Date of Award


Document type


Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Degree Program

Education (also CAGS)

First Advisor

Robert W. Maloy

Second Advisor

Ruth-Ellen Verock-O'Loughlin

Third Advisor

Leda M. Cooks

Subject Categories



This dissertation studies the impact of two courses, “Rise Up” and “Leadership in Community Service,” at a Level 4 high school in Massachusetts. The school, which had a higher than average level of student dropout, implemented the two courses developed by the researcher to address student retention, academic performance, and connection to school. Students in grades 9-12 took one or both of the semester-long classes, which used community building activities, group discussions, democratic teaching principals, community service–learning, and goal setting to address the needs of marginalized students. Students who participated in the classes showed increased connections to peers, teachers and community members, an improvement in indicators for school retention including grades, behavior, and attendance, and also an increase in their perceptions about their ability to persist in challenging situations.


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