e l l o r s or other stakeholders who are i n a p o s i t i o n to work d i r e c t l y w i t h students. Studies done by educators and p o l i c y makers tend to 25 have d i f f e r e n t goals, beginning assumptions and frameworks than those that would be done by c o u n s e l l i n g p r o f e s s i o n a l s . For example, educators and p o l i c y makers are concerned w i t h r e t e n t i o n numbers, and outcomes such as economic and s o c i a l c o s t s , whereas co u n s e l l o r s are i n s t e a d concerned w i t h how to help i n d i v i d u a l s cope with t h e i r unique problems. Since c o u n s e l l i n g research aims at developing programs that help i n d i v i d u a l s to cope with t h e i r own unique problems, at times research i n i t i a t i v e s tend to be more s o l u t i o n - f o c u s e d than problem-focused. Several studies suggest that c o u n s e l l o r s are i n a p o s i t i o n to work with these i n d i v i d u a l s and t h e i r unique problems (Bearden, Spencer, & Moracco, 1991; F r a n k l i n & S t r e e t e r , 1995; George et a l . , 1992). Most e x i s t i n g s t u d i e s , based on the xperson-as-problem' perspe c t i v e are incongruent w i t h c o u n s e l l i n g perspectives on h e l p i n g , which tend to be Person-Centred and thus s o l u t i o n o r i e n t e d . Counsellors are expected to implement programs to deal with dropout problems. They work i n d i v i d u a l l y with unique students who are not responding to cur r i c u l u m and programs designed f o r the m a j o r i t y . C o u n s e l l i n g research therefore has a r o l e to p l a y i n i n v e s t i g a t i n g the issue of e a r l y l e a v i n g from a Person- Centred p e r s p e c t i v e , to develop t h e o r i e s and programs that maximize the u t i l i t y to stakeholder/students. 26 F r a n k l i n and S t r e e t e r (1995) emphasized the importance of developing dropout prevention programs that maximize a t t e n t i o n and concern to the i n d i v i d u a l . George, Land, & Hicks (1992) noted that since the school dropout problem i s complex, the issue might be best d e a l t with by the s e r v i c e s of a school c o u n s e l l o r . They f u r t h e r pointed out that since school c o u n s e l l o r s are i n a key r o l e to be able to i d e n t i f y p o t e n t i a l dropouts and develop preventive measures, they need to have a thorough understanding of the needs of these students. Bearden, Spencer, and Moracco (1991) suggest that h e l p f u l s t u d i e s of the process of l e a v i n g school need to pay a t t e n t i o n to the complex nature of the process, and i n c l u d e the a f f e c t i v e component. For students who leave before graduation, lack of understanding may be a greater f a c t o r than any l e a r n i n g problem (Bearden, Spencer, & Moracco, 1991) . Students i n the S u l l i v a n study (1988) reported that o v e r a l l , they f e l t s t a f f members d i d not t r y very hard to get them to change t h e i r minds about dropping out, although those who spoke wi t h guidance c o u n s e l l o r s f e l t that they d i d t r y hard compared with other s t a f f . Bearden, Spencer, - and Moracco (1991) s t a t e that from the students' viewpoint, schools can help students to stay by c o u n s e l l i n g them, 27 showing respect and understanding. This seems to r e - a f f i r m that c o u n s e l l o r s may be an e x i s t i n g , undeveloped resource i n dropout prevention. In M o r r i s , Pawlovich, and McCall's report (1991), i t i s noted that c o u n s e l l i n g s e r v i c e s can be a s i g n i f i c a n t f a c t o r i n h e l p i n g students stay i n school by h e l p i n g them cope with personal and s o c i a l problems as w e l l as r e f e r r a l to community support and resources. D i f f e r e n t types of c o u n s e l l i n g i n t e r v e n t i o n s have been suggested, ranging from peer, career, support, c r i s i s , parent, and group (PRIOR ,1990; Wells, 1990). However, there does not appear to be a consensus i n the l i t e r a t u r e regarding s t a f f development i n t h i s area. • In a review of the l i t e r a t u r e on dropout prevention, Roderick (1993) summarized that commitment to reduce dropout ra t e s i n the 90s demands that we use past successes and f a i l u r e s to inform new approaches. Some of the recommendations that grew out of the study i n c l u d e o r i e n t a t i o n programs, i n c r e a s i n g peer and teacher support, guiding and monitoring students through small c o u n s e l l i n g groups, and r e s t r u c t u r i n g i n i t i a t i v e s that allow f o r teaching a more heterogeneous group of students. The need to take steps to reduce anonymity and bureaucracy f o r future dropout prevention i n i t i a t i v e s was also emphasized. I t f o l l o w s that research i n i t i a t i v e s , p a r t i c u l a r l y i n c o u n s e l l i n g , should 28 take steps to reduce anonymity and bureaucracy. Stakeholder- informed, q u a l i t a t i v e i n v e s t i g a t i o n s focused on success appear to be a n a t u r a l next step. Counsellors, t y p i c a l l y i n a p o s i t i o n to deal w i t h i n d i v i d u a l , unique problems appear to be i n an i d e a l p o s i t i o n to c o n t r i b u t e meaningfully to s t a y - i n - s c h o o l research and i n i t i a t i v e s , and i n doing so, to bridge the gap between the two. The c o u n s e l l i n g p r o f e s s i o n a l ' s a b i l i t y to communicate understanding and teach r e s p o n s i b i l i t y can be maximized i n the design of i n t e r v e n t i o n s f o r student who f e e l s that they do not belong or f i t i n . C o u n s e l l i n g research can a l s o p l a y a r o l e i n suggesting ways to make the system more responsive to student needs. In these ways, c o u n s e l l i n g has a r o l e to p l a y i n d e a l i n g with both the i n d i v i d u a l c l i e n t and the school system. Frymier (1992) suggested that i n a d d i t i o n to c a r i n g , understanding and n u r t u r i n g academic achievement, h e l p i n g youth a t - r i s k of dropping out requires c u l t i v a t i n g a sense of r e s p o n s i b i l i t y . Campbell and Myrick (1990) noted that school c o u n s e l l o r s have been s u c c e s s f u l i n h e l p i n g undermotivated students to be more s u c c e s s f u l by teaching r e s p o n s i b i l i t y . I t was the aim of t h i s study to explore what f a c i l i t a t e s s u c c e s s f u l graduation i n the face of d i f f i c u l t y , and that the i n f o r m a t i o n would be u s e f u l f o r the future development of 29 t h e o r i e s to a i d i n d i v i d u a l students, coping with t h e i r own, complex and unique experiences, to stay i n school. The stakeholder-included, Person-Centred methodology chosen considered the f i r s t step i n reducing bureaucracy, communicating understanding, and teaching r e s p o n s i b i l i t y . What Works In an a n a l y s i s of l o n g i t u d i n a l s t u d i e s of e a r l y school l e a v e r s , PRIOR (1990) i d e n t i f i e d recommended areas of research. They suggested that most urgent was the question of why c e r t a i n students stay i n school despite the presence of negative f a c t o r s . In From s t a r t to f i n i s h : A school d i s t r i c t guide to school drop-out prevention, the Canadian A s s o c i a t i o n of School A d m i n i s t r a t o r s (1992) argues that we need to l i s t e n to the message of students as to why they drop out. S u l l i v a n (1988) asked non-dropouts i f they ever contemplated l e a v i n g , and approximately 1 i n 6 reported that they had thought about i t . When they d i d , and i f they t a l k e d to someone, i t was most l i k e l y to be a guidance c o u n s e l l o r . They were twice as l i k e l y to i n d i c a t e that the person who they spoke to t r i e d very hard to get them to change t h e i r minds compared to the ones who e v e n t u a l l y dropped out. The i n d i v i d u a l a t t e n t i o n and perceived concern of a s t a f f member 30 appears to have important i n f l u e n c e on s t a y i n g i n school. This c o n t r i b u t e s to the r a t i o n a l e that c e r t a i n h e l p i n g f a c t o r s e x i s t and can be modified to a i d students experiencing the r i s k of dropping out. One of the recommendations of the Canadian Education A s s o c i a t i o n report (Morris, Pawlovich, & McCall, 1991) i s that future q u a l i t a t i v e research i s needed to i n v e s t i g a t e the perceptions of e a r l y leavers and discovers what i t i s about students that stay, that helps them with that d e c i s i o n . This study attempts to address the i s s u e . I t was hoped that the methodology used i n t h i s study, which p a i d s p e c i f i c a t t e n t i o n to the views of i n d i v i d u a l s with f i r s t hand experience of the r i s k of dropping out, would help answer that question, e v e n t u a l l y informing future programs and c o u n s e l l i n g i n t e r v e n t i o n s . The r e s u l t s of t h i s study should have increased personal relevance to those who experience the r i s k of e a r l y leave. Summary of L i t e r a t u r e Review The e x i s t i n g data on e a r l y leave of school tends to be q u a n t i t a t i v e , focusing on broad-spectrum program i n i t i a t i v e s , problem-focused rather than s o l u t i o n o r i e n t e d , despite growing evidence that students who dropout are a heterogeneous group of students who f e e l l o s t i n the 31 bureaucracy, and who need i n d i v i d u a l i z e d i n t e r v e n t i o n and a t t e n t i o n . Dropping out i s beginning to be understood as a complex i n t e r a c t i v e process i n c l u d i n g many f a c t o r s , and stu d i e s have begun to emphasize the need f o r inf o r m a t i o n about the process i n terms of what helps. Program i n i t i a t i v e s tend not to be based on research, and are r a r e l y evaluated. Student perspectives are r a r e l y heard. Q u a l i t a t i v e s t u d i e s that have included the views of students seem to i n d i c a t e that what was u s e f u l and what i s needed are c a r i n g , understanding p r o f e s s i o n a l s such as counselors who can help students cope with unique problems. Counsellors need i n f o r m a t i o n on what helps students who are coping w i t h the process of s t a y i n g i n school or dropping out, i n order to f a c i l i t a t e that success with students. This study explored the issue of the experienced r i s k of e a r l y leave from school from the perspect i v e of the student as stakeholder, and explored what worked f o r students who almost dropped out then succeeded i n graduating. Students who reported having experienced the r i s k of e a r l y leave before completing high school shared t h e i r experiences through i n t e r v i e w s . The research question was: What f a c i l i t a t e s completion of high school f o r students who experience the r i s k of e a r l y leave? Risk was assessed by s e l f - r e p o r t r ather than s t a t i s t i c a l p r o f i l e s i n order to 32 i n c l u d e the experiences of what might be a heterogeneous group. This approach, which included f a c t o r s that f a c i l i t a t e completion i n s p i t e of problems, was taken i n an attempt to improve the u t i l i t y of r e s u l t s to a l l stakeholders, i n c l u d i n g students and those working to support them. I t i s hoped that i n f o r m a t i o n discovered i n t h i s study w i l l lead to beginning t h e o r e t i c a l understanding of how to work with students who experience the r i s k of e a r l y leave. In the long run, the design of m a t e r i a l s and perhaps programs that promote completion f o r those experiencing the r i s k of dropping out may develop based on t h i s information. 33 CHAPTER 3 METHODOLOGY Overview This study was designed to discover the c r i t i c a l i n c i d e n t s that f a c i l i t a t e high school graduation f o r students who experience the r i s k of e a r l y leave. In order to provide the r i c h n e s s of information that was necessary to explore a r e l a t i v e l y un-researched aspect of the dropout phenomenon, a q u a l i t a t i v e , d i s c o v e r y - o r i e n t e d approach was u t i l i z e d . A v a r i a t i o n of the C r i t i c a l Incident Technique was used (Flanagan, 1954). C r i t i c a l Incident Technique i s a form of in t e r v i e w research i n which p a r t i c i p a n t s provide d e s c r i p t i v e accounts of events that f a c i l i t a t e or hinder a p a r t i c u l a r aim. P a r t i c i p a n t s are s e l e c t e d f o r a study who have been i n a p o s i t i o n to experience or observe r e l e v a n t f a c i l i t a t i o n or hindrance, and who are able to a r t i c u l a t e t h e i r experience. Due to the s o l u t i o n o r i e n t a t i o n explained i n the r a t i o n a l e f o r t h i s study, f a c i l i t a t i n g events were the focus and hi n d e r i n g events were not included i n the data a n a l y s i s . In l i n e w ith the methodology, i n c i d e n t s were defined and described by the p a r t i c i p a n t s , who were considered experts. The research was discovery o r i e n t e d , and t h e r e f o r r e s u l t s should be u s e f u l i n beginning to map out a theory r a t h e r than t e s t i n g a s p e c i f i c hypothesis .(Mahrer, 1992). 34 An a n a l y s i s of the data using an ex p l o r a t o r y methodology should c o n t r i b u t e ideas on how to support and promote s u c c e s s f u l completion of high school i n students who are experiencing d i f f i c u l t i e s . By i n c l u d i n g ideas from students who completed high school despite d i f f i c u l t i e s , programs that a r i s e out of t h i s study should be valuable to other students who perceive themselves to be experiencing d i f f i c u l t y completing. Those who may not b e n e f i t from e x i s t i n g i n t e r v e n t i o n s may f i n d greater face-value i n h e l p i n g c a t e g o r i e s developed from i n t e r v i e w s with other students who str u g g l e d . This chapter w i l l present s p e c i f i c i n f o r m a t i o n o u t l i n i n g the p a r t i c i p a n t s , data gathering techniques, a method of e x t r a c t i n g and recording c r i t i c a l i n c i d e n t s and a n a l y t i c a l procedures f o r data a n a l y s i s . The C r i t i c a l Incident Technique The C r i t i c a l Incident Technique, a form of i n t e r v i e w research i n which p a r t i c i p a n t s provide d e s c r i p t i v e accounts of events that f a c i l i t a t e d or hindered a p a r t i c u l a r aim was developed by Flanagan (1954). He defined an i n c i d e n t as "any observable human a c t i v i t y that i s s u f f i c i e n t l y complete i n i t s e l f to permit inferences and p r e d i c t i o n s to be made about the person performing the a c t . " (p.327). According to 35 Flanagan (1954), the i n c i d e n t "must occur i n a s i t u a t i o n where the purpose or i n t e n t of the act seems f a i r l y c l e a r to the observer and where i t s consequences are s u f f i c i e n t l y d e f i n i t e to leave l i t t l e doubt concerning i t ' s e f f e c t s . " (p. 327) . During World War I I , Flanagan,(1954) c o l l e c t e d c r i t i c a l i n c i d e n t s e l i c i t e d from p i l o t t r a i n e e s . The i n f o r m a t i o n gathered was l a t e r used as c r i t e r i a f o r s e l e c t i o n and t r a i n i n g of f l i g h t crew and p i l o t s . Many studie s have since used the approach (Andersson & N i l s s o n , 1964; McCormick, 1995, V i s p o e l & A u s t i n , 1995) f o r gathering and c l a s s i f y i n g data i n the form of observable behaviors or i n c i d e n t s considered c r i t i c a l f o r those experiencing them. The method gives the researcher d e f i n a b l e data that can -then be analyzed with r e l a t i v e ease, which i s also r e l e v a n t , p r a c t i c a l , and important to p a r t i c i p a n t s . R e l i a b i l i t y and v a l i d i t y procedures were provided by Andersson and N i l s s o n (1964), who reported that data c o l l e c t e d and analyzed by t h i s method was complete, comprehensive and r e s i s t a n t to i n t e r v i e w e r d i f f e r e n c e , had s t a b l e c l a s s i f i c a t i o n of c a t e g o r i e s , and good i n t e r - r a t e r r e l i a b i l i t y . Andersson and N i l s s o n (1964) a l s o o u t l i n e d a d d i t i o n a l v a l i d i t y and r e l i a b i l i t y checks w i l l be used i n t h i s study. 36 This technique was u t i l i z e d f o r t h i s study because i t provides a u s e f u l t o o l f o r gathering and c l a s s i f y i n g data i n t o c a t e g o r i e s . I t i s amenable to q u a l i t a t i v e and r e l a t i v e l y u n structured data gathering procedures and has been widely used by other researchers. I t s use i n t h i s study should produce u s e f u l , p r a c t i c a l information to help students s t r u g g l i n g with the process of s t a y i n g i n school. C r i t i c a l i n c i d e n t s are defined by the p a r t i c i p a n t s . In order to be defined as c r i t i c a l , p a r t i c i p a n t s w i l l be asked to describe only those events important enough to have i n f l u e n c e d t h e i r d e c i s i o n to stay i n school through completion and the process of doing so. In a v a r i a t i o n of the technique, i n t h i s study, p a r t i c i p a n t s w i l l be asked to t a l k about i n c i d e n t s or events that helped them to continue past the a t - r i s k time, to completion of high school. Hindering events w i l l not be censored, but w i l l be excluded from the a n a l y s i s of the data. P a r t i c i p a n t s complete i n t e r v i e w s , from which c r i t i c a l i n c i d e n t s are e x t r a c t e d and then grouped by s i m i l a r i t y to form a set of categories to comprehensively cover the events. This category system provides a map of what f a c i l i t a t e s a given aim, and can be used to develop a theory, to construct a t e s t , to design programs, or f o r future research to r e f i n e , extend, or r e v i s e categories (McCormick, 1995). 