Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Leadership and Counseling

Committee Member

David Anderson

Committee Member

Phillip Cardon

Committee Member

Murali Nair

Committee Member

Ronald Williamson


How do educators engage students in the curriculum? State and Common Core Standards determine what to teach; how those standards are taught varies. This research examined a group of at-risk elementary and secondary students using underwater Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) as part of an experiential education program in a rural Michigan school district. With a foundation of grounded theory, qualitative methods are used in this case study of the experience of at-risk learners whose mission is to solve a problem. In particular, the story evolves from nine emergent themes identified in the experiences of students and adults: attendance, communication, confidence, engagement, fun, problem-solving, responsibility, teamwork, and time. Common across the nine themes is the conclusion that student motivation strongly impacts learning that is perceived to be hands-on and relevant.

Included in

Counseling Commons