Date of Paper


Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)


Social Work

First Advisor

Michael Chovanec


Social Work


This systematic literature review aims to introduce an innovative method of qualitative data analysis to the sparse empirical research of high school dropout prevention efforts. Through a framework of social capital theory, this study explores the social factors connected to at-risk schools and students. For decades, high school dropout and graduation has been a national focus. However, uncovering empirical studies evaluating the effectiveness of coordinated efforts is rare. This systematic literature serves two purposes, to fill gaps in the literature, and to integrate an innovative evaluation method for dropout prevention efforts. With a systematic literature review method, seven databases that embody various disciplines were explored. The literature search and data analysis sought to unveil empirical research and additionally, any innovative efforts being made in addressing poor school performance. Of 2,744 search results, 18 studies met inclusion criteria. This study highlights the social factors contributing to and preventing dropout. Data from the included studies and programs were compared to the concepts of bonding and bridging social capital. The findings suggest that research of dropout prevention programs lack empirical methodology, lack appreciation for social factors, produce mixed results, and don’t share any innovative theoretical frameworks. No studies or programs appeared to measure, analyze, or target in-depth social factors impacting the school, student population, or families.

Included in

Social Work Commons