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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

An Entrepreneurial Systems Approach to Dropout Prevention: A Student-Centric Approach to Purposeful Academic Engagement Among At-Risk Youth
by Osgood, Deborah A., D.A., Franklin Pierce University, 2011, 224; 3474205
Abstract (Summary)

The objective of this study was to test the success of a dropout prevention typology. Research was based on the proposition that until youth at risk of dropping out of school developed a sense of purpose in life that was meaningful to them, education lacked relevance, contributing to dropout behavior. Through a goal-setting and career planning process, at-risk youth were assisted in understanding the importance of education in relationship to individual career goals and life purpose.

Research of goal-setting typologies identified a four-step process used with entrepreneurs that facilitates self-assessment, goal identification, planning and network building. Studies indicated that entrepreneurs who purposefully engaged in these activities demonstrated improved venture outcomes compared to entrepreneurs who did not. Research further indicated that at-risk youth and entrepreneurs possess similar behaviors including aggression, noncompliance, outspokenness, independence, resourcefulness and risk-taking.

Based on these behavioral similarities, a similar four-step goal setting process was developed and rigorously tested among at-risk youth populations in grades 9 through 11 from two different public education environments. A pre-post intervention research method was employed. A pre-survey benchmarked at-risk youth perceptions regarding the importance of high school credentialing and post-secondary education before intervention, and a post-survey measured changes in perception, if any, following intervention engagement. Participation was optional.

Post intervention results showed that 100% of at-risk youth demonstrated meaningful goal setting and an increased sense of purpose through intervention participation, 96.6% were committed to the attainment of high school credentialing, and over 60% reported an increase in their perceptions regarding the importance of post-secondary education.

Study outcomes confirm a relationship between goal setting and career planning and an increased sense of purpose. Further, when empowered with an increased sense of purpose, at-risk youth demonstrated an increased commitment to purposeful academic engagement and a decreased likelihood of dropping out. The Four-Step Systems Approach to Positive Youth Development represents an original contribution by the researcher to the fields of dropout prevention and student-centric learning, and a foundation for an individual learning plan framework. The research offers policy makers, educators and workforce development practitioners new insights into dropout prevention, learning optimization and career development.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Moore-West, Maggie
Commitee: Ayers, Richard, Moore-West, Maggie
School: Franklin Pierce University
Department: Leadership
School Location: United States -- New Hampshire
Source: DAI-A 72/12, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational leadership, Educational psychology, Secondary education
Keywords: At-risk youth, Dropout prevention, Entrepreneurial development, Goal-setting, Individual learning plan, Workforce development
Publication Number: 3474205
ISBN: 978-1-124-90206-7
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