The effects of peer counseling on at-risk high school youth

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Educational Leadership

First Committee Member

John H. Croghan - Committee Chair


The purpose of this study was to determine what effects, if any, participation in a peer counseling program had on the self-esteem, grade point averages, absences, and discipline referrals of a group of 43 at-risk ninth grade students over a three-year period at a comprehensive high school in southwest Florida.Twelfth grade peer counselors and ninth grade counselees were enrolled in a peer counseling course with a prescribed curriculum and professional instructors to facilitate the helping relationship between peers. Primary goals of the program were to strengthen student self-esteem, improve grades, and reduce absences and discipline referrals by providing supportive counseling and direction, tutoring, role modeling, and friendship. Over a three-year period the Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory (CSEI) was used for pre- and post-testing subjects at the beginning and end of their freshman year to determine changes in self-esteem during the treatment period. Data on grade point averages, absences, and discipline referrals were collected and grouped for analysis using a series of paired, within-group, repeated measure t-tests with a single sample of subjects. Two-tailed tests and an alpha level of.05 were used for statistical analysis.Findings revealed differences in pre- and post-CSEI total scores of 2.32 with a probability level of.30. Results did not indicate a statistically significant change. The mean difference in GPA's at pre- and post-treatment was.09 with a probability level of.03. This increase was statistically significant and was unlikely to have occurred by chance. Mean difference in absences from pre- to post-intervention was $-$3.81 with a probability level of.01. The number of absences of participants was significantly less at the conclusion of the treatment period and is unlikely to have occurred by chance. Pre- and post-mean difference in discipline referrals was $-$.93; the probability level was.07. The difference was not statistically significant, and the probability this difference occurred by chance is unacceptably high.


Education, Guidance and Counseling; Education, Secondary; Psychology, Developmental; Education, Philosophy of

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