Date of Award


Degree Type

Thesis (On-Campus Access Only)

First Advisor

Russell Dondero


This study uses the conceptual framework of Elliot Eisner's Connoisseurship and Criticism in order to address the issue of at-risk and drop out students in today's educational system. It consists of interviews with three students: an academically able student, an at-risk student, and a drop out students. The purpose was to learn what motivated students to either achieve or drop out of schools. In this study, I take the social constructivist philosophy and look at the students in the context of their community culture, family background, and school culture in order to see what impacts these have on their decisions to remain in or drop out of school. I found that students' decisions to get their diploma varied based on their individual perceptions of what they needed and the availability of alternative ways to get their diplomas.