School of Education


Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)


Harvey Klamm


Alternative Education, Alternative Learning, Alternative Schools, At-risk Students, Online Learning, Transitions




The purpose of this qualitative transcendental phenomenological research was to describe the experiences of students of alternative North Carolina high schools as they transitioned from traditional conventional high schools to an exclusively online curriculum at alternative high schools and to understand the impact of that educational format on the students’ preparation to succeed as high school graduates. Schlossberg’s (1981) transition theory, grounded on the belief that life changes result in new behaviors and self-perceptions and that individuals differ in their ability to adapt to change, guided this study. Thirteen volunteer graduates from three counties in North Carolina were purposefully selected to participate in this study. Data collection included journal entries, one-on-one interviews, and a focus group activity. The findings included six major themes that collectively tell the story of how these participants found the means to succeed with an online curriculum in an alternative high school setting: On-Site Relational Support; Ability to Focus; One-On-One Instruction; Reduction of Social Anxiety; Self-Pacing and Personal Responsibility; and On-Site Institutional Support. Future research needs to be conducted to broaden the scope of the relevance of the six themes by including the success stories of greater numbers of schools and participants. Research also needs to be conducted to verify the impact of the six themes on schools following implementation of the themes in changing school operations.

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