Making connections with students in at-risk situations : reflections and interpretations
The students and teachers who provided data for this study were participants in school dropout prevention programs in the province of New Brunswick, Canada. The research was initiated to identify the strategies used by those teachers who are viewed to be effective in their work with students in at-risk situations. The study evolved as an interpretative account of the teachers' reflections. The multiple roles of the researcher in the pursuit of action research were explored, and the reciprocal interaction of the researcher with the research was recognized. The processes used to formulate and examine themes in the teachers' stories were given detailed explanations. These approaches were compared with the methodologies reported in the literature on qualitative research. In addition to using the techniques of grounded theorizing, biographical readings were undertaken to present a holistic perspective of the stories given by individual teachers. An emphasis on the teachers' stories precluded extensive examination of the students' accounts, but illustrations were provided of the students' statements corroborating the teachers' reflections. As well as references to the substantive literature on students in at-risk situations, the data were considered in respect to psychological, sociological, anthropological and philosophical theories. The theories that developed from this study were presented in relation to formal theories. The noted implications included actual classroom applications as well as suggestions for teacher preservice and inservice training and proposals for future research.