Date of Award

Spring 3-2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Education

First Advisor

Dr. Lynda Leavitt

Second Advisor

Dr. Joseph Alsobrook

Third Advisor

Dr. Sherrie Wisdom

Abstract

While many educators viewed transition as a one-time event, it often proved to be more of a process than simply an occasion (Cohen & Smerdon, 2009). The researcher observed through the role as a school counselor that students with high anxiety tended to exhibit low resilience during times of transition. In order to assist students as they moved from eighth to ninth grade, the school of study implemented the Overcoming Obstacles Life Skills Program (OOLSP) using student mentors. This study explored student perception of anxiety and resilience in relation to participating in this program. The researcher utilized the Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale (CD-RISC) and Spence Children’s Anxiety Scale (SCAS) as pre- and post-tests, and conducted a z-test for difference in means analysis. Attendance rates were studied, due to the high correlation found in research between attendance and achievement, using a Pearson Product Moment Correlation analysis. Perception questionnaires were completed in December and May by 287 freshmen, 45 mentor students, 16 teachers, and 315 parents. Interviews were conducted with 10 freshmen, nine student mentors, and six teachers. Results from the surveys and perception questionnaires proved inconsistent. The SCAS scores indicated a significant change in student anxiety levels, especially on the generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and panic disorder subscales. Interestingly, students’ perceived anxiety decreased based on questionnaire responses. Results from the CD-RISC suggested students’ resilience did not change, while responses from the questionnaire showed a significant increase in students’ perceived resilience. Attendance rates had a moderately strong relationship, indicating a correlation between eighth and ninth grade attendance. Perceptions from freshmen, iii student mentors, teachers, and parents suggested that the relationships formed during the program implementation had more influence than the program itself. Based on the inconsistent results, the researcher recommended discontinuing the use of the OOLSP, as it was implemented in this study. The researcher recommended maintaining the mentoring program and improving upon pre-existing structures. Future researchers were encouraged to conduct further exploration on the OOLSP using more traditional implementations, as well as investigating student-perceived anxiety and resilience in comparison to documented experiences of anxiety and resilience.

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