Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)

5-2011

Type of Culminating Activity

Dissertation

Degree Title

Doctor of Education in Curriculum and Instruction

Department

Curriculum, Instruction, and Foundational Studies

Major Advisor

Scott Willison, Ph.D.

Abstract

School-based mentoring programs have recently emerged as a potential method to improve pro-social behavior, academic success, resiliency, a sense of school connectedness, and reduce at-risk behaviors and drop-out probability among youth. This action research study surveyed 142 students to assess changes in student attitudes associated with implementing the first year of a sophomore mentoring program at a semi-urban high school in the northwestern United States. The mentoring program was called the Pathfinder program, a youth-to-youth group mentoring program developed and marketed by Varsity Gold Leadership, Inc. The extent of influence the Pathfinder program exerted over concepts related to school connectedness and academic motivation was compared to three other sources of influence (teachers, family, and friends). Results indicated friends were the most powerful source of influence, although family was quite influential, as well. In general, as academic motivation and perception of school climate improved, so did students’ estimation of the power exerted by all sources of influence. Although students reportedly enjoyed the Pathfinder program, it was least effective with students who were at most risk.

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