The role of hope in alternative education: A mixed methods study
The purpose of the current study was to examine the impact of an alternative education program on growth in achievement scores, as well as on measures of student hope. As the population of at-risk students is large and predicted to show continued growth, it is critical to increase the knowledge base regarding at-risk student characteristics and the interventions that assist these students in achieving their potential. Utilizing the work of Snyder and others (Snyder, Hoza, Pelham, Rapoff, Ware, Danovsky et al., 1997; Sympson, 1999; Woodruff, 2001), the current study focuses on the development of academic hope in particular, as well as hope in five other specific domains: friendship, family, fun, health, and safety. One component of the program utilized student-developed electronic portfolios of academic work as a means of improving the ability to set goals, increase pathways thinking, and develop agentic actions. By using both quantitative and qualitative methods, the impact of the program is highlighted through test scores as well as the words of the students themselves. The results of this study indicate student improvement in the content areas of reading, mathematics, and written language. In addition, improvements were noted in the areas of total academic hope and academic pathways, total fun hope and pathways, total health hope, and safety hope pathways. In addition, study findings indicate differences between high and low hope students in their position on a developmental progression of hopelessness, with low hope students providing a clear portrayal of their sense of futility and apathy. Results and findings are discussed with regard to implications for both practice and research.