Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation


Educational Leadership and Policies


Educational Administration

First Advisor

Harrill, Lynn


More than twenty-five years after the release of A Nation at Risk, our federal government continues to explore innovative ways to close the achievement gap. The goal of this phenomenological study was to describe four students' experiences with one school choice option in South Carolina, public Montessori. The purpose of the study was to describe the lived Montessori experiences of participants and my interpretation of their developed academic self-efficacy. This qualitative investigation described the various perspectives of students' Montessori experiences and interpreted those experiences through the lens of concepts associated with Albert Bandura's (1986) notion of self-efficacy. According to Bandura's theoretical framework, there are four tenets of social cognitive theory, which assist in the development or improvement of a person's self-efficacy: mastery experiences, vicarious experiences, social persuasion, and physiological response. After analyzing participants' textural descriptions, three major themes were constructed through narrative analysis, including: self-reliance, leadership, and reciprocity. These themes manifested across participants' narratives; therefore, a more comprehensive understanding of the essence of their experience was written to provide school and district leaders with additional insight into more innovative approaches for educating all students. In addition, policy implications and recommendations for future research were discussed.


© 2010, Molly McHugh Smith