- The Student Recovery Project
- Cynthia K. Buettner (Human Development and Family Science)
- Considering the large number of students who drop out of high school each year, it is imperative
to develop effective and timely prevention strategies that are based on a comprehensive
understanding of the individual and contextual factors contributing to academic disengagement.
While numerous interventions to promote academic connectedness have been implemented with
varying levels of success; the efficacy of a relatively recent and promising approach known as
'Brief Motivational Interviewing', still remains to be tested. To that end, we propose to develop,
implement and evaluate the effectiveness of a behavior-change intervention (based on the
motivational interview model) to promote academic connectedness among at-risk middle school
students, in concert with reducing problem behavior involvement (if any). To develop the
intervention model, the first three phases of our research project will be geared towards
analyzing qualitative and quantitative data collected from a sample of at-risk students (N =100,
Mean age = 18 yrs), currently enrolled in a drop-out prevention and recovery charter school, to
examine in-depth the multi-contextual risk and protective factors associated with academic
disengagement and involvement in co-occurring problem behaviors of substance abuse and
sexual risk-taking. The findings generated will not only help clarify the interplay between
individual, family, school, and community factors that affect student's academic motivation and
engagement, but also, to the extent that our proposed intervention is successful, our results will
inform current intervention strategies and have important policy implications.
- November 2011 - Dr. Buettner conducted focus groups and administered the resulting survey for this project. She also made a presentation at the Center for School Mental Health Conference in September 2011, and wrote a manuscript reporting the results of the study, "Exploring Students' Perceptions of Academic Disengagement and Re-Engagement in a Dropout Recovery Charter School Setting." The paper is currently under review at Children and Schools.