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Hope as Strategy: The Effectiveness of an Innovation of the Mind

Authors:
  • Urban Discovery Schools

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Students may be situated within complex systems that are nested within each other. This complexity may also envelop institutional structures that lead to the socio-economic reification of student post-secondary opportunities by obscuring positive goals. This may be confounded by community misunderstandings about the changed world that students are entering. These changes include social and economic factors that impact personal and economic freedoms, our ability to live at peace, and the continuing trend of students graduating high school underprepared. Building on previous cycles of action research, this multi-strand mixed-methods study examined the effects of the innovation of the I am College and Career Ready Student Support Program (iCCR). The innovation was collaboratively developed and implemented over a 16-week period using a participatory action research approach. The situated context of this study was a new high school in the urban center of San Diego, California. The innovation included a student program administered during an advisory period and a parent education program. Qualitative research used a critical ethnographic design that analyzed data from artifacts, journals, notes, and the interviews of students (n = 8), parents (n = 6), and teachers (n = 5). Quantitative research included the analysis of data from surveys administered to inform the development of the innovation (n = 112), to measure learning of parent workshop participants (n = 10), and to measure learning, hope, and attitudinal disposition of student participants (n = 49). Triangulation was used to answer the studies’ four research questions. Triangulated findings were subjected to the method of crystallization to search for hidden meanings and multiple truths. Findings included the importance of parent involvement, the influence of positive goals, relational implications of goal setting and pathway knowledge on agentic thinking, and that teacher implementation of the innovation may have influenced student hope levels. This study argued for a grounded theory situated within a theoretical framework based upon Snyder’s Hope Theory and Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological System Theory. This argument asserted that influence on pathway and agency occurred at levels of high proximal process with the influence of goal setting occurring at levels of lower proximal process.
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