The Effects of an Intensive General Thinking Program on the Motivation and Cognitive Development of At-Risk Students: Findings From the HOTS Program
Stanley Pogrow Gary Londer
University of Arizona, Tucson
One of the biggest social programs facing the United States is how to solve the problem of the at-risk student. Despite major increases in educational funding, and despite increased knowledge about the nature of learning, there are a substantial number of students in public education, particularly in urban areas, that continue to fail. Levin ( 1986) estimates that disadvantaged students accounted for 30% of elementary and secondary students in 1982, and that percentage is increasing. It is significantly higher in urban districts. Macchiarola ( 1988) found the dropout rate to be 45% in New York City Public Schools. The rates are significantly higher in the poor sections of the city. In Los Angeles, 19% of the Black and Hispanic students were left back a year in 1984-1985 ( Orfield, 1988). Schmidt ( 1992) cites 1990 census data as showing that more children than ever are falling behind grade level.
There are myriad reasons for the failures of these students and the schools that they attend. It is not known whether educational interventions by themselves can make a substantial dent in the problem of the at-risk student. At the same time, it is clear that the typical at-risk student suffers from major learning and motivational problems. It is also clear that, given the severity of the students' problem, for any educational intervention to have major effects it must be carefully designed, highly systematic and creative, and provide extensive services. The Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) program is an attempt to design such an intervention. Indeed, there are few such programmatic efforts that provide researchers with an opportunity to study the effects of extended, intensive learning environments on the motivation and cognitive development of at-risk students.
This chapter focuses on conclusions about the nature of motivation and cognitive development that have been observed from experience with the HOTS pro