Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Leadership and Policy Studies


Educational Leadership

Committee Chair

Reginald L. Green

Committee Member

Larry McNeal

Committee Member

Louis A. Franceschini

Committee Member

Lauren Burrow


Gilmore, Margaret Ann. Ed.D. The University of Memphis, August, 2014. A Comparative Analysis of the Peak Experiences of Eleventh Grade Students Who Are And Are Not On Track For Graduation. Major Professor: Reginald L. Green, Ed.D.A critical issue that is facing American education today is the problem of the percentage of high school dropouts. A growing number of students are dropping out of school each year and negatively impacting society as a whole. Exposures of lagging graduation rates and early dropouts numbers have sparked renewed interest in the dropout problem our nation is facing. However, few studies have focused on emotional, social, and intellectual peak experiences as a platform to promote student engagement and keep students on track for graduation. The purpose of this quantitative study was to investigate peak experiences that kept students committed to graduating from high school and practices and programs that research revealed kept students on track to graduate. Specifically, the purpose of this study was threefold: (1) to ascertain peak experiences of eleventh grade students who are on track to graduate from high school, and those who are not on track to graduate; (2) to determine if there is a relationship between the grade point average, gender, and ethnicity and number of peak experiences of eleventh grade students on track for graduation and those not on track; and (3) to examine if students who are on track for graduation tend to have more peak experiences that are categorized as emotional, social, and intellectual peak experiences than those who are not on track for graduation?The 5-item questionnaire was used to solicit responses from two groups of students: eleventh graders on track and not on track for high school graduation. Based on the findings, 13 peak experiences were of significant interest to students on track for graduation, and showed a significant difference in the number of students on track for graduation and those who were not. The peak experiences that were frequently selected by students on track to graduate were: (1) doing classwork that is relevant, meaningful, and worthy of my time and attention; (2) making good grades in school; (3) having teachers who make sure I understand all assignments; (4) being in classrooms in which there is trust and respect between teacher and students; (5) having caring teachers; (6) having supportive parents; (7) being part of a school that has a positive climate and effective discipline; (8) feeling a sense of belonging in school; (9) being accepted by my peers; (10) being recognized at school for making good grades; (11) being involved in school clubs; (12)volunteering for community service; and (13) taking challenging classes. The data analysis revealed that evidence of activities and peak experiences kept these students on track to graduate from high school. Additionally, the data revealed that not only do intellectual factors keep students engaged in school, but emotional and social factors were contributors to students being on track for graduation. Ethnicity tended not to be a factor in the number of students’ peak experiences. The conclusions from this study presented evidence of peak experiences that surfaced in the literature and kept students on track to graduate from high school. These results can help schools and districts with lagging graduation rates recognize the impact social, emotional, and intellectual peak experiences have on students’ ability to stay on track to graduate from high school.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.