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dc.contributor.advisor Billingsley, William en_US
dc.contributor.author Tsalyuk, Boris
dc.date.accessioned 2018-06-26T22:32:29Z
dc.date.available 2018-06-26T22:32:29Z
dc.date.issued 2018-06-26
dc.date.submitted 2018-06-22
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10211.3/204062
dc.description.abstract Many students from low-income households have experienced acute trauma and experienced life challenges including the seeking of refuge from their home country, homelessness, financial hardship, death or serious injury of immediate family members, and unplanned pregnancy. Most such students lack the resources necessary for mere survival let alone in-school success, with the absence of parental guidance and support a major roadblock in their educational path. Not surprisingly, achievement figures are among this equity group are traditionally far below their peers. These factors beg the question – how can we better engage these learners, improving their outcomes and thus shifting social equity? Experiential Learning is the notion of learning by doing, and it is a model of instruction utilized in different forms in both adolescent and adult education. This this model involves a cyclical pattern of learning concepts, applying knowledge in pragmatic situations, and reflecting on the learning process. Experiential Learning Programs (ELP) are being offered for the third year at Continue 2Learn, a non-classroom-based independent-study charter organization serving over 12,000 students annually – 80 percent socio-economically disadvantaged youth – with learning centers across California. The early success of the experiential learning program indicated that this style of learning could be highly purposeful for schools that serve a high percentage of disenfranchised youth. This study aimed to answer the following research question: Do experiential learning programs quantifiably impact engagement and achievement among socio-economically disadvantaged students in alternative high schools, thus affecting equity in California secondary education? The literature review presents existing research in education relative to the factors impacting the research question. It is organized according to the themes with which the writing most closely connects: 1) Experiential Learning Theory 2) Changing Cognitive Needs in the 21st Century 3) Education Equity and Instructional Reforms 4) Social-Emotional Needs of Disadvantaged Students Overall, inquiry- and project-based learning has been researched at schools that serve mainstream populations. However, there is a lack of research regarding the effectiveness of experiential learning programs at the high school level respect to underserved and underperforming populations. This study will investigate program data that measures experiential learning’s effectiveness as an engaging and supportive model for socio-economically disadvantaged students that have often struggled with traditional learning environments and linear curriculum. The study sought quantitative data that measured the efficacy of the programs. The research accessed data from the following tools: 1) Student Surveys. Likert-style questions are designed to measure the efficacy of the coursework/experiential platform, specifically its ability to engage students and increase achievement. 2) NWEA Standardized Reading Scores (Pre and Post). This is an adaptive test that measures reading comprehension in tiers and can be equated to anticipated ACT and ASBAC scores, as well as likelihood of successfully accessing college-level and technical texts. The study showed that at the two charters – one is Los Angeles and the other in San Diego – a statistically-relevant percentage of socio-economically disadvantaged students enrolled in an experiential learning course experienced significant literacy growth over 12 weeks as evidenced by improvement in RIT scores on a standardized normative assessment. Furthermore, the survey results indicate that a vast majority of these students felt they experienced significant academic and social-emotional growth during the course, which positively impacted their outcomes. The data suggests that that the answer to the research question is affirmative: quantitative evidence shows that experiential learning programs do positively impact student engagement and achievement in alternative high school settings. The research shows that an experiential learning pathway with trauma-informed, project-based curriculum across multiple disciplines can equip students for success in the 21st century by providing organic learning experiences that cyclically connect conceptual knowledge, application of skills, and reflection on the learning process. This study signifies the need for experiential learning programs at alternative school in order to quantifiably increase student engagement and achievement. The research led to the following recommendations for education leaders: 1) Utilization of trauma-informed curriculum and instruction: As research shows the indisputable impact of trauma in the form of adverse childhood experiences on in-school achievement, schools may provide all staff with professional development opportunities focused on trauma-informed practices. 2) Emphasis on social-emotional learning: Students often thrive in safe, collaborative work spaces that foster their social and emotional growth. Socio-economically disadvantaged students often have little time for socialization and even less development of prosocial behaviors. 3) Access to learning-objective aligned field experiences, relevant guest speakers, platforms for presenting evidence of critical thinking and deepened content knowledge. Authentic learning experiences provide students with understanding of real-world application and thus make curriculum more personalized and meaningful. Charter schools originally opened to address shortcomings in performance by traditional public schools. Furthermore, the school choice movement proposed that alternative educational programs, including non-classroom based, independent study charters, provide families with the flexibility necessary to sustain quality of life without sacrificing the education of their children. This is especially applicable to families whose respective incomes fall far below the state median, creating a need for increased reliance on their high school-aged children for assistance in child care and income. Embedding experiential learning programs in alternative instructional pathways supports a mission to inspire students to succeed academically and socially by providing experiential learning in a safe, collaborative environment. Implementing experiential learning programs requires a multi-faceted paradigm shift in regards to educational philosophy. Following these recommendations, education leaders can bridge the gap between socio-economically disadvantaged youth and their non-disadvantaged peers and thus affect equity in California public education. en_US
dc.description.sponsorship Education en_US
dc.language.iso en_US en_US
dc.subject Experiential Learning en_US
dc.subject Socio-Economically Disadvantaged Students en_US
dc.subject Trauma-Informed en_US
dc.title The Impact of Experiential Learning programs on Socio-Economically Disadvantaged High School Students en_US
dc.genre Thesis en_US
dc.contributor.committeemember Peterson, Summer en_US

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