Concentrate-on-one: an alternative approach to increasing academic and social self-esteem in at-risk students in a high school

TR Number



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Virginia Tech


Educators cannot control who enters the public schools, but they can have an impact on those who do enter. The purpose of this study was to examine how student academic and social self-esteem was affected by a special program for high school students in a rural school district in North Carolina.

Concentrate-on-one was exactly as its name suggests--a program that allowed students to focus on one academic course at a time for a nine-week period. Designed for at-risk students who need extra motivation and a small classroom situation, these courses covered one year of material in three hours per day over nine weeks. At the end of each nine-week period, students rotated to another academic course.

Each teacher requested to participate in the program. Each stated that the opportunity to form a team comprised of optimistic teachers made it inviting. These teachers believed that children should--and could--succeed.

Evaluation of the program was conducted throughout the year. Ten students, four teachers, seven parents, and three other school personnel were interviewed and students were administered the Exploration and Self-Profile three times. Data were managed and analyzed according to the guidelines provided by Merriam (1991) and Ely (1991).

The Exploration and Self-Profile showed that academic self-esteem increased from August 1992 to May 1993 for eight out of ten students. All students interviewed in May had increased positive feelings towards themselves. These positive feelings were accompanied by a reduction of boredom, one academic course each nine weeks, choice in course selection, supportive teachers, a reduction of failure, increased attendance, a sense of a meaningful future, and feelings of success in mathematics.

The Exploration and Self-Profile showed that social self-esteem increased from August 1992 to May 1993 for nine out of ten students. All ten students expressed positive social self-esteem through the interviews. Positive interactions, feelings of increased self-worth, and student maturity all brought forth positive changes.



academic, social, self-esteem, at-risk students, high school