Students' self -concept related to an alternative high school experience

Jennifer M Clair-Bolich, Pace University


Research shows that some students need nontraditional settings in order to learn. Alternative schools were developed to meet the needs of at-risk students who have difficulty learning in the traditional setting. In order to examine the effectiveness of alternative schools, many factors need to be considered. One of those factors is student self-concept. This study examined at-risk students' self-concept related to an alternative high school experience. Participants in the present study included 89 at-risk students in one alternative high school program. The students' self-concept was measured by the Piers Harris Children's Self-Concept Scale, Second Edition (Piers, 2002), administered once in September 2002 and again in December 2002. The relationship of students' self-concept to school status (new or returning student), age, gender, and ethnicity was examined. Results reveal that, in September 2002, returning alternative high school students had higher Overall Self-Concept, Intellectual and School Status, Physical Appearance and Attributes, and Popularity Piers-Harris-2 scores than new alternative school students. However, Piers-Harris-2 Behavioral Adjustment, Freedom From Anxiety, and Happiness and Satisfaction scores were not significantly different between returning and new students in September 2002. At the end of December 2002, returning students had higher Physical Appearance and Attributes scores than new students. There were no significant differences between new and returning students on the other Piers-Harris-2 self-concept scales at the end of December 2002. When examining change in the alternative high school students' self-concept over time, students' Physical Appearance and Attributes Piers-Harris-2 scores significantly increased from September to December 2002. However, none of the other self-concept scores significantly changed between the two administrations of the Piers-Harris-2. Results also show that new students' Overall Self-Concept and Intellectual and School Status scores increased, while returning students' scores decreased on these two scales from September to December 2002. There were no significant differences in the change of the self-concept scores when examining age, gender, or ethnicity. Results reveal, however, that male students had higher Freedom From Anxiety and Popularity scores than female students on the Piers-Harris-2. The results of the current study indicate that further research of alternative schools is necessary to determine if these programs are effective in improving students' self-concept, academic achievement, and chances of graduating from high school.

Subject Area

Secondary education|Curricula|Teaching|Psychotherapy

Recommended Citation

Clair-Bolich, Jennifer M, "Students' self -concept related to an alternative high school experience" (2005). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI3175084.



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