Exploring Alternative High Schools: Does Emotional Intelligence Matter?

Student Author(s)

Barbara Bollhoffer
Grace Horn

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Laura Pardo

Document Type


Event Date



In this multi-year, qualitative study, we explored local alternative high schools to see how adding the component, Emotional Intelligence (EI) to a school’s curriculum affected the learning environment for students who attended these schools. In this phase of the project, we worked with the students and teachers at Pioneer Tech High School, an alternative high school operated by Hamilton Schools. We created an observation protocol based on Daniel Goleman’s 2005 book: Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, and on an extensive literature review on successful alternative high schools. We observed classes during the school day at Pioneer Tech to determine when and to what extent the school implemented the variables of a successful alternative school and EI. The data sources analyzed for this presentation included the observation protocol, observation field notes, interviews with students and school staff, and focus group conversations. Initial findings will inform the next phase of the project, the design and implementation of an EI framework developed collaboratively with the research team and the staff at Pioneer Tech.

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