Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

EdD Doctor of Education


Educational Services and Leadership


College of Education


Manning, JoAnn B.

Committee Member 1

Mitani, Hajime

Committee Member 2

Sun, Anna Q.


Alternative Education, Constructivist Learning Theory, Organizational Theory, Self-Efficacy, Self-Efficacy Theory


Alternative education; Dropouts--Prevention


Secondary Education


The need for a high school diploma or equivalent is a social justice concern as the consequences of not earning a diploma or equivalent degree are lower income, higher crime rates, and poorer health (McClatchy, 2013; NCES, 2015; NCES, 2017; Freudenberg & Ruglis, 2007; Thrane, 2006). The median earnings of young adults with a high school diploma and young adults with a bachelor's degree were 22 and 100 percent higher respectively than those of young adults without a high school diploma. Additionally, lower levels of educational attainment are related to higher rates of arrests and incarceration (Eby, 2013). Lower levels of educational attainment are also associated with higher levels of risky health behaviors (Freudenberg & Ruglis, 2007; Thrane, 2006). In addition to the social justice need for a high school diploma, the experiences of alternative education students and organization of school impact student self-efficacy levels. A high level of self-efficacy is coupled with enhanced resilience, increased positive self-image, and prosocial behavior such as being helpful and selfless (Diekstra, 2008; O'Conner et al., 2017). Additionally, high levels of self-efficacy lead to reducing violence and improving grades and test scores in school (Diekstra, 2008; O'Conner et al., 2017; Price, Biehl, Solomon, & Weir, 2014). The key themes of this study are which experiential (student prior knowledge, student sense of belonging, teacher pedagogy, extracurricular activities) and organizational (class size, time of day school occurs, flexible student schedules, leadership practices) factors relate to student self-efficacy levels. Better understanding the self-efficacy of students participating in alternative education programs could advance policies, practice and future research aimed at improving influential leadership practices.