37 The term dropout and the term e a r l y school leaver are used interchangeably i n t h i s study, r e f l e c t i n g the use of the terms i n the current l i t e r a t u r e . When p o s s i b l e , the researcher uses the words e a r l y leave, as i t describes a process or experience and thereby avoids l a b e l i n g an i n d i v i d u a l . As thus, i t i s l e s s derogatory. Graduation or completion w i l l mean having completed the requirements and having graduated from high school. This study looked at the challenge of s t a y i n g i n school f o r a student who s u b j e c t i v e l y experienced the r i s k of e a r l y leave, to i d e n t i f y h e l p i n g f a c t o r s that may a i d other students i n s i m i l a r s i t u a t i o n s . The general aim, as d e f i n e d by Flanagan's (1954) o r i g i n a l work, i s to formulate a d e s c r i p t i o n of s u c c e s s f u l behaviour, or adjustment i n a s p e c i f i c s i t u a t i o n , i n order to determine the requirements f o r success i n that s i t u a t i o n . P a r t i c i p a n t s The p a r t i c i p a n t s f o r t h i s study were drawn from people who graduated from high school i n the l a s t few years. Graduates were chosen because the study explored what f a c i l i t a t e s graduation, and those who are s t i l l i n high school may not graduate. I t was decided to l i m i t the study to those who have r e c e n t l y graduated to ensure c l a r i t y of 38 r e t r o s p e c t i v e r e p o r t s . The b e n e f i t of r e t r o s p e c t i v e r e p o r t s i s that i n the passing of time, i n d i v i d u a l s have opportunity to r e f l e c t on what happened and may be b e t t e r able to a r t i c u l a t e t h e i r experience. The drawback i s that i t i s a r e c o l l e c t i o n . The r e s u l t s of t h i s study are r e l e v a n t to a l l high school students, whether they f i t e x i s t i n g a t - r i s k p r o f i l e s or not, since the sample was not based on a p r o f i l e , but r a t h e r an experience. They are also r e l e v a n t across geographic regions i n high schools. As s t a t e d e a r l i e r , r e s u l t s from other studies (Borgen & Amunsdson, 1984; Cochran, 1985) have shown that the r e s u l t s of q u a l i t a t i v e research can be u s e f u l to populations outside of the geographic and demographic parameters w i t h i n which that data was gathered. Sixteen volunteers were r e c r u i t e d (7 males, 9 females) through personal networking, and through posters at community centres and community c o l l e g e s . I t was hoped that p a r t i c i p a n t s i n the study would r e f l e c t the d i v e r s e c u l t u r a l backgrounds of Canadian s o c i e t y . To ensure t h i s , posters were be placed i n areas with e t h n i c a l l y d i v e r s e communities. The f o l l o w i n g e t h n o - c u l t u r a l group memberships were represented i n the sample, Korean, Chinese, Jewish, East- Indian, Caucasian and L a t i n o . The e t h n i c background of 39 p a r t i c i p a n t s , however, was not fac t o r e d i n , since the focus of the study was a common experience, rather than a p a r t i c u l a r demographic. As w e l l , as mentioned, q u a l i t a t i v e research r e s u l t s are u s e f u l outside demographic parameters. P i l o t Interviews Before conducting the study, p i l o t i n t e r v i e w s were conducted with two p a r t i c i p a n t s to see whether r e c o l l e c t i o n of events was d i f f i c u l t , to assess the i n t e r v i e w procedure and define the context statement, and to determine whether the researcher was using l e a d i n g questions. The context statement was s l i g h t l y r e f i n e d to c l a r i f y the request f o r concrete, h e l p i n g v a r i a b l e s versus t h e o r e t i c a l ideas about what helps i n times of a d v e r s i t y . Date C o l l e c t i o n There were no r i g i d r u l e s i n the data c o l l e c t i o n stage of the research, however, only reports from q u a l i f i e d observers were u t i l i z e d . While s u b j e c t i v e data w i l l be obtained, i t has been shown that p a r t i c i p a n t s do tend to make s i m i l a r observations with regards to c r i t i c a l i n c i d e n t s , supporting a sense of o b j e c t i v i t y (Flanagan, 1954). The researcher must ensure that i n c i d e n t s are w e l l defined i n a c l e a r and concise manner, so that competence i n 40 i n t e r p r e t a t i o n can be achieved. Incidents are c o l l e c t e d from p a r t i c i p a n t s and the data w i l l be described and summarized i n a way that i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s can be drawn. The main in t e r v i e w s f o r t h i s study l a s t e d between f o r t y - f i v e minutes and one hour, depending on the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' a b i l i t y to r e c a l l events, and t h e i r w i l l i n g n e s s to engage i n the research process. Interviews were audio-taped. Most i n t e r v i e w s were held i n an o f f i c e i n the C o u n s e l l i n g Psychology department at the U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia w i t h two i n t e r v i e w s conducted at a pre-arranged room i n a l o c a l community c o l l e g e , and one i n a p a r t i c i p a n t s ' home, at t h e i r convenience. An information package c o n s i s t i n g of a b r i e f d e s c r i p t i o n of the researcher's background and a thorough d e s c r i p t i o n of the purpose of the study were provided to p a r t i c i p a n t s . The i n t e r e s t e d people contacted the researcher by telephone or e-mail to arrange f o r an i n t e r v i e w time. The i n t e r v i e w s began with an explanation of c o n f i d e n t i a l i t y , and s i g n i n g of consent forms. The tape re c o r d i n g procedures were then explained. A short demographic questionnaire was answered on audio-tape. A context statement, adapted from Young (1991) and the f i r s t question was read: 41 "People sometimes report d i f f i c u l t i e s staying' i n high school u n t i l graduation. Some experience a r i s k of almost dropping out, but manage to stay i n school u n t i l graduation. Some leave, then r e t u r n to graduate. Some things work b e t t e r than others to help with t h i s d i f f i c u l t time. By sharing your experiences, you w i l l help i d e n t i f y p o s i t i v e f a c t o r s e f f e c t i n g your d e c i s i o n , and subsequent success completing high school. Please t h i n k back to s p e c i f i c i n c i d e n t s that helped your d e c i s i o n to complete, and graduate. What I am i n t e r e s t e d i n are concrete events rather than opinions and t h e o r i e s . Think back to when you experienced a r i s k of almost dropping out of school, but then decided to stay, or l e f t and returned to complete. Describe how you came to make t h i s d e c i s i o n and experience the completion of high school i n c l u d i n g what happened j u s t before, at the time, and s h o r t l y afterwards." The researcher used a number of prompts to make c e r t a i n that i n c i d e n t s were developed completely (Flanagan, 1954), to b u i l d rapport, and to make c e r t a i n that the p a r t i c i p a n t s were not being biased by the researcher (Borgen & Amundson, 1984). Some p a r t i c i p a n t s were asked the f o l l o w i n g questions f o r c l a r i f i c a t i o n : 1. How d i d the i n c i d e n t change your f e e l i n g or t h i n k i n g about s t a y i n g i n school? 42 2. What l e d up to the i n c i d e n t ? 3. What e x a c t l y happened at t h i s time? 4. What happened a f t e r the i n c i d e n t ? P a r t i c i p a n t s were encouraged to t e l l t h e i r s t o r i e s i n as much d e t a i l as they wished. The i n t e r v i e w was unst r u c t u r e d w i t h minimal responses from the i n t e r v i e w e r i n order to e l i c i t i n f o r m a t i o n without l e a d i n g the p a r t i c i p a n t s . Once the f i r s t i n c i d e n t was f u l l y explored, the researcher then asked the f o l l o w i n g : "Can you t h i n k of another event that helped f a c i l i t a t e your d e c i s i o n to stay i n school?" This process was continued u n t i l a l l f a c i l i t a t i n g events were explored. Data A n a l y s i s The a n a l y s i s of the i n c i d e n t s i n v o l v e d three steps. F i r s t , i n c i d e n t s were ex t r a c t e d from the audio-taped i n t e r v i e w s , and these were recorded on 4X6 inch cards, one i n c i d e n t per card. Second, the i n c i d e n t cards were grouped according to thematic s i m i l a r i t y , i n order to form c a t e g o r i e s . Third, these categories were then subjected to se v e r a l t e s t s to examine t h e i r r e l i a b i l i t y and v a l i d i t y . 43 Recording and E x t r a c t i n g Incidents The i n t e r v i e w s were audio-recorded, assigned a code number corresponding to consent and c o n f i d e n t i a l i t y forms wi t h subjects' names. The audio tapes were then t r a n s c r i b e d verbatum. Each audio tape and t r a n s c r i p t was c a r e f u l l y s t u d i e d by the researcher i n order to understand the f u l l meaning of the statement. The researcher i n i t i a l l y h i g h l i g h t e d everything resembling an event. The researcher and research supervisor than i n t e n s e l y examined the l i s t to determine the f o l l o w i n g : (a) Was there a c l e a r source f o r the event? (b) Could the s t o r y be s t a t e d i n reasonable completeness? What a c t u a l l y happened? (c) Was there an outcome bearing on the aim? Vague statements and i r r e l e v a n t i n f o r m a t i o n were deleted to ensure that these three c r i t e r i a were met. The data was t r a n s f e r r e d to note cards, w i t h t e n t a t i v e category t i t l e s provided by the researcher. The circumstances surrounding the i n c i d e n t , what l e d up to i t , what e x a c t l y what happened at the time, and what the r e s u l t were, w r i t t e n onto note cards, one i n c i d e n t per card. The p a r t i c i p a n t s ' code number was recorded on the back of each card and the i n c i d e n t number was also recorded, f o r example, " # 1 - 2 " was used to i n d i c a t e the second event mentioned by interviewee number one. Once a l l the i n c i d e n t s were recorded 44 and coded f o r each p a r t i c i p a n t , the audio-tape was reviewed again to ensure i n c i d e n t s were recorded c o r r e c t l y . A n a l y t i c a l Procedures The goal of t h i s step according to Flanagan (1954) i s "to summarize and describe the data i n an e f f i c i e n t manner so that i t can be e f f e c t i v e l y used f o r many p r a c t i c a l purposes." (p. 344). He noted that researchers may increase the usefulness of the a n a l y s i s by e s t a b l i s h i n g the general frame of reference, by using i n d u c t i v e processes to develop the s p e c i f i c c a t e g o r i e s , and by s e l e c t i n g a l e v e l of s p e c i f i c i t y through which to report the r e s u l t s . Each i n c i d e n t was recorded onto cards i n three c o n s t i t u e n t p a r t s : source, a c t i o n taken/what a c t u a l l y happened, and outcome. This was a challenge as the researcher had to ensure that the three c r i t e r i a were met, e s p e c i a l l y when p a r t i c i p a n t s r e c a l l e d events w i t h v a r y i n g degrees of c l a r i t y and completeness. Thus, sometimes i t was necessary to paraphrase events to convey the f u l l meaning of the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' messages. Whenever p o s s i b l e , the words of the p a r t i c i p a n t were l e f t unchanged so that the essence of what was s a i d was maintained i n i t s purest form. In the next step the i n c i d e n t s were d i v i d e d i n t o groups that seemed s i m i l a r . Cards were t e n t a t i v e l y s orted i n t o p i l e s 45 thought to have some common meanings. The focus on s o r t i n g was on the second c r i t e r i o n : the a c t i o n taken/what a c t u a l l y happened. To ensure that the events were comprised of the three c r i t e r i a , p r o t o t y p i c a l events were i d e n t i f i e d and used as templates f o r f u r t h e r d e c i s i o n s . A p r o t o t y p i c a l even was one that best described the thematic group i n question as i t had the greatest number and c l e a r e s t of d e f i n i n g c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s f o r that category. Prototypes served as examples f o r future s o r t i n g of events i n t o s i m i l a r groups/categories. Ambiguous or questionable events were set aside, to be used as challengers to the f i r s t attempt at category formation. The c a t e g o r i z a t i o n was then subjected to the supervisor's examination and as a r e s u l t , the ca t e g o r i e s were f u r t h e r r e f i n e d and r e v i s e d . Ambiguous events were used i n the second attempt at c a t e g o r i z i n g when they were used as the c h a l l e n g e r . Categories were f u r t h e r r e f i n e d as a r e s u l t . This process of challenge and c o n f r o n t a t i o n was continued u n t i l s t a b i l i t y was achieved. Category names emerged from the card content and renamed a f t e r the r e f i n i n g process. I t was necessary to rename some of the categories to a c c u r a t e l y represent the content of the i n c i d e n t s w i t h i n the category. Sixteen categories emerged, which contained a l l the i n c i d e n t s . 46 I t was expected that m o d i f i c a t i o n s would have to be made as the a n a l y s i s progressed. Some category names were s l i g h t l y a l t e r e d to f u l l y represent the i n c i d e n t s contained i n i t . ' Most remained unchanged. To enhance the q u a l i t y of r e l a t i o n s h i p between category and i n c i d e n t s i n terms of p a r t i c i p a t i o n rate and contents, a few i n c i d e n t s were r e - c i r c u l a t e d . P a r t i c i p a t i o n rates i n terms of percentages were then c a l c u l a t e d f o r each category. V a l i d a t i o n Procedures The categories were assessed i n f i v e d i f f e r e n t ways answering f i v e d i f f e r e n t types of questions regarding the soundness and trustworthiness of the category system. F i r s t , can d i f f e r e n t people use the categories i n a c o n s i s t e n t way? To answer t h i s question, two independent judges were asked to p a r t i c i p a t e . Both were graduate students i n the Department of C o u n s e l l i n g Psychology, U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia. On separate occasions each judge was provided w i t h a b r i e f d e s c r i p t i o n of the categories and then asked to place a sample of twenty-five i n c i d e n t s under appropriate c a t e g o r i e s . By comparing the placement of i n c i d e n t s by judges w i t h the o r i g i n a l placement of i n c i d e n t s while forming c a t e g o r i e s , the number of h i t s and misses can be summarized s t a t i s t i c a l l y as a percentage of agreement. Flanagan (1954) recommends a 75% 47 l e v e l of agreement or more to consider a system of c a t e g o r i e s s u f f i c i e n t l y r e l i a b l e f o r using. A high l e v e l of agreement i n d i c a t e s that d i f f e r e n t persons can use the c a t e g o r i e s to - c a t e g o r i z e i n c i d e n t s i n a c o n s i s t e n t or r e l i a b l e manner. The second question i s whether the category system i s reasonably comprehensive and complete. Following Andersson and N i l s s o n ' s g u i d e l i n e s (1964), approximately 10% of the cards (14 i n c i d e n t s ) were withdrawn and not examined u n t i l the c a t e g o r i e s were formed. When category formations are f i n i s h e d , these i n c i d e n t s were examined and c l a s s i f i e d by the researcher. This t e s t checks i f the i n c i d e n t s can be e a s i l y and reasonably placed i n the e x i s t i n g category system. I f they can not, new categories would have to be formed. I f the i n c i d e n t s are e a s i l y and reasonably placed i n e x i s t i n g c a t e g o r i e s , i t suggests that the category system i s comprehensive, at l e a s t p r o v i s i o n a l l y . The p o s s i b i l i t y e x i s t s that the researcher may be motivated to place the i n c i d e n t s i n e x i s t i n g c a t e g o r i e s , however, the since the research aim i s comprehensiveness as w e l l as c l a r i t y of the category scheme, the r i s k i s minimized. The t h i r d question involves whether the c a t e g o r i e s are sound and w e l l founded. To form a category, the researcher must i d e n t i f y a s i g n i f i c a n t s i m i l a r i t y among group of i n c i d e n t s reported by d i f f e r e n t people. P a r t i c i p a n t s 48 independently report the same kind of event. I f only one person or a few people report a category of event, i t may be dismissed. For example, one person may f a b r i c a t e or d i s t o r t the memory of an event. However, when many people report the same kind of event, such p o s s i b i l i t i e s of f a b r i c a t i o n or d i s t o r t i o n begin to lose f o r c e . Agreement among independent persons i s one c r i t e r i o n f o r the o b j e c t i v i t y of an event. C e r t a i n l y there are other ways to assess the soundness of a category (e.g., the c l a r i t y and p l a u s i b i l i t y of events w i t h i n i t ) . However, i n t e r p e r s o n a l agreement remains a b a s i c t e s t of soundness. Agreement w i l l be gauged by p a r t i c i p a t i o n r a t e f o r each category (the number of p a r t i c i p a n t s r e p o r t i n g a category of event d i v i d e d by the t o t a l number of p a r t i c i p a n t s ) . Fourth, the soundness of categories can a l s o be assessed by judgements from i n d i v i d u a l s who are h i g h l y q u a l i f i e d to judge the relevance and usefulness of a category of event f o r f a c i l i t a t i n g or h i n d e r i n g a p a r t i c u l a r aim. In t h i s study, two c o u n s e l l i n g p r o f e s s i o n a l s were asked to determine whether the c a t e g o r i e s are u s e f u l to them. In t h i s study, these i n d i v i d u a l s were c o u n s e l l o r t r a i n e r s with experience i n the school system, with d o c t o r a l degrees and experience i n f a c i l i t a t i n g graduation f o r students at r i s k of e a r l y leave. 