High-Risk College Students May Recognize Own Strengths Earlier Than Students of Higher Privilege According to Colorado State Research

College students labeled as high-risk may recognize their own strengths and take charge of their decisions more quickly than students who have a higher level of privilege, according to a study that will be discussed Thursday. The study, conducted by BethRene Roepnack as her doctoral of philosophy dissertation at Colorado State University, will be presented at 2 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28, in room 234 of the Education Building on campus.

The study explores the possibility that college students labeled high-risk are often able to develop their internal power earlier than college students who are labeled high privilege. "Internal power" is defined as the ability to recognize one’s power to define one’s self and one’s world, to create and alter the meaning of one’s experiences, attitudes, beliefs and values without accepting limits from others or being defined by them.

"College students labeled high-risk are often seen in terms of their deficiencies," Roepnack said. "Because students labeled high-risk were found to develop self-authorship – a construct related to internal power – earlier than students considered more privileged, it is thought that students labeled high-risk might also recognize their internal power sooner."

      As part of the study, Roepnack talked about internal power with 10 college students who were labeled high-risk. Her findings show that challenging situations pushed the high-risk students into making decisions based on their own attitudes, values and meanings. Most of the participants found that they enjoyed these challenges and learned more about themselves during them.

     The implications of Roepnack’s findings and their impact on teaching and learning will be discussed.