Students' Perceived Needs as Identified by Students: Perceptions and Implications

By Lawrence, William W.; Jones, Enid et al. | Journal of Instructional Psychology, March 1999 | Go to article overview
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Students' Perceived Needs as Identified by Students: Perceptions and Implications


Lawrence, William W., Jones, Enid, Smith, Frederick W., Journal of Instructional Psychology


This study surveyed the needs of young people and how young people thought their needs could be best met. A second objective of the study was to compare what young people thought adults would say about their needs and how they could be best met. The results of the study showed that young people identified their greatest needs as the "need to be loved", the "need for someone to listen", and the "need for acceptance", and that needs could be best met by having good parents, the church and friends. Young people believed adults would say that their greatest needs were "need for spiritual guidance", "need for leadership", and "need for discipline" and that the needs could be best met by "strong role models", "good problem solving skills", and "good religious training".

It is one thing to survey adults as to the needs of students and quite another to give the students themselves an opportunity to say what they perceive their greatest needs to be. Researchers have written about adolescents (Gainer, 1992, Small and Hug, 1991, Jones, 1994, Ralter, 1995 and Trump and Huff, 1996) concerning needs and ways of coping with those needs. Yet when one listens to the daily news, reads the newspaper, watches television, or visits different schools, the message one gets is that the needs of some young people are not being adequately met. Therefore, the issue of better meeting youths' needs should become an issue of great concern for parents, educators, politicians, citizens, the schools, and the community.

As education moves toward the twenty first century, it faces many challenges. Some plans are being put in place to assist in meeting or combating those challenges. (National Goal for Educators, 1990) Different educational and sociological committees are being formed, different educational and sociological forums are being held, budget and financial issues are being discussed and school restructuring is being advocated. These are perhaps good strategies for addressing some of the needs of American youth, providing current and future needs are being correctly identified. On the other hand, these strategies may not have any significant advantages over the things that are currently being done if we have failed or inappropriately identified the real needs of young people.

Purpose of the Study

The objectives of this study were as following:

1. to determine what students perceived as their greatest needs.

2. to determine what organizations or groups students felt could best help them meet their needs.

3. to compare what students thought adults would identify as important needs of young people with the important needs identified by students.

4. to compare how students thought adults felt the needs of young people could be met with how the students felt their needs could be met.

Methodology

The population for this study consisted of high school students from nine counties throughout the middle and southeastern parts of North Carolina. Counties involved in the study were: Brunswick, Columbus, Cumberland, Hoke, Johnston, Moore, Richmond, Roberson, and Sampson. These counties were chosen because these were the counties where students enrolled in a research course would be doing their administrative internships the following semester.

The procedure used to select subjects was a stratified quota process; in that an effort was made to get a representation of all students in the population. There were a total of 1,066 subjects in the sample with 586 (55%) being female and 480 (45%) being male. The racial breakdown of the sample was 394 (37%) Black (African Americans), 522 (49%) White, 43 (4%) Hispanic, 96 (9%) Native Americans and 11 (1%) other.

The subjects were from grades 9 - 12 and enrolled in English classes in different schools throughout the nine counties. The ages ranged from 14 - 19 years. Two Hundred Seventy Two (272) (25.5%) of the subjects were ninth graders, 280 (26.

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