Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Morgridge College of Education

First Advisor

Bruce Uhrmacher, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Cynthia McRae

Third Advisor

Sandra Dixon

Fourth Advisor

Sara Salmon


Adolescents, Correctional, Development, Eisner, Positive, Youth


There is a worldwide call for alternatives to current systems focused on restorative justice. The United States currently has a process but no plan in implementing effective programs for rehabilitating youth offenders. For many years, the prevailing idea in youth corrections has been that nothing works as studies continued to have difficulty pinpointing effective programs. Yet, over the last several decades, prison populations have risen dramatically, as have penal housing costs.

Positive Youth Development (PYD) offers a different framework focused on developing youth assets and promoting positive adolescent development. Derived from research in behavioral sciences, PYD programs promote the development of the five C's: competencies, character, connection, confidence, and caring/compassion. Three additional PYD elements are held in common: a focus on developing strengths instead of targeting deficits, the promotion of prosocial relationships, and the use of multiple contexts and environments for adolescent development.

This study examines a unique Denver Public charter high school/ youth correctional program currently embracing PYD in Watkins, Colorado: Ridge View Academy. The goal of the study is to answer four research questions regarding implementing PYD in a correctional facility: 1.What does Positive Youth Development look like in a correctional setting? 2. What are the intentions of a Positive Youth Development teacher in a correctional setting? 3. How are those intentions revealed in that teacher's practice? 4. What is the significance of the theories and practices ofPositive Youth Development teachers in a correctional setting for education and society in general? This study found common themes in each teacher's classroom in the intentional, structural, and curricular domains. The research found commonalities in the teachers' intentions when working with the adjudicated youth.

In summary, PYD was found to be an appropriate and effective for framework for working with correctional youth. Furthermore, the study found the teachers' intentions to be a significant factor in their motivation to engage in their PYD practice and reach students. The study suggests a need for further research into the system-wide PYD program at Ridge View Academy or at any other sites where PYD is used as a framework for developing at-risk adolescents.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Edward Anthony Cope


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

222 p.


Curriculum development