49 F i n a l l y , the soundness of a category can be assessed through agreement with previous research. I f a category of event disagrees with previous research, i t s v a l i d i t y may be questioned. I t may not be a u t o m a t i c a l l y dismissed, but i t w i l l be considered more questionable i f i t c o n t r a d i c t s p r i o r evidence from other s t u d i e s . I f a category or event agrees wi t h previous research, confidence i n i t s soundness i s c a l l e d f o r . I f a category of event i s novel, n e i t h e r confirming or d i s c o n f i r m i n g previous research i t w i l l stand alone as a p o s s i b i l i t y to be confirmed or not by future research. To assess agreement, the categories w i l l be compared wi t h previous research and informed option. Chapter Summary The purpose of t h i s chapter was to present i n f o r m a t i o n to allow the reader to understand the process of the research i n greater depth and d e t a i l . A d e s c r i p t i o n of the p a r t i c i p a n t s was included, as w e l l as an o u t l i n e of the research procedures that were used. I t i s a n t i c i p a t e d that f u t u r e researchers w i l l use the techniques described to r e p l i c a t e the study w i t h other populations, or use s i m i l a r questions. Further i n f o r m a t i o n about demographics and consent/information forms w i l l be included i n the appendix. 50 CHAPTER 4 RESULTS I n t r o d u c t i o n Through in t e r v i e w s with 16 high school graduates who reported that at one time they experienced the r i s k of dropping out (7 men, 9 women), 142 c r i t i c a l i n c i d e n t s were e l i c i t e d concerning what f a c i l i t a t e d completion of high school f o r t h i s p o p u l a t i o n . The f o l l o w i n g e t h n o - c u l t u r a l group memberships were represented i n the sample, Korean, Chinese, Jewish, East-Indian, Caucasian and L a t i n o . A d d i t i o n a l information about the p a r t i c i p a n t s i s a v a i l a b l e i n appendix B. The 142 c r i t i c a l i n c i d e n t s were organized i n t o 16 c a t e g o r i e s . In t h i s chapter, these categories are f i r s t d escribed, than the methods used to e s t a b l i s h the r e l i a b i l i t y and v a l i d i t y of the categories are reported, followed by informed o p i n i o n about the u t i l i t y of c a t e g o r i e s , and r e s u l t s of the a n a l y s i s of agreement with previous research. Anecdotal information, which emerged i n the i n t e r v i e w s and was considered relevant by the researcher, w i l l be described. D e s c r i p t i o n of the Categories This s e c t i o n presents each of the s i x t e e n c a t e g o r i e s by p r o v i d i n g a b r i e f d e s c r i p t i o n of the category and examples of 51 i n c i d e n t s i n the category. Categories are presented i n random order as there was no attempt to rank them i n order of importance. A l l the i n c i d e n t s describe what has f a c i l i t a t e d completion of high school f o r people who p a r t i c i p a t e d i n the study. Emotional support and guidance (29 I n c i d e n t s ) . This category r e f e r s to the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' reported experience of other people acknowledging t h e i r s t r u g g l e s and expressing support, encouragement and guidance. I t does not i n c l u d e being recognized f o r a p a r t i c u l a r achievement i n school, but r a t h e r the focus i s on the emotions of the i n d i v i d u a l . Support, encouragement and guidance came from d i f f e r e n t sources, such as f r i e n d s , f a m i l y , teachers and c o u n s e l l o r s . The events ranged from a teacher passing i n the hallway and acknowledging that the student was s t r u g g l i n g w i t h an emotional issu e , to parents a l l o w i n g and accepting the i n d i v i d u a l ' s own way of coping with emotional problems. A number of p a r t i c i p a n t s mentioned having been high achievers who began to f a i l and s k i p c l a s s e s on purpose i n order to f i t i n . Most of the p a r t i c i p a n t s mentioned f e e l i n g a sense of not belonging, f e e l i n g s of low s e l f - w o r t h , and the l o s s of meaning. Some reported problems with t h e i r f a m i l y and s o c i a l groups. These f e e l i n g s and problems were oft e n i d e n t i f i e d as reasons f o r needing someone to t a l k td". In a d d i t i o n , anger, drug involvement, peer pressure, g r i e f , and having to leave t r o u b l e d homes were mentioned as reasons f o r needing emotional support. Many p a r t i c i p a n t s considered j u s t having someone l i s t e n to them to be an important step i n d e a l i n g with emotions i n order to be able to focus on schoolwork. Examples " I was p r e t t y depressed most of the time. My mom and my dad were very understanding when I missed school and s l e p t a l o t . My mom acknowledged how I was f e e l i n g i n s t e a d of what I should be doing. L i k e a good t h e r a p i s t , she acknowledged that f e e l i n g s are okay to have. They didn't c r i t i c i z e me, even though i t was a s l i g h t l y s t r i c t Chinese f a m i l y where academic achievement i s so important. They l e t me do my own h e a l i n g process. I t helped me from g e t t i n g more upset and l e s s motivated. I was able to maintain at l e a s t a minimum l e v e l of energy regarding f o r schoolwork because home was my sanctuary. I could do homework th e r e . " "When I was having emotional problems and not g e t t i n g work done, the school kept c a l l i n g . My mother was t o t a l l y on my s i d e . She t o l d the school that she would not run there every time they t h i n k I can't make a 53 d e c i s i o n on my own. She also accepted i t when I needed to take time o f f f o r emotional reasons. She didn't say anything about i t . I t gave me courage to go back and deal w i t h school because she was behind me. Without th a t , I don't know what would have happened." "Once I came back, I kept up reg u l a r weekly meetings wi t h the c o u n s e l l o r . She would always make time to see me. I couldn't t a l k to my parents about my problems, and I could t e l l that she cared. I f I had a bad day because of an assignment or something, I could go t a l k to her. She made a b i g e f f o r t to t e l l me to leave my problems behind when I come to school, to separate the two. Not forget about my problems, but to t h i n k about them on the bus on the way home in s t e a d of i n school when I had to concentrate. She was a b i g d i f f e r e n c e to me. She t r i e d to see i f you could f i g u r e things out on your own. I t gave me the reason to be there. I t helped me wi t h my personal l i f e so I wouldn't be d i s t r a c t e d at school. I t also helped me with r e l a t i o n s h i p s w i t h my parents and f r i e n d s . I t was huge. She was my mentor. I was under the impression that a l l c o u n s e l l o r s were l i k e that a f t e r I l e f t high school." 54 " I was having a hard time at school because I was depressed. My grandfather had died, and I was fed up with school. I was f a i l i n g courses. They signed me up wit h a s o c i a l worker. She was great. She j u s t l i s t e n e d and l e t me t a l k s t u f f out. Somebody who l i s t e n e d , which was something I didn't have at a l l . I was able to get s t u f f o f f my chest so I would f e e l refreshed. I could concentrate on school." Respect from teachers (9 I n c i d e n t s ) . This category included i n c i d e n t s i n which the i n d i v i d u a l f e l t respected by a teacher with regards to schoolwork. The experience of f e e l i n g respected was oft e n described as being t r e a t e d l i k e an adult or equal, and having the acknowledged r i g h t to a unique or d i f f e r e n t p e r s p e c t i v e . Although some of the comments regarding the outcome of being t r e a t e d w i t h respect suggest a f e e l i n g of v a l i d a t i o n , the focus i n t h i s category i s on a teacher a c t i o n or teaching s t y l e that communicated acknowledgement of the b a s i c worthiness of the student rather than r e c o g n i t i o n of an a b i l i t y or achievement. Examples "At my new school, there wasn't a g u l f between teachers and students. They recognized that students could be experts on something that they didn't know about. We were t r e a t e d l i k e m i n i - a d u l t s . I t was unb e l i e v a b l e . I l i k e d the school and f e l t respected by the teachers, so I worked hard." "In my new school, we got to c a l l our teachers by t h e i r f i r s t names. That i s a huge t h i n g that puts you on a l e v e l p l a y i n g ground. I had problems w i t h the a u t h o r i t a t i v e s t y l e of teaching i n the r e g u l a r school system. I was so insecure and the teachers made me f e e l subservient i n the o l d school. In t h i s new, e g a l i t a r i a n atmosphere, I worked r e a l l y hard. We went from t r y i n g to make teachers angry and f r u s t r a t e d , to t r y i n g to impress them, i n s i x months. Just because of the change i n teaching s t y l e . " " I wrote a paper about how the school system f a i l e d me and that i s how I passed and got my E n g l i s h c r e d i t . The teacher agreed with every word I s a i d because he was open minded to other p e r s p e c t i v e s . The teacher I gave i t to before had disagreed with my ideas and f a i l e d me. I t was the second time I took that c l a s s , but wit h t h i s teacher I f e l t I was being respected. I graduated. And even though I didn't do very w e l l , I got through." 56 Opportunity to p a r t i c i p a t e and get help (9 I n c i d e n t s ) . This category included the opportunity to share the l e a r n i n g , e i t h e r by asking questions and g e t t i n g help, or being asked to co n t r i b u t e i n c l a s s . The common v a r i a b l e among the i n c i d e n t s was the chance to share the experience of l e a r n i n g . Several p a r t i c i p a n t s mentioned f e e l i n g motivated and i n c l u d e d as an outcome of being allowed to p a r t i c i p a t e and ask questions. Some mentioned that j u s t knowing there was an avenue to get help with homework helped them to r e l a x and concentrate on l e a r n i n g while they were i n c l a s s . P a r t i c i p a n t s a t t r i b u t e d the p a r t i c i p a t i o n and help to mo t i v a t i o n and improvement i n grades. Examples "They showed me a d i f f e r e n t way to l e a r n . My E n g l i s h teacher was an a c t i n g teacher, and I am r e a l l y i n t o a c t i n g . He would l e t us read things out loud and p a r t i c i p a t e . He gave you a l l s o r t s of ideas. He brought h i s perspective to c l a s s . I t was the same c l a s s I took before that I dropped, j u s t a d i f f e r e n t way of teaching. I was motivated. I wanted to l e a r n . " " I would go to t h i s study block time where I could work on things and get help from teachers. I asked questions and could get them answered. I t made i t f e e l safe when 57 I was i n c l a s s , that I had a backup. That i f I don't get i t i n c l a s s , I could go and get my questions answered l a t e r . " "My f r i e n d s who were not i n school would sometimes help w i t h my homework and my p r o j e c t s . I t helped me r e a l l y focused on school and want to l e a r n . I was seriou s and I d i d w e l l . " Medication (2 I n c i d e n t s ) . This category includes having a p r e s c r i p t i o n f o r a diagnosed a f f e c t i v e d i s o r d e r changed to a more e f f e c t i v e one, or one wi t h l e s s side e f f e c t s . The outcome was r e l a t e d to an a b i l i t y to concentrate. Example " I had Manic Depression, and I was on these p i l l s w i t h l o t s of side e f f e c t s that were a r e a l hassle to take. I wouldn't take them so I would get depressed or manic. Then I got on b e t t e r medication. The p i l l s were l e v e l i n g me out b e t t e r , my head was c l e a r e r and I could focus on my schoolwork b e t t e r . " 5 8 Reward (3 I n c i d e n t s ) . This category i n v o l v e s knowing that there i s a p l a n to p a r t i c i p a t e i n something p e r s o n a l l y rewarding at the completion of high school. Having knowledge of a reward on completion, the i n d i v i d u a l was able to f e e l motivated to complete the requirements f o r high school graduation. This category does not include i n c i d e n t s that i n v o l v e d the planning of career or educational goals f o r the f u t u r e , but i n c i d e n t s where a reward was planned or o f f e r e d which was not school r e l a t e d . P a r t i c i p a n t s described f e e l i n g s of being t i r e d of school and wanting to get i t over w i t h . These p a r t i c i p a n t s f e l t that t h e i r plans to go away a f t e r school helped them to get through. Examples "My mom promised me a t r i p when I was s t r u g g l i n g i n school. She s a i d she would buy me a t i c k e t to Martinique. I had been there with school i n Grade 10 and I loved i t . I r e a l l y wanted to go. I t t o t a l l y helped by g i v i n g me i n c e n t i v e to f i n i s h . Okay, i f I can j u s t get that l i t t l e diploma, then I am going to the Caribbean. But she never gave me the t r i p . " " I couldn't take school anymore. I wanted to be f r e e . I made a plan to take a year o f f a f t e r high school. I 59 f e l t I could make i t through because there was a d e f i n i t e amount of time l e f t . There was a d e f i n i t e goal, and then a reward at the end." S e t t i n g goals f o r the future (12 I n c i d e n t s ) . This category i n v o l v e s making career or c o l l e g e r e l a t e d goals f o r a f t e r graduation. I t i s d i s t i n c t from planning a t r i p or other reward such as time o f f . Most o f t e n p a r t i c i p a n t s t a l k e d about working at d i s s a t i s f y i n g minimum wage jobs as the process by which they found out what they d i d not want to do. Several mentioned that making the connection between course work and the p r a c t i c a l world of work was meaningful and motivating. This conceptual connection tended to develop through career e x p l o r a t i o n which was f o r some s e l f - d i r e c t e d and f o r others through guidance. Examples " I l e f t school f o r a while and worked at temporary c l e r i c a l jobs. I had some r e a l l y crappy jobs that I hated f o r minimum wage, doing a l l the grunt work. I t didn't mean anything to me. I t was a good way to r e a l i z e what I didn't want to do. I f e l t pressured and made some d e c i s i o n s to take c o n t r o l of my l i f e . I d i d some research about careers on my own and went back to s c h o o l . " < 60 " I was doing things l i k e aptitude t e s t s , and l o o k i n g at where my i n t e r e s t s were. I was t h i n k i n g about i f I want to go to c o l l e g e , and what I would take. The c o u n s e l l o r was doing career t e s t s , and g i v i n g me in f o r m a t i o n about u n i v e r s i t i e s . I saw that there i s a huge l i f e ahead of me, and I am going to have to buckle down and work. Get through school. And i t became e a s i e r . I was motivated and there was meaning to what I was doing i n s c h o o l . " " I had dropped out because nothing was meaningful and I hated my courses. I didn't get my course choice. The P r i n c i p a l and Counsellor sat me down and t a l k e d to me, t o l d me about the kind of jobs that I might want to get w i t h the i n t e r e s t s I had. They made the connection between school and the r e s t of l i f e . They bridged the gap between what you are suppose to do and why. I r e a l i z e d I needed to go back to high school and complete to go on to the next step. Who would take me s e r i o u s l y without my Grade 12?" Time o f f (4 Incidents) . This category includes opportunity to get away from school i n order to e i t h e r deal with emotional issues or t h i n k 61 about and set plans f o r r e t u r n i n g to complete high school. P a r t i c i p a n t s appreciated the time to be with themselves and get away from the pressure. In each case the p a r t i c i p a n t s reported that the time o f f was b r i e f , planned and pu r p o s e f u l . Examples " I was d e a l i n g with too much s t u f f because of depression, and my grandfather died. I needed to deal w i t h myself and my l i f e outside of school. So I took a week o f f to stay home. I t was me time. I t was p r i c e l e s s having that time o f f . I was able to l e t myself centre and focus because I didn't have e x t e r n a l things p r e s s u r i n g me. When I came back and went to t a l k to the c o u n s e l l o r to set some goals to get through." • "In the summer before I took my l a s t few courses, I took a few t r i p s , got away from everything. I planned my next year and set goals. The time o f f was a b i g breather and I was able to get a l o t more motivated i n school when I came back." Change of environment (5 I n c i d e n t s ) . This category means that p a r t i c i p a n t s experienced a change of place as h e l p f u l i n t h e i r completion of high school. For some i t was a new school, and f o r s e v e r a l i t was 62 a new home environment. For each, however, the change of place i t s e l f was mentioned as a key f a c t o r i n f a c i l i t a t i n g t h e i r completion. P a r t i c i p a n t s mentioned that g e t t i n g away from s t r e s s f u l f a m i l i a l and s o c i a l environments was h e l p f u l . The