Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education



First Advisor

Donna Wagener

Second Advisor

Sherrie Wisdom

Third Advisor

Robyne Elder


At-risk students have been noted to be exposed to high cases of early school dropout, late graduation, poor academic performance, and engagement in risky behaviors, such as drug and substance abuse. While research has reported poor transition to future careers and adult life among at-risk students, little is known regarding intervention programs used in Missouri schools to motivate at-risk students. The objective of this study was to investigate intervention programs being used to retain and engage at-risk middle and high school teenagers in Missouri and identify effective intervention programs that might help promote their success in school and subsequent transition into adulthood. A mixed research design was used with relevant data collected using survey questionnaires, NWEA examination scores, and interviews. A battery of four validated survey questionnaires was used in this study. Results from surveys and findings from interview data showed that intervention programs positively influence the engagement of at-risk teenagers in school. School-based intervention programs facilitate cognitive engagement, effort, persistence, liking for school, love for learning, and engagement in extracurricular activities. Moreover, the use of intervention programs significantly increases the educational aspects of students concerning school through positive motivation to accomplish academic performance, know new concepts, and experience positive simulation. Teachers also use intervention programs to address motivation issues, such as self-doubt and negative perceptions about the need for creating positive perceptions about career prospects. Intervention programs help manage negative exposure to risk factors among at-risk students, such as bullying, fighting, and victimization. Findings also showed that intervention programs positively affect the normative motivation of at-risk students where teaching, coaching, sponsorship, and role modeling help students create a positive career path.


Copyright 2022, Bryan Austin.

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