Extended learning opportunities in New Hampshire: an exploration of high school students' perspectives and lived experiences

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Robinson, Bonnie Barstow
This dissertation examines the perceptions and lived experiences of high school students who have completed Extended Learning Opportunities in New Hampshire. Extended Learning Opportunities are defined as learning that occurs outside of the traditional classroom. The New Hampshire Department of Education changed its Minimum Standards for Public School Approval in 2005, and since that time, students have been eligible to earn high school credit for internships, apprenticeships, independent studies, community service, private instruction, sports, and performing groups through demonstration of mastery of academic competencies. Since very little has been written from the students' points of view regarding Extended Learning Opportunities, this hermeneutic phenomenological research study explored the perceptions and lived experiences of the students themselves. Data was collected from interviews, field notes, and artifacts and the analysis resulted in four significant themes: Relationships, Academic Freedom, Sense of Accomplishment and Connections to Life After High School. These findings shed light on the transformative and personalized benefits of Extended Learning Opportunities.