opportunity to be i n a new environment renewed p a r t i c i p a n t s ' sense of commitment to themselves and t h e i r goals of completing high school. This category does not inc l u d e time away to thi n k or set goals, but i n s t e a d describes the experience of moving to a new home or a new school and continu i n g as the h e l p f u l i n c i d e n t . Examples "I decided to leave home because there were a l o t of problems going on there. I was having mental breakdowns and s k i p p i n g . They were threatening to k i c k me out. So I moved out. The change to a whole new environment helped me. Get t i n g out of that s i t u a t i o n I was i n helped me r e a l i z e I had to f i n i s h school i f I was going to get anywhere, because away from my f a m i l y i t was j u s t me and that was a l l I had to think about." "When I went back, I went to night school. The change of place helped out. I only knew a few people and was more geared towards school. I wasn't there to 63 s o c i a l i z e . I knew what I had to do and I got i t done. I focused on f i n i s h i n g . " Perceived expectation/pressure (8 I n c i d e n t s ) . This category i n v o l v e s the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' perceptions of the expectation of others that they w i l l graduate, and the experience of pressure to do so. I t does not i n c l u d e comments and expressions of encouragement and support, or searching f o r an i d e n t i t y , but rather the a n t i c i p a t i o n of the s o c i a l consequences of f a i l i n g to complete high school. P a r t i c i p a n t s mentioned not wanting to l e t others down, or fe a r of causing hurt to f a m i l y and f r i e n d s those who would want them to graduate. Examples "My mother would ask a l l the time i f I was ever going to graduate because I didn't do any work. I t h i n k I was p u t t i n g her through a l o t of p a i n . I f e l t bad and wanted to graduate f o r her. I didn't want to l e t her down." "I s t a r t e d seeing somebody who was a u n i v e r s i t y student and h i s f a m i l y was very upper c l a s s . They expected me to r e a l l y s t r i v e i n school. I r e a l l y wanted to please them. I t r i e d to s t r i v e i n school f o r them." 64 Autonomy/responsibility (8 I n c i d e n t s ) . This category includes experiences whereby the p a r t i c i p a n t s made a d e c i s i o n to take charge of t h e i r l i f e and a commitment to complete high school f o r themselves. The experience was ofte n described as t a k i n g c o n t r o l or f a c i n g r e s p o n s i b i l i t y , and doing i t f o r the s e l f . These p a r t i c i p a n t s f e l t that the d e c i s i o n to do i t f o r themselves and take r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r the process of f i n i s h i n g high school was a motivat i n g f a c t o r . This category does not inclu d e i n c i d e n t s where the p a r t i c i p a n t made a career or c o l l e g e d e c i s i o n , or set a goal f o r a f t e r completion, but rath e r describes the process of commitment to the task of completion and absorption i n the task. Examples " I b a s i c a l l y took charge of the whole process and put my whole s e l f i n i t . I had always done things f o r other people, but I d i d t h i s f o r me f o r the f i r s t time. For me, and f o r nobody e l s e . I t helped me get my m o t i v a t i o n back. I wrote about the whole experience on my E n g l i s h p r o v i n c i a l exams at the end, and I got an "A". "When I was younger, I d i d r e a l l y w e l l , but I was doing i t to impress my parents and teachers. I was the c l a s s b r a i n , and then I s t a r t e d to f a i l on purpose because I 65 was s i c k of the other kids h a t i n g me. A f t e r I dropped out, and then went back f o r myself, I worked r e a l l y hard because I was doing i t f o r me. I was i n t e r e s t e d i n the subject. My grades went up. I t had a m o t i v a t i n g e f f e c t on me." " I made a commitment when I returned to school to do i t f o r myself. I had a b l i n d d r i v e to do i t because i t was going to get me out of doing drugs and going nowhere. I never had to force i t . I d i d r e a l l y w e l l . I t was an i d e n t i t y that I had never r e a l l y experienced. I t was i n t e l l e c t u a l l y e x c i t i n g . " Lessened workload (8 I n c i d e n t s ) . This category means that p a r t i c i p a n t s lessened the load of schoolwork e i t h e r by s e l e c t i n g to take l e s s or e a s i e r courses, attending fewer c l a s s e s , or changing t h e i r pace of working on assignments. Often the d e c i s i o n came a f t e r speaking to a c o u n s e l l o r and r e a l i z i n g that options were a v a i l a b l e to them. This category does not i n c l u d e i n c i d e n t s of changing place, g e t t i n g help with homework or g e t t i n g p r a c t i c a l help g e t t i n g to c l a s s i n the morning. Instead the focus i s on changing to l e s s , e a s i e r , or s e l f - d i r e c t e d schoolwork, s p e c i f i c a l l y . Semester programs, s w i t c h i n g to courses w i t h a p r a c t i c a l focus, dropping courses that were not necessary f o r graduation, and attending a s e l f - d i r e c t e d program were a l l mentioned. Examples "The c o u n s e l l o r helped me focus my e f f o r t s on j u s t the courses I needed to graduate. I cut my l o s s e s . I was able to make i t through with the minimum requirements, and graduate on schedule despite the time I missed." "When I was depressed, I wasn't doing much. Then I gave myself permission to do things my way, at my own pace, to do only whatever I could do. I t was a reduced s c a l e of work. That was good enough. I t broke the work down to.more d i g e s t i b l e pieces, something I could handle, a b i t at a time. With lower standards, you can get things done, achieve, and i t f u e l s you to do some more." "When I went back to f i n i s h , I took a night school E n g l i s h . I t was business E n g l i s h , which was e a s i e r , and had l e s s work than the one I took before. I t wasn't that I couldn't handle the load. I j u s t d i d n't want to do a l l the work to get the c r e d i t . I t was a l s o more p r a c t i c a l . I got the f i n a l c r e d i t I needed to graduate w i t h a f a i r l y decent mark." 67 P r a c t i c a l help g e t t i n g to school ( 4 I n c i d e n t s ) . In t h i s category, p r a c t i c a l and concrete a c t i o n s were taken to help p a r t i c i p a n t s make i t to c l a s s . D i f f i c u l t i e s g e t t i n g up i n the morning, or d i f f i c u l t i e s g e t t i n g to school due to emotions were mentioned as ob s t a c l e s . Having someone c a l l i n the morning, or d r i v e the p a r t i c i p a n t to school were i d e n t i f i e d as h e l p i n g to keep p a r t i c i p a n t s attendance up. Examples "When I went back to school I was s t i l l s t r e s s e d and unhappy. I would walk h a l f way to school and go home. My mom s t a r t e d d r i v i n g me. I made i t to c l a s s e s more because she took me there." " I missed a l o t of cla s s e s before I dropped out. When I went back to f i n i s h , I went to night school. I t was e a s i e r to make i t to c l a s s because I am not a morning person. I made i t to every c l a s s . I t h i n k I missed one c l a s s the whole time." Recognition (8 I n c i d e n t s ) . This category involves being recognized by a f i g u r e of a u t h o r i t y f o r an accomplishment, achievement or s k i l l . P a r t i c i p a n t s mentioned that being acknowledged and v a l i d a t e d 68 by a s i g n i f i c a n t f i g u r e i n the school system helped them f e e l good about themselves and subsequently, they worked harder. The category excludes experiences of personal engagement i n an e x t r a - c u r r i c u l a r a c t i v i t y and i n s t e a d the u n i f y i n g v a r i a b l e i s r e c e i v i n g acknowledgement from another person. I t a l s o excludes i n c i d e n t s where being respected and t r e a t e d l i k e an adult was the focus, although there i s some overlap i n terms of the outcome of f e e l i n g valued. Examples "My graphic a r t s teacher p r a i s e d me f o r my work and gave me e x t r a assignments to do outside c l a s s . He wanted me to use my design s k i l l s to design a s h i r t f o r one of the school clubs. I f e l t I was good at something and i t made me decide to stay i n and f i n i s h . " "When I went back, there was t h i s E n g l i s h teacher who was very n i c e . She made p r a i s i n g comments about things I had done i n c l a s s , about my poetry. I then t a l k e d to her a f t e r c l a s s f o r two hours. I f e l t v a l i d a t e d by somebody i n a r e l a t i o n s h i p . I t made me t r y harder." 69 P a r t i c i p a t i o n i n the a r t s and sports (14 I n c i d e n t s ) . This category includes being i n v o l v e d i n an a c t i v i t y that the p a r t i c i p a n t found p e r s o n a l l y engaging. Most of the a c t i v i t i e s were i n the area of the a r t s , however sports were a l s o mentioned. The opportunity to apply oneself, to explore and enjoy something i n school l e d to f e e l i n g s of c o n t r o l , self-esteem, and connection to the school. Many p a r t i c i p a n t s mentioned that at the height of t h e i r s t r u g g l e s to make i t to school, they remained h e a v i l y i n v o l v e d i n these a r t s and sport a c t i v i t i e s . Going to a c l a s s that was experienced as meaningless or d i f f i c u l t was aided by the f a c t that p a r t i c i p a n t s knew they would l a t e r be able to attend the a c t i v i t y or course they loved. Examples " I was i n thea t r e . Even when I was b a r e l y going to school, they s t i l l l e t me to school p l a y s . I was very i n v o l v e d i n theatre i n high school. That kept me i n school at l e a s t , you know? L i k e , w i t h i n the boundaries of the school grounds. And I knew, i f I was going to go fo r t h a t, I would go a l i t t l e e a r l i e r and t a l k to the c o u n s e l l o r . Or I would f e e l a l i t t l e g u i l t y and make more of an e f f o r t to go to c l a s s the next day. I t was an u m b i l i c a l chord. I f e l t l i k e , at l e a s t I was doing something." 70 " A f t e r I went back to school, I took A r t c l a s s . I t h i n k t h i s was a major f a c t o r . And I took photography, and psychology. I t was so i n t e r e s t i n g . I a p p l i e d myself and d i d r e a l l y w e l l . I found the a r t s so p e r s o n a l l y engaging." " I took a broadcasting course j u s t f o r fun. Being i n that c l a s s was good f o r me because i t made me enjoy school. I f I was going to come to school f o r that c l a s s , I f i g u r e d I might as w e l l stay f o r E n g l i s h c l a s s too. So that made me go to c l a s s e s . " " I was doing theatre i n school since 9 t h Grade. I wanted to get out to do theatre at c o l l e g e . So I didn't miss a c t i n g c l a s s , I got an A. I had an area of school I could r e l a t e t o . I t gave me s e l f - c o n f i d e n c e that there was something I was good at i n school. And I maintained a c e r t a i n l e v e l of connection with the school environment. I t was a l i f e support system that kept me i n tune with the academic world. I f i t wasn't f o r that c l a s s , I would not have gone to school at a l l . " 71 " I was f a i l i n g a few courses because I was depressed and st r e s s e d out. I f e l t out of c o n t r o l of my l i f e . The only one I showed up to on a regular b a s i s was graphic design. I was r e a l l y i n t o i t and that c l a s s was my s a l v a t i o n . I even went i n to do ex t r a time i n graphics. I t gave me a sense of c o n t r o l , s e l f -esteem. That helped make me decide to stay i n sch o o l . " I d e n t i t y development through s o c i a l comparison (16 I n c i d e n t s ) . This category includes i n c i d e n t s of p a r t i c i p a n t s e x p l o r i n g who they are, and who they want to be i n the world by making s o c i a l comparisons. Some p a r t i c i p a n t s looked around at f r i e n d s who were achieving and decided that they too wanted to achieve. Others compared themselves to people who had dropped out and d i d not want to be i d e n t i f i e d ' w i t h those people. In most cases, both comparison and t h i n k i n g about i d e n t i t y were i n v o l v e d i n the a c t i o n that tended to lead to a commitment to complete high school. In general, i t was an i n t e r n a l , thought-based process, however one p a r t i c i p a n t d i d research on the jobs and l i v e s of dropouts i n a broadcasting course and then began to explore her own i d e n t i t y before d e c i d i n g to stay i n school. This category does not incl u d e the process of s e t t i n g goals f o r a future career, although that may have been the outcome f o r some of the mentioned i n c i d e n t s . Examples "A l o t of my f r i e n d s s t a r t e d going to c o l l e g e and u n i v e r s i t y and I thought, w e l l , i f they can do i t , I can do i t too. Anyway, they weren't there to hang around and go smoke c i g a r e t t e s with anymore. I set a goal to f i n i s h because my f r i e n d s were f i n i s h i n g . " " I t helped that while I was away and not i n school, a l l my f r i e n d s graduated. I looked at them and I f i g u r e d I was a b i t smarter than them, so i f they could do i t I could. I set a goal to graduate and go on to do something e l s e . " " I saw a few people I went to high school w i t h who were working at a convenience s t o r e . I thought about i t and i t scared me. I wanted something more than t h a t . I j u s t had to f i n d out what i t was. I decided I was not going to go that route. I s t a r t e d t h i n k i n g about what I was going to do with myself, and my l i f e and knew I had to f i n i s h high school f i r s t . " 73 " I looked at my f r i e n d who won a b i g s c h o l a r s h i p and I was disappointed, t h i n k i n g i t should have been me. I wanted to prove to everybody that I could f i n i s h . I knew I could do b e t t e r than them, so I t r i e d once again to get the grades and graduate, even i f i t took me a l i t t l e longer than them." " I had l e f t high school seeking freedom. But I looked around at what my f r i e n d s were doing who dropped out and didn't l i k e what I saw. Some were d e a l i n g drugs. Some were c r i m i n a l s . There was so much darkness i n t h a t . You are hated by almost everybody. That i s not freedom. I didn't want to be a drug dealer, a c r i m i n a l . I knew I was a smart k i d and I could do something b e t t e r . I r e a l i z e d the only way to f i n d freedom was to f i n d i t w i t h i n s o c i e t y . I r e a l i z e d I had to go back and deal w i t h s c h o o l . " F i c t i o n a l r o l e models (3 I n c i d e n t s ) . Included i n t h i s category are i n c i d e n t s of i d e n t i f i c a t i o n with a f i c t i o n a l character who e i t h e r d i d not f i t i n and yet c o n t r i b u t e d g r e a t l y to s o c i e t y , or modeled a success s t o r y of pushing through a d v e r s i t y . In each case, the i n c i d e n t l e d to a renewed hope, and a b e l i e f i n the s e l f . 74 Although the i n c i d e n t s i n v o l v e d comparison and i d e n t i f i c a t i o n , the i d e n t i f i c a t i o n was with a f i c t i o n a l c haracter and t h e r e f o r i n c i d e n t s of s o c i a l comparison are excluded from t h i s category. Examples " I read about a r t h i s t o r y and the d i f f e r e n t a r t i s t s . They were a l l a l i t t l e weird, the s u c c e s s f u l ones. Yet they had an impact on h i s t o r y . They were good examples f o r me of how to be d i f f e r e n t and succeed. I r e a l i z e d that there must be something to me i f I am so misunderstood at school. I f e l t that maybe I can be something great i f I get through high school and move on. I a p p l i e d myself and got some good marks." " I was watching movie characters push through a d v e r s i t y and persevere, l i k e Rocky. Just watching people s u f f e r i n g , and succeeding. I t c e r t a i n l y helped because i f they could do i t so could I. S u f f e r i n g wasn't so bad. I s t a r t e d to b e l i e v e that i f they could go through such hard times and sur v i v e , I could squeeze past the f i n i s h l i n e f o r graduation." 75 V a l i d a t i o n of the Categories In developing a scheme of categories i t i s important to determine i f the category scheme developed can be used w i t h confidence. Are the categories sound and trustworthy? The v a l i d i t y of the categories concerns whether the c a t e g o r i e s are sound and w e l l founded. As o u t l i n e d by McCormick (1995), i t i s not p o s s i b l e to a t t a i n absolute c e r t a i n t y as to the soundness and t r u s t w o r t h i n e s s of any category scheme, however i t i s necessary to ensure that the category scheme i s reasonably c e r t a i n i f i t w i l l be used i n p r a c t i c e . Several measures have been taken i n t h i s study to assure the usefulness of an acceptable l e v e l of t r u s t w o r t h i n e s s and soundness of the emergent c a t e g o r i e s . R e l i a b i l i t y of C a t e g o r i z i n g Incidents R e l i a b i l i t y i s a good i n d i c a t i o n of t r u s t w o r t h i n e s s . Andersson and N i l s s o n (1964) suggested that r e l i a b i l i t y i n a C r i t i c a l Incident study can be determined by degree of agreement of independent judges using the category scheme. Degree of agreement i s c a l c u l a t e d s t a t i s t i c a l l y by percentage. Flanagan (1954) suggested that a category scheme should a t t a i n a score exceeding 75% agreement. In t h i s study a sample of 25 i n c i d e n t s was used. 76 The two independent judges who p a r t i c i p a t e d i n t h i s procedure were Master's students i n the Department of Co u n s e l l i n g Psychology at the U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia. The judges were given a b r i e f d e s c r i p t i o n of the ca t e g o r i e s by the researcher and asked to place the sample of 25 i n c i d e n t s i n the ca t e g o r i e s . The judges were asked to place the i n c i d e n t s i n categories they f e l t were most appropriate. Both judges took approximately 30 minutes to place the i n c i d e n t s . Table 1 represents the percentage of agreement between the researcher's and the judges' placement of the i n c i d e n t s i n the category scheme. To make best use of the r e s u l t s , the researcher interviewed both judges to determine i f the reasons f o r any disagreement warranted'changes i n the category schemes. 