School of Education


Doctor of Philosophy in Education (PhD)


Floralba Arbelo Marrerro


at-risk students, high school drop-outs, attachment bonding, mentoring, extra-curricular activities, at-risk factors


Educational Administration and Supervision | Educational Psychology


The purpose of this study was to describe the attachment bonding experiences of at-risk students who graduated high school. The theory guiding this study was the Attachment Theory by John Bowlby. This theory explains how attachment bonds help at-risk individuals form relationships that assist in the development of psychological health. Data collection sources were composed of participant surveys, semi-structured participant interviews, and written letters of advice to other high school at-risk students. The practical significance derived from this study demonstrated the need to train education professionals of the necessity of developing secure attachment bonds with students and to reflectively develop sound pedagogy to assist in this process. The empirical knowledge gained from this study was the importance of positive learning communities. The implication for practice was the need for professionals in the field of education to be given training to better understand the necessity of attachment bonding experiences for at-risk students. The study revealed themes of perseverance, self-motivation, and mentorship. An interesting finding from the study revealed that even though at-risk students greatly benefited from attachment bonds established during participation in extra-curriculum activities, every research participant was forced to withdraw from participation due to the requirement by school administrators to pay for equipment and other costs. This finding was highlighted by the fact that every research participant self-identified as being at-risk of dropping out of high school because of low household income.