At-risk programs in education: A qualitative proposal and rationale.
AdvisorSanders, T. Frank
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThe purpose of this inquiry was to generate a conceptual framework, rooted in philosophy and social theory, suitable for developing and evaluating educational programs for youths at-risk. Logically, practice in any field should follow research and research should be guided by theory. Numerous researchers in the at-risk field had noted an absence of theory-based research into the effectiveness of programs or interventions. A review of the literature revealed limited work along the lines of theory construction in this field. An analysis of John Dewey's conception of qualitative experience was undertaken. Qualitative experience was seen as a potentially powerful, largely overlooked arena for improving the educational opportunities of at-risk youths in theoretically predominant schools. In spite of its centrality in his philosophy, "...neither Dewey nor his followers made appropriate use of it in shaping early progressive or subsequent education" (Villemain, 1959, p. 21). Experimentalist foundations including ideas of Charles S. Peirce were explored. The contributions of several philosophers, especially Francis Villemain, were examined for their bearing upon understanding the qualitative aspects of experience. T. Frank Saunders' model for structured inquiry was selected as a unifying instrument for relating theoretical and qualitative affairs in a program development framework. A three dimensional, parallel pairs model was suggested for program evaluations. The resulting models permit exhaustive elaboration of at-risk categories, definitions, and meanings for program development purposes as well as the most comprehensive evaluation of programs possible. These models may be used by educators as guides for developing and evaluating interventions for youths at-risk. The ideas of experimentalist philosophers examined herein on the qualitative aspects of experience may provide a theoretical field for further inquiry in the at-risk arena.
Degree ProgramEducational Foundations and Administration