7An examination of the i n c o r r e c t l y placed i n c i d e n t s revealed that the judges e i t h e r misread or focused on one t r i g g e r word, without l o o k i n g at the whole i n c i d e n t . This i n c o n s i s t e n c y can be a t t r i b u t e d to haste and as such does not warrant changes to the category scheme. The high percentage of a agreement obtained by the independent judges means that other people can use the categ o r i e s to categ o r i z e i n c i d e n t s i n a c o n s i s t e n t and r e l i a b l e way. 77 Table 1 R e l i a b i l i t y of Category Schemes Judges Percentage agreement Judge #1 96% Judge #2 92 Q. O Average i n t e r - r a t e r r e l i a b i l i t y 94 Comprehensiveness of Categories 7An important way to determine the soundness of a category scheme i s to determine whether i t i s reasonably complete or comprehensive (Andersson & N i l s s o n , 1964). One t e s t used to check f o r comprehensiveness or completeness i n t h i s study i n v o l v e d the procedure of wit h h o l d i n g 14 i n c i d e n t s (approximately 10%) u n t i l the categories had been formed. Once the categories were formed, the withheld i n c i d e n t s were brought back and c l a s s i f i e d . A l l i n c i d e n t s were e a s i l y placed w i t h i n the c a t e g o r i e s . I f the i n c i d e n t s were d i f f i c u l t to place, i t would have been necessary to form new cate g o r i e s u n t i l a l l of the withheld i n c i d e n t s had been placed. I t i s therefore reasonable to say that the ca t e g o r i e s are p r o v i s i o n a l l y comprehensive. I t i s necessary 7 8 to make t h i s c l a i m because there i s always the p o s s i b i l i t y that a new category might be discovered. P a r t i c i p a t i o n Rate f o r the Categories .Examining the l e v e l of agreement among the p a r t i c i p a n t s i n the study r e p o r t i n g the same t h i n g i s another method to determine i f a category i s sound and w e l l founded. In forming a category, the researcher must ensure the i d e n t i f i c a t i o n of a s i g n i f i c a n t s i m i l a r i t y among a group of i n c i d e n t s reported by d i f f e r e n t people. P a r t i c i p a n t s independently report the same kind of event. I f only one person or a few persons report a category of event, i t might be dismissed. For example, one person might d i s t o r t or f a b r i c a t e an event. When many people report the same ki n d of event, such p o s s i b i l i t i e s as d i s t o r t i o n begin to lo s e f o r c e . Agreement among observers i s an important t e s t of soundness. Agreement i s gauged by the p a r t i c i p a t i o n r a t e f o r each category (the number of p a r t i c i p a n t s r e p o r t i n g a category d i v i d e d by the t o t a l number of p a r t i c i p a n t s ; see Table 2). The c a t e g o r i e s with the highest p a r t i c i p a t i o n r a t e are thus those w i t h the highest l e v e l of agreement. The p a r t i c i p a t i o n r a t e s ranged from a .low of 12% (Medication) to a high of 75% (Emotional Support and Guidance). Other categories w i t h a p a r t i c i p a t i o n r a t e of 50% or higher are: S e t t i n g Goals f o r 79 the Future, Autonomy/Responsibility, and P a r t i c i p a t i o n i n A r t s and Sports. The categories of Medication, Reward, and F i c t i o n a l Role Models had a r e l a t i v e l y low p a r t i c i p a t i o n r a t e , however the categories are not n e c e s s a r i l y i l l founded. On re-examination i t was determined that the c a t e g o r i e s should be preserved because of the v i v i d n e s s and c l a r i t y of the events contained i n the category and t h e i r s i m i l a r i t y . The i n c i d e n t s and t h e i r categories were s u f f i c i e n t l y c l e a r and d i s t i n c t to remain i n t a c t . 80 Table 2 P a r t i c i p a t i o n Rates and Summary of Expert Commentary a o Category P a r t i c . Expert Commentary Emotional Support/Guidance Respect from Teachers P a r t i c i p a t e / G e t Help Medication Reward S e t t i n g Goals f o r the Future Time Off Change of Environment Perceived Expectation/Pressure Autonomy/Responsibility Lessened Workload P r a c t i c a l Help Ge t t i n g to School Recognition 75% u s e f u l 31% idea of f a i r n e s s 38% doesn't lead to Counsel.practice, seems s e l f - e v i d e n t 12% suggests u t i l i t y of m u l t i - d i s c , teams, communication wi t h community s e r v i c e s 19% question of behavior Theory - i n t e r m i t t e n t reinforcement vs. p e r s o n a l l y r e l e v a n t rewards 50% u s e f u l 25% i n t u i t i v e sense 31% u s e f u l 44% concept of challenge 50% u s e f u l 44% u s e f u l i n p r a c t i c e 25% a l t e r n a t i v e s & f l e x scheduling 31% useful,, i n t u i t i v e sense P a r t i c i p a t i o n i n Art s / S p o r t s 56% u s e f u l 8 1 Table 2 continued P a r t i c i p a t i o n Rates and Summary of Expert Commentary a o Category P a r t i c . Expert Commentary I d e n t i t y Devel./Soc. Comparis. 38% i n t e r e s t i n g F i c t i o n a l Role Models 19% s u r p r i s i n g that r o l e models d i d not f i g u r e more prominently 82 Expert Commentary /Another t e s t of.the soundness of c a t e g o r i e s , which was used i n t h i s study, was expert v a l i d a t i o n . This a n a l y s i s puts research i n t o the context of the f i e l d by c o n s u l t i n g w i t h experts to determine i f the categories are v a l i d and u s e f u l f o r p r a c t i c e . Experts are asked to b r i n g t h e i r r e l e v a n t experience to bear (Cronbach, 1971) by e x p l a i n i n g whether the f i n d i n g s of a p a r t i c u l a r study are c o n s i s t e n t w i t h what they have found from t h e i r p r o f e s s i o n a l experiences. Expert v a l i d a t i o n i s an important t e s t of soundness since experts have witnessed events that the average person might not have experience w i t h . They can provide c o l l a b o r a t i v e evidence and content v a l i d i t y to the r e s u l t s of an i n v e s t i g a t i o n . In t h i s study the researcher asked two pr o f e s s o r s i n C o u n s e l l i n g Psychology who are considered experts i n f a c i l i t a t i n g completion of high school f o r students w i t h d i f f i c u l t i e s . Both are also experienced at t r a i n i n g high school c o u n s e l l o r s to work with students who may be at r i s k of e a r l y leave. Both possess d o c t o r a l degrees i n C o u n s e l l i n g Psychology. The researcher conducted an i n t e r v i e w w i t h each of the two experts separately a f t e r d e s c r i b i n g each of the ca t e g o r i e s , asking them to go through the cat e g o r i e s to assess t h e i r usefulness. The i n s t r u c t i o n s were simply to 83 consider the categories and comment on t h e i r u t i l i t y to p r a c t i c e . The r e s u l t s of the interviews with the experts confirmed that o v e r a l l , the 16 categories i n the scheme are p o t e n t i a l l y u s e f u l and v a l i d with regards to the p r a c t i c e of c o u n s e l l i n g . Comments made by the experts u t i l i z e d i n the study confirmed that most of the categories are important, and l i k e l y to be u s e f u l i n f a c i l i t a t i n g graduation f o r students who experience the r i s k of e a r l y leave from high school. Most of the categories had been used at one time or another by them to f a c i l i t a t e completion, or by a student they had worked w i t h who str u g g l e d to complete high school before graduating. More s p e c i f i c a l l y , one expert was s u r p r i s e d at the category p r a c t i c a l help g e t t i n g to school, but f e l t i t was v a l i d and u s e f u l information f o r educators, p a r t i c u l a r l y w i t h regard to f l e x i b l e scheduling and a l t e r n a t i v e programs. The category d e s c r i b i n g opportunity to p a r t i c i p a t e and get help seemed s e l f evident, and l e s s r e l e v a n t to the p r a c t i c e of c o u n s e l l i n g than the other c a t e g o r i e s . With regard to respect from teachers, one expert f e l t that i t was common f o r students to emphasize t h e i r d e s i r e to be t r e a t e d f a i r l y . The category medication r a i s e d the issue of the need f o r m u l t i d i s c i p l i n a r y teams, i n c l u d i n g medical personnel and communication between p r o f e s s i o n a l s working w i t h students. The a n a l y s i s of these experts adds f u r t h e r strength to the soundness or v a l i d i t y of the categories and the category scheme. Support of Related L i t e r a t u r e Another method used to check f o r the soundness of the c a t e g o r i e s i s agreement with previous research. I f a category disagreed with previous research, there would be good reason to question i t s v a l i d i t y . I t could not be a u t o m a t i c a l l y dismissed, but i t would be more questionable because i n comparison to p r i o r evidence from other s t u d i e s , i t was c o n t r a d i c t o r y . High agreement with a category of event w i t h previous research i n d i c a t e s confidence i n the soundness of the category. I f a category i s novel, n e i t h e r confirming nor d i s c o n f i r m i n g previous research, i t stands alone as a p o s s i b i l i t y to be confirmed or disconfirmed by f u t u r e research. To assess agreement, the categories formed were compared with previous research. In t h i s a n a l y s i s , 8 o 16 c a t e g o r i e s agreed with previous research. This f i n d i n g increases the confidence that the categories are w e l l founded. As no mention could be found f o r the remaining 8 novel c a t e g o r i e s , they stand alone as a p o s s i b i l i t y to be confirmed or not by future research. Reference to r e l e v a n t 85 research f o r the eight supported categories are as f o l l o w s (See Table 3). The eight novel categories w i l l be discussed i n the chapter that f o l l o w s with regard to broader theory. 86 Table 3 Summary of Support of Related L i t e r a t u r e Category L i t e r a t u r e Support Emotional Support Or Guidance Respect from Teacher Opportunity to P a r t i c , or Get Help Medication Reward S e t t i n g Future Goals- Time Off Change of Environment Perceived Expectation Pressure A f f e c t component necessary must support & encourage E f f e c t i v e schools t r e a t everyone equal, respect keeps them i n school Remedial i n s t r u c ' n , t u t o r i n g , & e x p e r i e n t i a l l e a r n i n g enviro's f a c i l i t . s t a y i n g i n school New subject, no previous research Can motivate, must be p e r s o n a l l y rel e v a n t and lead to f e e l i n g of autonomy/control - can a l s o "over- j u s t i f y " behaviour and b a c k f i r e C o u n s e l l i n g f o r academic & career choice works, v o c a t i o n a l programs i n v i g o r a t e i n t e r e s t i n acad. subject New subject, no previous research New subject, no research New subject, no research Autonomy/Responsibility M o t i v a t i n g , leads to i d e n t i t y & . competence Lessened Workload P r a c t i c a l Help G e t t i n g To school Not discussed i n the l i t e r a t u r e Not discussed Recognition E x t e r n a l v a l i d a t i o n f o r s e l f - w o r t h i s m o t i v a t i n g . G i f t e d underachievers tend to be p e r f e c t i o n i s t & need more r e c o g n i t i o n 87 Table 3 continued Summary of Support of Related L i t e r a t u r e Category L i t e r a t u r e Support P a r t i c i p ' n i n A r t s & Enhanced r e t e n t i o n , b u i l d s i n t e r e s t Sports i n school and enhances sense of s e l f I d e n t i t y Development New idea, not researched Thru Soc. Compar. F i c t i o n a l Role Models New idea ( f i c t i o n a l ) - no research 88 Emotional Support and Guidance Researchers have pointed out a strong a f f e c t i v e component to dropping out (Bearden, Spencer, & Moracco, 1991). I t has been observed that dropout prevention programs do not produce e f f e c t i v e and l a s t i n g r e s u l t s when there i s i n s u f f i c i e n t a t t e n t i o n to the a f f e c t i v e domain of student experiences (Morris, Pawlovich, & McCall, 1991; PIOR 1990; Quiroutte, Saint-Denis, & Hout, 1990, Rumberger, 1987). E f f e c t i v e schools include programs that support and encourage students at r i s k . Although programs vary, they are designed to motivate students, to encourage p o s i t i v e s o c i a l behavior and f a c i l i t a t e a sense of belonging, and such programs are considered c r i t i c a l f o r success (Gaskell, 1995). I t has been confirmed that i n d i v i d u a l a t t e n t i o n such as support and guidance needs to be p a i d to students as i t has an important i n f l u e n c e on s t a y i n g i n school (Roderick, 1993; S u l l i v a n ,1988). This category appears to be w e l l supported i n the l i t e r a t u r e . Respect from Teachers I t i s w e l l known that classroom teachers have a d i r e c t i n f l u e n c e on students' performance ( O l i v e r , 1995). When students who l e f t high school before graduating were surveyed and asked to suggest ways i n which schools could help keep 89 students i n school, many suggested that teachers should t a l k to students, be more understanding and show more respect. Having a problem with f a c u l t y was a f a c t o r h i g h l y endorsed as t h e i r o r i g i n a l reason f o r l e a v i n g (Bearden, Spencer, & Moracco, 1991). In a recent study of e f f e c t i v e schools across Canada, G a s k e l l (1995) found that teachers who are able to r e l a t e to students, and schools w i t h an environment where everyone was t r e a t e d e q u a l l y , were considered c r u c i a l f a c t o r s . This category appears to be sound and well-founded according to r e l a t e d l i t e r a t u r e . Reward I t i s g e n e r a l l y accepted that, according to behavioural p r i n c i p l e s , g i v i n g rewards increases m o t i v a t i o n f o r and engagement i n an a c t i v i t y . I n t e r m i t t e n t rewards that are p e r s o n a l l y r e l e v a n t are considered to have m o t i v a t i o n a l i n f l u e n c e . Some research has i n d i c a t e d that f o r c h i l d r e n and c o l l e g e students concrete, e x t e r n a l rewards f o r performance can have an undermining e f f e c t on subsequent i n t e r e s t i n the task (de Charms & Muir, 1978; Lepper & Green, 1976) . The argument i s that a concrete reward might lead to a student f e e l i n g overcompensated f o r working towards a goal, which undermines t h e i r i n t r i n s i c m o tivation the next time they engage i n the task. The student f e e l s that since they have 90 been rewarded f o r the task, i t must not be something they would have done without the reward, and m o t i v a t i o n i s reduced i n the f u t u r e . Based on b a s i c behavioural p r i n c i p l e s , t h i s category appears to be sound with regards to f a c i l i t a t i n g the aim of completion of high school i n that a concrete, p e r s o n a l l y r e l e v a n t reward was r e l a t e d to m o t i v a t i o n towards task completion. However, caution should be e x e r c i s e d i n c o n s i d e r i n g t h i s category i n future p r a c t i c e , since the l i t e r a t u r e seems to suggest that future m o t i v a t i o n f o r academic performance or completion might be undermined w i t h the use of such e x t e r n a l and concrete rewards. ( A l t e r n a t i v e l y , r e c o g n i t i o n and p r a i s e f o r task completion are not considered to be a concrete reward and as such can be a m o t i v a t o r ) . Opportunity to P a r t i c i p a t e and Get Help Remediation w i t h i n d i v i d u a l i z e d i n s t r u c t i o n , such as t u t o r i n g , and mentoring, have been mentioned by researchers and students i n the l i t e r a t u r e as u s e f u l and e f f e c t i v e i n promoting the completion of high school (Gaskel, 1995; M o r r i s , Pawlovich, & McCall, 1991; T i d w e l l , 1988) . A growing body of evidence i n d i c a t e s that e x p e r i e n t i a l l e a r n i n g a c t i v i t i e s are more e f f e c t i v e than t r a d i t i o n a l methods i n producing a wide range of d e s i r a b l e student outcomes, 91 i n c l u d i n g r e t e n t i o n (Butchart, 1986; C r i s t , 1991; Hartshorn, & Nelson, 1990). There appears to be adequate support i n the l i t e r a t u r e to assume the soundness of t h i s category. S e t t i n g Goals f o r the Future • M o r r i s , Pawlovich, and McCall (1991), reported that one e f f e c t i v e s t r a t e g y f o r keeping students i n school i s c o u n s e l l i n g s e r v i c e s to provide d i r e c t i o n f o r academic and career choices. Also suggested was pre-employment awareness t r a i n i n g . G a s k e l l (1995) also found that many exemplary schools use work experience and v o c a t i o n a l programs to motivate students, to teach r e s p o n s i b i l i t y to s o c i e t y , to o r i e n t students to the world of work, and as w e l l to i n v i g o r a t e i n t e r e s t i n t r a d i t i o n a l s u b j e c t s . P a r t i c u l a r l y i n programs f o r t a l e n t e d and a t - r i s k students, i t was considered important f o r c u r r i c u l u m to make the connection to the labour