An Exploration of Exposure to Music in High School Males in Appalachian Ohio

Cassandra McDonald

Abstract

Abstract

Even with increasing availability of alternative educational systems, individual learning plans, and vocational schools, the high school dropout rate among males is still rising. High school dropouts have a negative effect on a community because their chances of being employed and contributing to the community are reduced. The theoretical frameworks of multiple intelligences, self-efficacy, and developmental constructivism were used to conduct a hermeneutical phenomenological study of the lived experiences of a specific population of male youth in rural Ohio who decided to return to school and complete the requirements for a high school diploma or GED after being exposed to music education. The specific focus of inquiry was on the role that their musical education or exposure to music, as a means of developing and accessing an alternative way of learning, might have played in their decisions. A purposive sample of seven males ages 18–22 years who had dropped out of school and subsequently returned to complete their GED participated in the study. Data were collected in semi-structured interviews and analyzed using hermeneutical phenomenological content analysis, validated by independent peer review. Findings from the study indicated that music played a key role in participants’ lives as a stress reducer, and music education escalated feelings of self-worth, contributing to ability to focus on their GED completion. This study impacts social change by identifying previously undervalued strategies to support young men returning to complete high school or GED education.