Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctorate of Education, Ed.D.


College of Education



First Advisor

Chris Jenkins, Ed.D.

Second Advisor

Chalres Bindig, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

Patricia Akojie, PH.D.


The One-Size-Fits-All approach used by public schools in the United States to reduce inappropriate behaviors known as In School Suspension (ISS) has proven to be ineffective and deleterious to at risk special population students. This action research study, which utilized qualitative data, was designed to bring further understanding of this social behavioral problem. Most important to the study, was the specific examination of the use of art-related contingency contracts, whereby students were able to learn art-related skills, and by which rewards were given to students who were able to stay referral free. There have been studies in a few of today’s most progressive schools, in which researchers and educators have shown improvements in at risk students’ academic performance incorporating the arts in teaching the curricula. However, there have been no studies that this investigator has found, in which researchers make a connection between how an art-related program which utilizes contingency contracts affects at risk students’ behavior. The focus of this study is therefore to explore the possibility of utilizing the arts and contingency contracts to improve at risk students’ behavior. The data was drawn from interviews following each of two iterative action cycles, questionnaires, and member-checking forms over a period of five months, including a debriefing interview at the conclusion of the study. The study involved eleven teachers, one counselor, one administrator, and thirteen student participants. The over-all consensus of the participants was that this type of art-related intervention, utilizing positive reinforcement instead of the punitive and exclusionary procedure known as ISS, clearly demonstrated an improvement in at risk students’ self-esteem and self-image resulting in improved behaviors.

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