market. Autonomy/Responsibility C o r s i n i and P a i n t e r (1975) argue that teaching youth r e s p o n s i b i l i t y leads to p o s i t i v e development of i d e n t i t y . I t has been suggested that motivating youth a t - r i s k of dropping out does r e q u i r e c u l t i v a t i n g a sense of r e s p o n s i b i l i t y , autonomy and competence (Campbell & Myrick, 1990; Frymier, 92 1992; V a l l e r a n d , F o r t i e r , & Guay, 1997). This category i s supported by e x i s t i n g l i t e r a t u r e . Recognition Youth o f t e n depend on e x t e r n a l sources of v a l i d a t i o n such as peers, teachers, and parents f o r t h e i r sense of s e l f - worth (Ishuyama, 1989). In terms of behavioural p r i n c i p l e s , p r a i s e and r e c o g n i t i o n can be e f f e c t i v e motivators w i t h students. Recognition and p r a i s e allow them to f e e l i n c o n t r o l and b e l i e v e i n t h e i r own i n t e r n a l m o t i v a t i o n towards a task (Ross, 1975). Since some underachievers, p a r t i c u l a r l y g i f t e d underachievers, tend to be more s e l f - c r i t i c a l and p e r f e c t i o n i s t i c , they possess poor s e l f - c o n c e p t s . I t i s t h e r e f o r e important f o r teachers to develop the underachieving student's sense of s e l f - w o r t h (Borthwick, Dow, Levesque, & Banks, 1980). Recognition appears to be an important category, i n d i c a t i n g the s i g n i f i c a n c e of r e i n f o r c i n g achieving behaviours. P a r t i c i p a t i o n i n the A r t s and Sports Recent f i n d i n g s of a large study i n d i c a t e d that p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n e x t r a c u r r i c u l a r a c t i v i t i e s such as a t h l e t i c s and f i n e a r t s s i g n i f i c a n t l y reduced a student's l i k e l i h o o d of dropping out, whereas p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n academic or v o c a t i o n a l 93 clubs had no e f f e c t (McNeal, 1995). O l i v e r (1995) a l s o found that enhanced r e t e n t i o n was f a c i l i t a t e d by p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n e x t r a - c u r r i c u l a r a c t i v i t i e s , teachers' p r o j e c t s and s p o r t s . P a r t i c i p a t i o n was shown to b u i l d students' i n t e r e s t i n school, and enhance t h e i r sense of s e l f . Summary of Supported Categories Based on the r e s u l t s of t h i s a n a l y s i s an e f f e c t i v e high school completion program f o r students who experience the r i s k of dropping out should consider the cate g o r i e s that were developed i n t h i s study. They are: emotional support and guidance, respect from teachers, opportunity to p a r t i c i p a t e and get help, goals s e t t i n g f o r the future, encouragement of autonomy and r e s p o n s i b i l i t y , r e c o g n i t i o n , p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n the a r t s or sport, and an aspect of reward such as p r a i s e . What remains to be confirmed are the novel c a t e g o r i e s that emerged i n the study. They include time o f f , medication, change of environment, expectation or pressure to graduate, lessened workloads, p r a c t i c a l help g e t t i n g to school, i d e n t i t y development through s o c i a l comparison, and the use of f i c t i o n a l r o l e models. 9 4 Relevant Anecdotal Information Anecdotal information emerged that the researcher considered important to include i n the r e s u l t s . Although t h i s data was not part of the c r i t i c a l events i n i t i a l l y sought, there was some consistency i n terms of p a r t i c i p a n t s r e p o r t i n g these v a r i a b l e s and thus they are i n c l u d e d here. The anecdotal information i s presented here as an i l l u s t r a t i o n and no attempt was made to examine the t r a n s c r i p t s to see i f the suggestions overlapped w i t h a c t i o n s taken towards the aim of completion, by the p a r t i c u l a r p a r t i c i p a n t making the suggestion. V a l i d i t y and r e l i a b i l i t y t e s t s were not conducted on t h i s anecdotal i n f o r m a t i o n . Emotional problems were mentioned by 14 of the 16 p a r t i c i p a n t s as strong c o n t r i b u t i n g f a c t o r s l e a d i n g to d i f f i c u l t i e s i n school. The two i n d i v i d u a l s whom d i d not report problem's w i t h mood, reported s i g n i f i c a n t s t r e s s r e l a t e d peer groups and f a m i l y problems. Many spoke of depression and g r i e f , and the subsequent l a c k of meaning and d i f f i c u l t y ' c o n c e n t r a t i n g on s c h o o l - r e l a t e d goals which l e d to sk i p p i n g or f a i l u r e . P a r t i c i p a n t s mentioned e i t h e r having been high achievers before encountering d i f f i c u l t i e s with high school, or spoke of high achievement i n post-secondary studies a f t e r 95 completion. Almost a l l of the p a r t i c i p a n t s mentioned f e e l i n g that they d i d not belong or f i t i n . Of the 9 who mentioned doing w e l l i n high school, 5 reported making i n t e n t i o n a l attempts to f a i l . These attempts to f a i l were r e l a t e d to wanting e i t h e r a t t e n t i o n from teachers, or f o r the purpose of belonging with a s o c i a l group who were not high a c h i e v i n g . Most of the p a r t i c i p a n t s had, since completion, e i t h e r attended post-secondary, or a v o c a t i o n a l p r e p a r a t i o n program. Several p a r t i c i p a n t s mentioned e i t h e r working i n a r t i s t i c f i e l d s , or having goals to do so. Of the 16 p a r t i c i p a n t s , 12 mentioned a personal i n t e r e s t , and r e g u l a r l y p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n c r e a t i v e a c t i v i t i e s i n c l u d i n g t h e a t r e , music, v i s u a l a r t and w r i t i n g . When asked about current career and c o l l e g e f o c i , 9 of the 16 p a r t i c i p a n t s mentioned c r e a t i v e areas, i n c l u d i n g i n t e r i o r design, and a c t i n g , f o r example. Several remarks emerged as suggestions made by interviewees f o r f a c i l i t a t i n g completion of high school. These h e l p i n g suggestions were condensed i n t o thematic ca t e g o r i e s f o r c l a r i t y , i n c l u d i n g some examples, and presented here as anecdotal information. Some overlap to the category system of c r i t i c a l i n c i d e n t s i s evident. 96 Suggestion: S e t t i n g goals f o r the fu t u r e . Several p a r t i c i p a n t s suggested that students have an opportunity to explore t h e i r careers and set goals. The f o l l o w i n g example i l l u s t r a t e s the suggestions i n c l u d e d i n t h i s theme, which overlaps with the category system already formed and analyzed. Example "People need to have goals of where they are going to go next when they get out of high school. Without a sense of d i r e c t i o n , we don't have a moti v a t i o n f o r the process." Suggestion: Lessened workload. Several p a r t i c i p a n t s suggested that students should cut back on t h e i r courses and expectations f o r themselves and l e a r n to have fun. Suggestion: P a r t i c i p a t i o n i n the a r t s and s p o r t s . Several p a r t i c i p a n t s i n d i c a t e d that involvement i n e x t r a - c u r r i c u l a r , p a r t i c u l a r l y c r e a t i v e a c t i v i t i e s would f a c i l i t a t e completion. The f o l l o w i n g example a r t i c u l a t e s the suggestion, which overlaps with the category of the same name. 97 Example " I t h i n k kids need an opportunity to get acknowledged f o r what t h e i r r e a l a b i l i t i e s are. They need some o p p o r t u n i t i e s to be c r e a t i v e . They need to take t h e i r c r e a t i v e energy and express i t , release i t . I t would be f u l f i l l i n g , and kids would be a l o t happier to go to school i f they had that one t h i n g to grasp on t o . " Suggestion: Encouragement and guidance. Several suggestions were made by p a r t i c i p a n t s f o r someone to be a v a i l a b l e and supportive i n a genuine manner, whether i t was a c o u n s e l l o r , teacher, f a m i l y or f r i e n d . Example "Counsellors need to spend a l i t t l e more time and show that they r e a l l y care, and not j u s t p r o f e s s i o n a l concern." Suggestion: Respect from teachers. P a r t i c i p a n t s suggested that teachers t r e a t students w i t h more respect. This included t r e a t i n g students l i k e equals, and being able to c a l l teachers by t h e i r f i r s t names. P a r t i c i p a n t s were aware of, and uncomfortable w i t h the power d i f f e r e n t i a l between students and teachers. One p a r t i c i p a n t suggested that high school students are insecure and need an opportunity to assert t h e i r own power rather than being made to f e e l subordinate. Suggestion: Meaning of curriculum. P a r t i c i p a n t s mentioned the importance of understanding the meaning of what they were being taught. They suggested that a connection between the r e a l world and the c u r r i c u l u m would make coursework more meaningful. Several p a r t i c i p a n t s experienced boredom, and suggested that the c u r r i c u l u m should examine m a t e r i a l more c r i t i c a l l y and l e s s broadly. Summary In response to the question addressed to 16 students who completed high school a f t e r experiencing the r i s k of e a r l y leave: What f a c i l i t a t e d completion f o r you? P a r t i c i p a n t s responded w i t h 142 c r i t i c a l i n c i d e n t s . These 142 i n c i d e n t s were organized i n t o 16 categories that are described i n t h i s 99 chapter. Tests were employed i n the study to support the soundness and tru s t w o r t h i n e s s of the category system. I t was determined that the 16 categories were r e l i a b l e and v a l i d as a category system. As w e l l , the u t i l i t y of the h e l p i n g f a c t o r s was v a l i d a t e d by expert opinion with regard to p r a c t i c e . However, 8 of the 16 categories presented novel concepts, and thus could not be supported by r e l a t e d l i t e r a t u r e . These 8 categories remain to-be e i t h e r confirmed or disconfirmed i n future research. Anecdotal i n f o r m a t i o n emerging from the interviews was included i n the r e s u l t s to i l l u s t r a t e h e l p i n g suggestions made by p a r t i c i p a n t s . Important anecdotal information regarding p a r t i c i p a n t s ' experiences l e a d i n g up to t h e i r d i f f i c u l t time, and f o l l o w i n g t h e i r completion was included f o r l a t e r d i s c u s s i o n . 1 0 0 CHAPTER 5 DISCUSSION Summary of Findings This research study was done to determine the c o n d i t i o n s that f a c i l i t a t e completion of high school f o r students who experience the r i s k of dropping out. In order to answer t h i s question an adaptation of Flanagan's (1954) C r i t i c a l I ncident Technique was used to i n t e r v i e w 16 i n d i v i d u a l s who reported having experienced the r i s k of dropping out before completing high school. One-hundred and forty-two i n c i d e n t s were obtained and c l a s s i f i e d i n t o 16 cat e g o r i e s , w i t h reasonable r e l i a b i l i t y and v a l i d i t y . Eight of the categories were supported by the r e l a t e d l i t e r a t u r e , and eight were novel. P a r t i c i p a t i o n r ates f o r the categories ranged from 12 to 75 percent (Table 2). The highest rate of p a r t i c i p a t i o n was: Emotional Support and Guidance, at 75 percent, followed by P a r t i c i p a t i o n i n A r t s and Sports at 56 percent, Autonomy/Responsibility at 50 percent, and S e t t i n g Goals f o r the future at 50 percent. Anecdotal information from the i n t e r v i e w s , which was considered important by the researcher, was inc l u d e d i n the r e s u l t s . P a r t i c i p a n t s suggested that the f o l l o w i n g might help students s t r u g g l i n g to complete high school: goal s e t t i n g , p a r t i c i p a t i n g i n the a r t s and sport, teacher encouragement, guidance and respect from teachers, 101 and making cu r r i c u l u m meaningfully l i n k e d to the outside world. I t was also noted that the p a r t i c i p a n t s i n t h i s study tended to report emotional problems such as g r i e f and depression as c o n t r i b u t i n g to t h e i r d i f f i c u l t i e s i n school. Many i n d i c a t e d that they had e i t h e r been high achievers p r i o r to t h e i r d i f f i c u l t i e s , or that at the time of the study they were experiencing success i n post-secondary s t u d i e s . Some reported that they had i n t e n t i o n a l l y t r i e d to f a i l i n high school i n order to get a t t e n t i o n or to f i t i n w i t h peers. More than h a l f of the p a r t i c i p a n t s i n d i c a t e d that at the time of the study they were pursuing careers i n the a r t s . L i m i t a t i o n s of Research A number of f a c t o r s l i m i t t h i s i n v e s t i g a t i o n . F i r s t , the r e s u l t s of t h i s study may not be e a s i l y g e n e r a l i z e d at t h i s time due to the small number of p a r t i c i p a n t s . This could be described as a d e l i m i t a t i o n since i t was known at the onset that t h i s study would only provide an i n i t i a l set of c a t e g o r i e s that describe f a c i l i t a t i o n of high school completion, and not a d e f i n i t i v e d e s c r i p t i o n of e f f e c t i v e and i n e f f e c t i v e h e l p i n g f a c t o r s f o r youth at r i s k of e a r l y leave. Future s t u d i e s w i l l be needed to determine the g e n e r a l i z a b i l i t y of the categories and to begin to use the c a t e g o r i e s to f u r t h e r develop theory and p r a c t i c e . 102 Another l i m i t a t i o n of the study i s that the c a t e g o r i e s were d e r i v e d from r e t r o s p e c t i v e s e l f - r e p o r t s r a t h e r than by observation. C r i t i c a l i n c i d e n t s obtained t h i s way are l i m i t e d to the event that people are able to remember and a r t i c u l a t e at the time of the i n t e r v i e w . I t i s p o s s i b l e that some events were not mentioned because p a r t i c i p a n t s may not have r e c a l l e d them or been able to describe them. As w e l l , the study focused on concrete events i n terms of a c t i o n s taken or experienced by p a r t i c i p a n t s . Therefore, h e l p f u l r e l a t i o n s h i p s , i n t e r n a l p e r s o n a l i t y f a c t o r s , or other such v a r i a b l e s may not have been revealed. An a d d i t i o n a l l i m i t a t i o n to consider i s that p a r t i c i p a n t s i n t h i s study were volunteers. Those who chose not to respond to recruitment e f f o r t s may have had d i f f e r e n t experiences with high school completion than the p a r t i c i p a n t s of the study. For example, those who were not r e c r u i t e d f o r the study may have had more negative experiences and not have wanted to c o n t r i b u t e to the study. As w e l l , the study focused on h e l p i n g i n c i d e n t s during the experienced r i s k of e a r l y leave, without d i f f e r e n t i a t i n g between the kinds of experiences that l e d up to problems with completion. Subsequently, a complete context f o r the h e l p i n g f a c t o r s may not be t r u l y represented. D i f f e r e n t h e l p i n g f a c t o r s may be more or l e s s u s e f u l to d i f f e r e n t problems w i t h completion. 