Preprint Review Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

(Re)conceptualising Risk: What (Seems to) Work for At-Risk Students

Version 1 : Received: 14 July 2016 / Approved: 14 July 2016 / Online: 14 July 2016 (11:03:29 CEST)

A peer-reviewed article of this Preprint also exists.

Zyngier, D. Left Numb and Unengaged. (Re)Conceptualising Risk: What (Seems to) Work for at-Risk Students. Soc. Sci. 2017, 6, 32. Zyngier, D. Left Numb and Unengaged. (Re)Conceptualising Risk: What (Seems to) Work for at-Risk Students. Soc. Sci. 2017, 6, 32.


This review of current research into at-risk programs serves to categorise and characterise existing programs and to evaluate the contribution of these programs to assisting students at-risk from marginalised backgrounds. This characterisation questions the (sometimes) implicit assumptions and the consequences of those assumptions inherent in and behind these various accounts. This involves a synthesis and reformulation, based on epistemological standpoints, both explicit and implied, of the various researchers. Using as a lens the (various and varied) understandings of social justice and the goals of education (Gale & Densmore, 2000; 2003) I identify three sometimes overlapping and sometimes contesting standpoints in relation to at-risk students, characterised as instrumentalist or rational technical, social constructivist or individualist and critical transformative or empowering. I argue that programs ‘which simply seek to achieve change in the individual young people are doomed to failure’ (Stewart, 1998, 4) and that a critical transformative understanding of at-risk may deliver improved outcomes for young people by challenging ‘the school context in which the young people are located’ (Stewart, 1998, 4).


student risk; social justice; critical pedagogy; critical pedagogy


Social Sciences, Education

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