Redefining student identity: Therapeutic intervention in the comprehensive high school

Amy Maisterra, University of Pennsylvania


The purpose of this study is to evaluate the impact of a therapeutic intervention model on the behavior, academic achievement, and degree of transition success of incoming 9th grade students with a history of school failure. This intervention model is premised upon the fact that successful transition to high school is particularly challenging for students with histories of school failure, and that a critical component of changing these students' trajectories is the ability of youth to "rewrite" their relationships to school. In this model, a social work services coordinator and interdisciplinary intern team (social work and counseling) will be integrated into the existing counseling team at each participating high school. The team will implement a therapeutic intervention model that is based in narrative therapy and is designed to assist students in redefining their academic identity by "re-authoring" their stories, thereby challenging negative assumptions that both they and significant adults may have made regarding their potential. The study will utilize a random assignment design to assess the effectiveness of the model, and students placed at risk will be eligible to participate in the clinical intervention. Both qualitative and quantitative measures will be used to understand the efficacy of the different components of the intervention and its effects on students. Students in both the treatment and control groups will be administered the Piers-Harris Survey of Self-Concept both before and after the treatment period. Additionally, the social work services coordinators, interdisciplinary intern teams, and a subset of the students will be interviewed about their experiences. As a result of this study, the merit of implementing this model of targeted support at the ninth grade level in large urban high schools will be evaluated, and a rigorous evaluation design will support the identification of successful program elements that merit further replication.

Subject Area

Academic guidance counseling|Educational psychology|Developmental psychology

Recommended Citation

Maisterra, Amy, "Redefining student identity: Therapeutic intervention in the comprehensive high school" (2007). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3270870.