103 As w e l l , only student perspectives were included, whereas important i n f o r m a t i o n might have come from c o u n s e l l o r s and educators as w e l l . A f i n a l l i m i t a t i o n concerns the methodology. Although a c a t e g o r i c a l framework can provide p r a c t i c a l i n f o r m a t i o n f o r theory b u i l d i n g and program development, i t misses the unique and c r e a t i v e ways some i n d i v i d u a l s might have come to stay i n school. In l o o k i n g f o r commonality, some uniqueness i s i n e v i t a b l y l o s t . This suggests that a n a r r a t i v e approach might be taken i n future research on what f a c i l i t a t e s completion. I m p l i c a t i o n s f o r Theory and Research The r e s u l t s of t h i s study confirm and expand on the research p e r t a i n i n g to the f a c i l i t a t i o n of high school completion f o r those who experience the r i s k of e a r l y leave, as described i n the l i t e r a t u r e review and support of r e l a t e d l i t e r a t u r e f o r 8 of the categories i n the category scheme. The most important i m p l i c a t i o n i s that a d d i t i o n a l e m p i r i c a l evidence based on student perspectives was provided f o r what was p r e v i o u s l y based l a r g e l y on opinions of experts working w i t h students. Scholars have i n d i c a t e d a number of areas that might be u s e f u l i n f a c i l i t a t i n g completion of high school, which were confirmed i n the study. Those f a c t o r s are 104 emotional support and guidance, respect from teachers, opportunity to p a r t i c i p a t e and get help, s e t t i n g goals f o r the f u t u r e , autonomy/responsibility, r e c o g n i t i o n , and p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n the a r t s and sports, and an aspect of reward. Conceptualized together, these categories at f i r s t glance suggest overlap and c o n t r a d i c t i o n s . For example, the concept of autonomy and s e l f - r e s p o n s i b i l i t y seems to be i n o p p o s i t i o n w i t h reward, r e c o g n i t i o n and guidance, which comes from others. However, i n t e r p r e t a t i o n from a c o u n s e l l i n g p e r s p e c t i v e , p a r t i c u l a r l y one that u t i l i z e s a Person-Centred or empowerment approach makes c l e a r sense of t h i s apparent c o n t r a d i c t i o n . A c l o s e r look at the contents and d e s c r i p t i o n of these categories reveals that the reward, r e c o g n i t i o n and guidance which p a r t i c i p a n t s found u s e f u l were i n c i d e n t s that l e d to f e e l i n g s of c o n t r o l and p o s i t i v e s e l f - c o n c e p t s . This suggests that the he l p i n g i n c i d e n t s , that made up the categ o r i e s r e c o g n i t i o n , guidance and reward were of nature that l e d to empowerment and s e l f - d e t e r m i n a t i o n . This concept needs to be explored and a p p l i e d to a broader theory to determine i t s i n t e r a c t i o n with a number of areas i n academic achievement, i n a d d i t i o n to the a f f e c t on high school completion. Teaching and guidance that f a c i l i t a t e independence, c o n t r o l and s e l f - d e t e r m i n a t i o n i s emphasized i n 105 Western c o u n s e l l i n g approaches. The overlap confirms previous f i n d i n g s i n d i c a t i n g that dropping out i s a complex process and suggests the need f o r a w h o l i s t i c , i n t e g r a t e d approach. Once again, i t appears that c o u n s e l l o r s may be i n an i d e a l p o s i t i o n to research the question of what f a c i l i t a t e s completion of high school. I t i s noteworthy that s e v e r a l categories were w e l l endorsed, despite being novel concepts without previous research to support t h e i r v a l i d i t y . I t i s p o s s i b l e that the l a c k of student perspectives and s o l u t i o n - o r i e n t e d , counselling-based research can account f o r the n o v e l t y . A r e p l i c a t e d study that includes the voices of stakeholders w i l l be necessary to confirm o r . d i s c o n f i r m these c a t e g o r i e s . • With regard to p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n a r t s and s p o r t s , i t was c l e a r that the not j u s t any e x t r a - c u r r i c u l a r a c t i v i t y f a c i l i t a t e d completion. P a r t i c i p a n t s spoke of f e e l i n g a sense of accomplishment, o p p o r t u n i t i e s to be themselves, and to achieve i n an area where they f e l t they had t a l e n t . They als o spoke i n a p p r e c i a t i o n of the looser s t r u c t u r e of a r t s c l a s s e s , which provided o p p o r t u n i t i e s f o r autonomy, mastery, and expression of the s e l f . Researchers have noted that some underachievers are i n f a c t g i f t e d and c r e a t i v e students (Borthwick, Dow, Levesque, & Banks, 1980). Indeed, Mcrea (1987) suggested an 106 unconventional a t t i t u d e i s a common t r a i t of c r e a t i v e p e r s o n a l i t y . In a review of c r e a t i v i t y measures, Hocevar and Bachelor (1989) suggested that simple, s t r a i g h t f o r w a r d i n v e n t o r i e s of past c r e a t i v e achievement and a c t i v i t y are appropriate to i d e n t i f y c r e a t i v i t y . The s e l f - r e p o r t e d i n t e r e s t and involvement of the p a r t i c i p a n t s i n t h i s study i n the a r t s suggests the p o s s i b i l i t y that these p a r t i c i p a n t s were c r e a t i v e i n d i v i d u a l s . Eysenck (1993) argued that c r e a t i v e achievement depends on many f a c t o r s , i n c l u d i n g educational f a c t o r s . I f environmental f a c t o r s regulate c r e a t i v i t y , as suggested, care must be taken to maximize the achievement p o t e n t i a l f o r c r e a t i v e students whose needs may not be met by a conventional c u r r i c u l u m or teaching s t y l e . Since c r e a t i v i t y , by d e f i n i t i o n , i n v o l v e s c o n t r i b u t i o n i t may be important to look c l o s e r at the idea of e x p e r i e n t i a l l e a r n i n g environments, which allow students to question and p a r t i c i p a t e . This content emerged i n the category opportunity to p a r t i c i p a t e and get help. Amabile (1987) suggested that an i d e a l environment conducive to c r e a t i v e p r o d u c t i v i t y i s one i n which there i s no pressure or competition, as w e l l as one where negative e x t e r n a l e v a l u a t i o n i s not a th r e a t , and i n t r i n s i c m o t i v a t i o n i s c u l t i v a t e d (TAmabile, 1990) . These ideas and suggestions were 10 represented i n the categories of r e c o g n i t i o n , autonomy/responsibility, and reward, f u r t h e r developing the t h e o r e t i c a l l i n k between c r e a t i v e i n d i v i d u a l s and those who have d i f f i c u l t i e s completing high school. Some of the i n c i d e n t categories that emerged were novel i n terms of research, yet were r e l i a b l e , and v a l i d a t e d by p r o f e s s i o n a l s ' expert opinions. These warrant f u r t h e r research. One of these categories was i d e n t i t y development through s o c i a l comparison. According to E r i k s o n , the main task of the adolescent stage of l i f e i s i d e n t i t y development (1968), and research has i n d i c a t e d that i d e n t i t y development i s l a r g e l y i n f l u e n c e d by peers during adolescence (Meeus & Dekovic, 1995). However, the idea that i d e n t i t y development through s o c i a l comparison can f a c i l i t a t e high school completion i s novel. From these p r e l i m i n a r y f i n d i n g s questions emerge. Do students who experience the r i s k of e a r l y leave s t r u g g l e with i d e n t i t y development to a greater extent than t h e i r peers? What s p e c i f i c kind of s o c i a l comparison, and which type of s o c i a l group include f a c t o r s that i n f l u e n c e completion? Can co u n s e l l o r s encourage or f a c i l i t a t e i d e n t i t y development by encouraging s o c i a l comparison, and how e x a c t l y w i l l doing so help students to stay i n school? What leads to the d e s i r e to f i t i n wit h a 108 group that i s s u c c e s s f u l versus belonging to a group of e a r l y leavers? I f e a r l y leavers are over-represented by c r e a t i v e i n d i v i d u a l s , i s the i d e n t i t y development f o r c r e a t i v e i n d i v i d u a l s a greater challenge? I t makes i n t u i t i v e sense that a c r e a t i v e p e r s o n a l i t y might be more complicated to negotiate and develop than a more conventional one. Rogers (1976) conceptualized the c r e a t i v e i n d i v i d u a l as a p s y c h o l o g i c a l l y open person, i n contrast to people who d e f e n s i v e l y p r o t e c t themselves from new, d i s r u p t i v e experiences. Perhaps t h i s e xplains why many students who have d i f f i c u l t y i n high school report problems with a f f e c t , boredom and l o s s of meaning. These questions should be addressed i n future s t u d i e s . A l s o a novel category which emerged was the opportunity to take time o f f to th i n k or deal with emotional i s s u e s . Perhaps t a k i n g t h i s time to be with oneself o f f e r s an opportunity to engage i n the c r e a t i v e a c t i v i t i e s which f a c i l i t a t e p o s i t i v e development of sel f - c o n c e p t , an opportunity that may not be a v a i l a b l e i n school. Z e l i n g e r (1990) warned that blockage of the passage through c r e a t i v e process may r e s u l t i n an impoverishment of the p e r s o n a l i t y . P a r t i c i p a n t s i n t h i s study who took time o f f read books about a r t and wrote f i c t i o n and poetry. They spoke of having "me 109 time". This f i n d i n g suggests the importance of opp o r t u n i t y to p a r t i c i p a t e i n the a r t s or s i m i l a r a c t i v i t i e s f o r the purpose of s e l f - e x p r e s s i o n , working through emotions, and i d e n t i t y development. I f students had o p p o r t u n i t i e s to do these things i n school, perhaps they would not r e q u i r e time away from school to focus on the needs that are not being met there. Change of environment also emerged as a novel concept. While program evaluations e x i s t with regard to a l t e r n a t i v e schools, the concept of change of environment as a high school completion h e l p i n g f a c t o r unto i t s e l f has been l a r g e l y overlooked. In t h i s study, whether the change of environment had to do wit h a new school, a change of s o c i a l c i r c l e , or a move out of the p a r e n t a l home, a l l p a r t i c i p a n t s i n d i c a t e d that a the opportunity f o r a f r e s h new s t a r t was the mo t i v a t i n g v a r i a b l e . I n c i d e n t a l l y , preference f o r n o v e l t y i s als o a d e s c r i p t o r of the c r e a t i v e p e r s o n a l i t y (Costa & McCrae, 1985). One d e s c r i p t o r of the c r e a t i v e person i s a s t r i v i n g to maintain and avoid s t a t i c e q u i l i b r i u m . R e l a x a t i o n and balance f o r a c r e a t i v e i n d i v i d u a l i s found i n constant change and a c t i o n (McNiff, 1981). Expectation or perceived pressure to graduate might be conceptualized as a challenge v a r i a b l e , or be examined i n the l i g h t of theory on adolescent i d e n t i f y development. I t i s 110 p o s s i b l e that p a r t i c i p a n t s r e q u i r e an optimal l e v e l of pressure or expectation i n t h e i r s o c i a l environment i n order to achieve. Ishiyama's (1989) suggestion that group i n c l u s i o n i s a s o c i a l reinforcement v a r i a b l e that c o n t r i b u t e s to s e l f - v a l i d a t i o n , and s e l f - w o r t h . L i v i n g up to s o c i e t y ' s expectations, i n c l u d i n g those of f a m i l y may be rewarded wi t h r e c o g n i t i o n , which may lead to a sense of s e c u r i t y and acceptance. Given t h i s explanation, i t seems l i k e l y that the p e r c e i v e d expectations and s o - c a l l e d pressure to graduate may be s e r v i n g as a motivator based on an i n t e r n a l i z e d idea of the reward of r e c o g n i t i o n and acceptance. With regards to the emergent theme of lessened workloads, i t remains to be explored whether change i n the q u a l i t y or s t y l e of teaching and l e a r n i n g has s i m i l a r e f f e c t s to change i n the q u a n t i t y . Several p a r t i c i p a n t s e i t h e r complained that school was meaningless, i r r e l e v a n t , b o r i n g and too broad, or suggested that l i n k s be made to the r e a l world- w i t h regard to curriculum. The idea of a lessened workload being a motivator might change i f d e t a i l s on the q u a l i t y of the schoolwork were explored more c a r e f u l l y . R e c a l l that p a r t i c i p a n t s reported being motivated i n c e r t a i n areas, namely the a r t s and sport. Perhaps i f academic subjects can be taught with more c r e a t i v e f l a i r , i n c l u d i n g o p p o r t u n i t i e s f o r questions and c o n t r i b u t i o n , the need f o r a I l l lessened workload might not be a f a c t o r necessary to motivate them towards achievement. The category of f i c t i o n a l r o l e models i s new, however the concept of using r o l e models i s not. The Western p r a c t i c e of mentoring draws s t r o n g l y on the p r i n c i p l e of r o l e modeling (McCormick, 1995). There i s some evidence that l i v e r o l e models can be e f f e c t i v e i n promoting completion of high school (Richardson, 1987; Sosa, 1990), but the l i t e r a t u r e tends to be d e s c r i p t i v e rather than e m p i r i c a l , and the focus i s on r o l e model programs f o r m i n o r i t y youth a t - r i s k i n American schools. I t w i l l be up to future research to e m p i r i c a l l y confirm or d i s c o n f i r m whether f i c t i o n a l r o l e models f a c i l i t a t e completion of high school. O v e r a l l , the c a t e g o r i e s seem to suggest a promising framework from which f u r t h e r t h e o r e t i c a l development can take place. I m p l i c a t i o n s f o r P r a c t i c e The p o i n t s r a i s e d i n t h i s study have important i m p l i c a t i o n s f o r the p r a c t i c i n g of c o u n s e l l i n g . According to G a s k e l l (1995), s p e c i a l programs can be used to respond to p a r t i c u l a r needs, but can also exclude and m a r g i n a l i z e . While a dilemma e x i s t s regarding whether to minimize or maximize d i f f e r e n c e s , the s p e c i a l programs to support students who are having d i f f i c u l t i e s are viewed as c r i t i c a l 112 to success. This confirms what was h i g h l i g h t e d i n the l i t e r a t u r e review with regards to the d e t r i m e n t a l e f f e c t of l a b e l i n g an i n d i v i d u a l . The emphasis i n terms of research and p r a c t i c e should be the education system w i t h regard to the experiences and needs of the c l i e n t s i t serves. This i s i n l i n e w i t h stakeholder informed program development paradigms (Guba & L i n c o l n , 1989). A l l program i n i t i a t i v e s and research need to include the perspectives of students w i t h regards to t h e i r concerns and expressed needs. The emergent categories and i m p l i c a t i o n s w i t h regard to c r e a t i v i t y , or simply p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n the a r t s and s p o r t s , i n d i c a t e that an abundance of resources e x i s t f o r f a c i l i t a t i n g completion of high school. Most schools already have c u r r i c u l u m which include a r t education, or e x t r a - c u r r i c u l a r o p p o r t u n i t i e s to p a r t i c i p a t e i n the a r t s and s p o r t s . Whether or not students who experience d i f f i c u l t i e s completing high school are c r e a t i v e i n d i v i d u a l s , encouraging involvement i n these programs can be u s e f u l . Researchers have i n d i c a t e d that a r t programs, f o r example, can f o s t e r self-awareness, personal growth, and a sense of mastery over the environment (Buckland & Bennet, 1995; Lawlor, 1992; T e i r s t e i n , 1991). Mastery and self-awareness are necessary components of the development of a p o s i t i v e s e l f - c o n c e p t , which has been shown to c o n t r i b u t e to completion and motivate 113 students to achieve. Creative a c t i v i t y has a l s o been r e l a t e d to r e s o u r c e f u l coping (Foster, 1992). Again, whether or not the students who are s t r u g g l i n g are p a r t i c u l a r l y c r e a t i v e i n d i v i d u a l s , p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n the a r t s , and perhaps s p o r t s , can be u t i l i z e d i n prev e n t a t i v e programs to keep students i n school, provide them with an o u t l e t f o r expression, i d e n t i t y development, and adjustment. Another f a c t o r that emerged with i m p l i c a t i o n s f o r p r a c t i s e was the category of medicine. The r e l a t i o n s h i p of p a r t i c u l a r medications to o v e r a l l school performance has not been studied, however having an undiagnosed emotional problem i s one f a c t o r that has been i d e n t i f i e d as having a negative e f f e c t on student m o t i v a t i o n to perform w e l l i n school ( A s t i n , 1985). Less s p e c i f i c a l l y , but l i k e w i s e supportive of the category, Morris Pawlovich, and McCall, (1991) i n d i c a t e d that students at r i s k should have the opportunity to have c o u n s e l l i n g address the issue of management of an x i e t y . C o u n s e l l i n g programs need to be developed to help students deal w i t h emotional i s s u e s . A more m u l t i - d i s c i p l i n a r y approach, i n c l u d i n g medical and s o c i a l s e r v i c e s , w i t h communication among team members might be u s e f u l . P r a c t i c a l help with a d r i v e to school i n the morning i s a novel idea and has not been explored. M o r r i s , Pawlovich, and McCall (1991) i n a review of l i t e r a t u r e and c o n s u l t a t i o n w i t h experts recommended that v a r i e d school environments and f l e x i b l e scheduling can help schools meet the needs of students w i t h problems. Others have also i n d i c a t e d that a f l e x i b l e l e a r n i n g schedule can be h e l p f u l with students who are at r i s k of e a r l y leave ( F r a n k l i n & S t r e e t e r , 1995; M o r r i s , Pawlovich, & McCall, 1991). More a t t e n t i o n and f l e x i b i l i t y w ith regard to scheduling f o r students experiencing d i f f i c u l t i e s might be h e l p f u l . P r o x i m i t y of the school and ease wi t h which students t r a v e l to the l o c a t i o n might a l s o be considered i n terms of improving attendance. 115 With regards to the f a c i l i t a t i n g i d e n t i t y development through s o c i a l comparison, c e r t a i n i m p l i c a t i o n s f o r p r a c t i c e arose. Educators i n exemplary schools have recommended and u t i l i z e d peer c o u n s e l l i n g f o r students at r i s k of dropping out (Morris, Pawlovich, & McCall, 1991). This kind of programming i s l i k e l y based on an understanding of the i d e n t i t y development stage of adolescence, however i t i s not c l e a r whether developmental theory i s incorporated i n t o the design of peer c o u n s e l l i n g programming. The r e s u l t s of t h i s study suggest that programs u t i l i z i n g peers may be an e x i s t i n g resource that can be f u r t h e r developed. Future peer c o u n s e l l i n g programs should be i n part founded on the p r i n c i p a l s of i d e n t i t y development. This research also suggests that i n t e r v e n t i o n s f o r students who experience d i f f i c u l t i e s i n clude teachers as a resource. Teachers need to express r e c o g n i t i o n f o r e f f o r t and achievement, o f f e r support, guidance, and p r a i s e . O v e r a l l , t h i s research suggests s t r o n g l y that educators must begin to recognize the value of a multi-dimensional, w h o l i s t i c approach to education. I t i s evident that i n t e l l e c t u a l development can not be separated from emotional and personal growth, at l e a s t i n adolescent education. I f the r e s p o n s i b i l i t y of the education system i s indeed to teach youth to become c o n t r i b u t i n g members of s o c i e t y , t h e i r unique 116 c o n t r i b u t i o n s and expressions of s e l f must be recognized and encouraged. They must be recognized f o r t h e i r unique c o n t r i b u t i o n s , encouraged and supported emotionally, provided w i t h guidance and o p p o r t u n i t i e s f o r s e l f - d i r e c t e d , f u t u r e o r i e n t e d e x p l o r a t i o n of i n t e r e s t s . Teachers must t r e a t students w i t h respect, l i k e r esponsible a d u l t s , i f they want to teach r e s p o n s i b i l i t y . Likewise, scheduling must be f l e x i b l e and options must be a v a i l a b l e to accommodate and inc l u d e students with needs that may not be met by conventional programming. Perhaps most importantly, o p p o r t u n i t i e s to p a r t i c i p a t e i n the a r t s and sport a c t i v i t i e s must be a v a i l a b l e to a l l students. As w e l l , the s t y l e of teaching, and s t r u c t u r e of a r t s and sports programs might be u t i l i z e d to design c r e a t i v e approaches to teaching academic subj e c t s . I m p l i c a t i o n s f o r Further Research A d d i t i o n a l research needs to be conducted i f c o u n s e l l o r s and educators wish to use the category system presented here, p a r t i c u l a r l y to confirm or d i s c o n f i r m the novel concepts that were presented. I t w i l l be necessary to also evaluate the e f f e c t i v e n e s s of such p r a c t i c e and programs to see i f a t h e o r e t i c a l map can be created and r e f i n e d from the c a t e g o r i e s . 117 Future research might i n v o l v e r e p l i c a t i n g t h i s study w i t h a l a r g e r number of p a r t i c i p a n t s , to determine i f new inf o r m a t i o n and categories w i l l be obtained, or to r e v i s e these categories to f u r t h e r an understanding of what f a c i l i t a t e s completion. Studies might in c l u d e students who are about to graduate, rather than r e c r u i t i n g v o l u n t e e r s , as opinions those who might not otherwise volunteer f o r a study w i l l a l s o be included. A focus f o r future research should be to explore whether, i n f a c t , a large percentage of students who have d i f f i c u l t y i n high school are p o t e n t i a l l y high a c h i e v i n g or c r e a t i v e i n d i v i d u a l s . The next stage would be to explore whether p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n the a r t s would f a c i l i t a t e g reater r e t e n t i o n rates and achievement f o r t h i s group. Future research might use the r e s u l t s of t h i s study to develop a t e s t to evaluate the a v a i l a b i l i t y of h e l p f u l resources f o r a p a r t i c u l a r student at a time of need. This kind of measure would focus on s o l u t i o n s and h e l p i n g , and as such would be more appropriate f o r use i n c o u n s e l l i n g than i d e n t i f y i n g someone as being a t - r i s k f o r f a i l u r e . For example, a c o u n s e l l o r might give a student a t e s t to see what areas are l a c k i n g i n terms of support, i n order to help that student f i n d or develop resources .in that area. Likewise, a group of students could be administered such a t e s t and 118 r e s u l t s could be u t i l i z e d to make changes i n school programming, or c o u n s e l l i n g s e r v i c e s . Any f u r t h e r examination of what f a c i l i t a t e s completion f o r students who experienced the r i s k of e a r l y leave, which draws on student and c o u n s e l l i n g perspectives should prove to be extremely u s e f u l to both research and p r a c t i s e . Conclusion This study explores the f a c i l i t a t i o n of completion of high school f o r students who experienced the r i s k of e a r l y leave. The purpose of the study was to develop a reasonably comprehensive scheme of categories that would describe what f a c i l i t a t e s completion from the pe r s p e c t i v e of former high school students. The research method i n v o l v e d i n t e r v i e w s w i t h i n d i v i d u a l s who were i n a p o s i t i o n to observe what f a c i l i t a t e d t h e i r own completion i n the face of a d v e r s i t y . The C r i t i c a l Incident Technique (Flanagan, 1954) was u t i l i z e d to e l i c i t 142 i n c i d e n t s from 16 p a r t i c i p a n t s . Sixteen c a t e g o r i e s emerged from an a n a l y s i s of the i n c i d e n t s reported. The soundness and trustworthiness of the c a t e g o r i e s was t e s t e d with a number of procedures. R e s u l t s i n d i c a t e that completion can be f a c i l i t a t e d by emotional support and guidance, respect from teachers, opportunity to p a r t i c i p a t e and get help, goals s e t t i n g f o r the f u t u r e , encouragement of autonomy and r e s p o n s i b i l i t y , r e c o g n i t i o n , p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n the a r t s or sport, and an aspect of reward. What remains to be confirmed are the novel h e l p i n g c a t e g o r i e s that emerged i n the study. They include time o f f , medication, change of environment, expectation or pressure to graduate, lessened workloads, p r a c t i c a l help g e t t i n g to school, i d e n t i t y development through s o c i a l comparison, and the use of f i c t i o n a l r o l e models. Anecdotal information that was c o n s i s t e n t l y observed i n the contents of the in t e r v i e w s and considered important by the researcher i n terms of i m p l i c a t i o n s , were i n c l u d e d and discussed. P a r t i c i p a n t s made suggestions on what might help other students s t r u g g l i n g to complete high school. Their suggestions included having o p p o r t u n i t i e s to set goals and to p a r t i c i p a t e i n the a r t s and sports, teachers t r e a t i n g students with more respect, having opportunity to p a r t i c i p a t i o n and get guidance, lessened workload o r . s e l f - expectations , and more meaningful curriculum. Most p a r t i c i p a t e s i n d i c a t e d that they had personal problems le a d i n g to emotional needs not being met. Many reported e i t h e r having been high achieving p r i o r to these d i f f i c u l t i e s , or at the time of the study, having achieved success i n post-secondary educational p u r s u i t s . Almost a l l i n d i c a t e d that they f e l t they d i d not f i t . i n , and some 12 reported attempted to f a i l on purpose to f i t i n wi t h a p a r t i c u l a r peer group. Most of the p a r t i c i p a n t s i n d i c a t e d that they were i n t e r e s t e d i n the a r t s during high school, and/or were working towards a career i n a c r e a t i v e area such as design or theatre at the time of the study. The f i n d i n g s of t h i s study c o n t r i b u t e to the f i e l d of c o u n s e l l i n g psychology by p r o v i d i n g reasonably comprehensive scheme of categories that describe from the p e r s p e c t i v e of former students, what f a c i l i t a t e s completion of high school. This study suggests promising developments i n high school completion that has i m p l i c a t i o n s f o r research, p r a c t i c e and cu r r i c u l u m design. 121 References 7Amabile, T.M. (1987). The motivation to be c r e a t i v e . In S.G. Isaksen (Ed.), F r o n t i e r s of c r e a t i v i t y research: Beyond the B a s i c s , pp. 223-254. B u f f a l o , NY: Bearly. 7Amabile, T.M. (1990). 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Leaving College: Rethinking the Causes and Cures of Student A t t r i t i o n . Chicago, 111.: U n i v e r s i t y of Chicago Press. V a l l e r a n d , R.J., F o r t i e r , M.S., Guay, F. (1997). S e l f -determination and p e r s i s t e n c e i n a r e a l - l i f e s e t t i n g : Toward a m o t i v a t i o n a l model of high school dropout. Journal of P e r s o n a l i t y and S o c i a l Psychology, 72(5), 127 1161-1176. V i s p o e l , W.P. & A u s t i n , J.R. (1995). Success and f a i l u r e i n j u n i o r high school: a c r i t i c a l i n c i d e n t approach to understanding•students' a t t r i b u t i o n a l b e l i e f s . 7American Educational Research Journal, 32(2), pp. 377-412. Wells, S. (1990). At Risk Youth: I d e n t i f i c a t i o n , Programs and Recommendations. Englewood, Colorado: Teacher Ideas Press. Young, R.E. (1991). C r i t i c a l Incidents i n E a r l y School Leavers' T r a n s i t i o n to Adulthood. Unpublished Master's t h e s i s , U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia, B.C. Z e l l i n g e r , J. (1990). Charting the c r e a t i v e process. B r i t i s h Journal of P r o j e c t i v e Psychology, 35 (1), 78-96. APPENDIX A: INFORMATION AND CONSENT FORM APPENDIX B: DEMOGRAPHIC INFORMATION 132 The f o l l o w i n g d e s c r i p t i o n s are included to describe some c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of the p a r t i c i p a n t s , however, the d e s c r i p t i o n s are by no means exhaustive, and d e t a i l s have been excluded to maintain c o n f i d e n t i a l i t y . As mentioned, the present research f i n d i n g s and i m p l i c a t i o n s extend beyond demographic v a r i a b l e s , since the aim was a q u a l i t a t i v e e x p l o r a t i o n based on a common experience. The reader i s t h e r e f o r advised not to make assumptions about the data based on these b r i e f demographic d e s c r i p t i o n s . P a r t i c i p a n t #1: Caucasian female, 19 years o l d at the time of the study, who graduated from a high school i n Surrey i n 1999, where she reported seeing a c o u n s e l l o r and having a p o s i t i v e experience. C u r r e n t l y working as a w a i t r e s s , w i t h a goal to attend c o l l e g e . Was a high achiever who remembers purposely t r y i n g to f a i l to get a t t e n t i o n from teachers. In high school, she experienced f a m i l y problems, l i v i n g on her own, and was diagnosed with b i p o l a r d i s o r d e r . P a r t i c i p a n t #2: Caucasian female from Hamilton, Ontario who was a 21 year o l d u n i v e r s i t y student, planning to t r a n s f e r to a r t c o l l e g e i n Ontario, at the time of the study. She graduated i n 1997 i n Hamilton, a f t e r an experience of co n s c i o u s l y attempting to f a i l . She reports that she was a high achiever who became depressed and had problems f i t t i n g i n . She w r i t e s c r e a t i v e l y , and uses w r i t i n g to deal w i t h emotions. P a r t i c i p a n t #3: Caucasian female, 27 years o l d , working as an I n t e r i o r Designer with some c o l l e g e education. She graduated from a school i n Markham, Ontario a f t e r dropping out f o r a short w h i l e . She reported f e e l i n g depressed, and a negative experience w i t h her high school c o u n s e l l o r . She had d i f f i c u l t i e s f i t t i n g i n . P a r t i c i p a n t #4: Caucasian male, completed an a l t e r n a t i v e high school i n Montreal a f t e r dropping out with a lar g e peer group, then r e - e n t e r i n g school with the same peer group. C u r r e n t l y works as an actor/comedian. Had a very p o s i t i v e experience w i t h both c o u n s e l l o r s and teachers i n the a l t e r n a t i v e school. He expressed regret at not having the opportunity to do theatre during high school. He reported depression, and having been a high achiever who attempted to flu n k i n order to f i t i n . P a r t i p a n t # 5: Jewish female, 19 years of age, graduated i n 1997 from a r e g u l a r high school on Vancouver I s l a n d , although she was o r i g i n a l l y placed i n a s p e c i a l program f o r l e a r n i n g 134 d i s a b i l i t i e s . A f t e r p l a c i n g h e r s e l f back i n a mainstream program, she was h e a v i l y i n v o l v e d i n theatre at school. She c u r r e n t l y attends a c t i n g school and works as a w a i t r e s s . P a r t i c i p a n t #6: Caucasian male, 24 years o l d who dropped out then returned and graduated with honours from a school i n Surrey. He d i d e q u a l l y w e l l i n the sciences and a r t s . C u r r e n t l y completing a degree i n Fine A r t s . He reported having been a high achiever who attempted to f a i l i n order to f i t i n . He p a i n t s p r o f e s s i o n a l l y and plans to attend graduate school. He reported having had p o s i t i v e experiences w i t h c o u n s e l l o r s i n high school. P a r t i c i p a n t #7: Caucasian female, 21 years o l d , c u r r e n t l y working as a p a s t r y chef, with plans to open a s t o r e . She graduated from a r e g u l a r high school i n Saskatchewan i n 1995. She reported being s u c c e s s f u l i n sciences and a r t s . She then attended a Marine Biology u n i v e r s i t y program but d i d not complete. She reported f a m i l y problems and depression, as w e l l as problems f i t t i n g i n , and a c t i v e involvement i n v i s u a l a r t s . P a r t i c i p a n t #8: Caucasian male, 23 years o l d at the time of the study, who had completed high school i n Vancouver i n 135 1995, as w e l l as some post-secondary at the c o l l e g e l e v e l , and v o c a t i o n a l courses through a community mental h e a l t h agency. In high school, he was diagnosed with manic- depression, and t h i s i l l n e s s l e d to many absences as w e l l as school changes. He f e l t he had d i f f i c u l t i e s f i t t i n g i n . At the time of the study, he was lo o k i n g f o r work and planning to r e t u r n to c o l l e g e . He f e l t that c o u n s e l l o r s were h e l p f u l , p a r t i c u l a r l y w i t h regard to g e t t i n g him i n v o l v e d i n sports and e x t r a - c u r r i c u l a r a c t i v i t i e s . P a r t i c i p a n t #9: Chinese male, 23 years o l d , attending u n i v e r s i t y courses at the time of the study. He graduated from a high school i n Burnaby i n 1994 a f t e r d i f f i c u l t i e s w i t h emotions. C o u n s e l l i n g was h e l p f u l . He remained h e a v i l y i n v o l v e d i n theatre during high school, even when he was missing a great deal due to depression. At the time of the study, he reported doing very w e l l i n u n i v e r s i t y , and aiming to continue i n a c t i n g . P a r t i c i p a n t #10: Caucasian female, 28 years of age, attending c o l l e g e f o r u n i v e r s i t y t r a n s f e r i n the area of law and psychology. This p a r t i c i p a n t graduated i n 1988 from a high school i n Prince George where she was in v o l v e d i n Music. She dropped out tempor a r i l y because school had l o s t meaning, she 136 d i d not f e e l she f i t i n , and no one was l i s t e n i n g . A c o u n s e l l o r convinced her s u c c e s s f u l l y to r e t u r n . P a r t i c i p a n t #11: Chinese male, 22 years o l d , graduated from a Vancouver secondary a f t e r problems with the law and f a m i l y of o r i g i n . He f e l t he d i d not f i t i n but found much v a l i d a t i o n and r e c o g n i t i o n through p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n sport. He reported that a c o u n s e l l i n g i n t e r v e n t i o n with regard to h i s anger problems was h i g h l y e f f e c t i v e . At the time of the study, he was completing h i s l a s t year at u n i v e r s i t y and c o n s i d e r i n g a career i n p o l i c i n g . P a r t i c i p a n t #12: Korean female, 24 years o l d , graduated from a Vancouver school a f t e r dropping an l.B. program to take only the necessary r e g u l a r courses. At the time of the study, p a r t i c i p a n t was completing a B.A. i n music. She reported f a m i l y problems, depression, and f e e l i n g that she d i d not f i t i n . P a r t i c i p a n t #13: East-Indian male, 29 years o l d , studying Commerce at c o l l e g e with the goal of attending u n i v e r s i t y . This p a r t i c i p a n t was l i v i n g on i s own when he dropped out of school and was not i n contact with s o c i a l s e r v i c e s . He reported that problems at home were r e l a t e d to h i s sexual 137 o r i e n t a t i o n and not being accepted. He returned to school when a f r i e n d o f f e r e d to support him f i n a n c i a l l y , and graduated with honours. His experiences w i t h c o u n s e l l o r s were p o s i t i v e . P a r t i c i p a n t #14: Latino male, 23 years o l d , graduated from a school i n Downsview, Ontario a f t e r l e a v i n g f o r a short time to work and take a t r i p to South America. He attended a v o c a t i o n a l l y focused c o l l e g e program and worked as an e l e c t r i c i a n p r i o r to being hurt at work. At the time of the study he was contemplating the d i r e c t i o n of h i s career. He i n d i c a t e d that he was a high achiever before school l o s t meaning, and he f e l t he l o s t momentum. Time o f f to set goals, and the opportunity to complete c r e d i t s at nigh t school f a c i l i t a t e d completion f o r him. P a r t i c i p a n t #15: Caucasian female, 20 years o l d , studying to be a C h i l d and Youth Worker at a Vancouver College. She graduated from a Vancouver high school a f t e r some d i f f i c u l t i e s r e l a t e d to depression and g r i e f . She i n d i c a t e d that she w r i t e s poetry and does photography. Graphic a r t s as w e l l as poetry i n the E n g l i s h c u r r i c u l u m kept her attached to the school. Her experience with c o u n s e l l o r s was g e n e r a l l y 138 p o s i t i v e , although she f e l t they d i d not t r e a t her l i k e she was capable of t a k i n g r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r h e r s e l f . P a r t i c i p a n t #16: Caucasian female, 22 years o l d , graduated i n 1995 from a Vancouver-high school a f t e r a bout of depression. At the time of the study she was attending general c o l l e g e courses, w i t h an i n t e r e s t i n I n t e r n a t i o n a l R e l a t i o n s . She reported that she was h e a v i l y i n v o l v e d with t h e a t r e , and that kept her coming to school. Her c o u n s e l l o r was a l s o very a c t i v e and h e l p f u l . She i n d i c a t e d that she would be pursuing a career i n theatre i f she d i d not fear f o l l o w i n g i n the footsteps of her parents, who are i n v o l v e d i n the business. APPENDIX C: RECRUITMENT POSTER

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