Origins of the Hemingway

In 1994 Brad Powell and Father Patrick Gahan, at Saint Stephen’s Episcopal School in Austin, Texas, asked the measure’s creator, Michael Karcher, to develop an instrument that could help them assess changes resulting from a mentoring program they were developing in their school. As a result of their encouragement, a six year project of measurement development began. The measure’s items were derived from two literatures, one describing antecedents of academic achievement and the other one reviewing risk-taking and problem behaviors. The main concept of connectedness was derived from a 1991 paper by Michael Nakkula and Robert Selman, both of whom were Karcher’s academic mentors at Harvard. Nakkula's notion of youth development suggests that programs serve to promote the youth’s “interpretation of his or her connectedness to the world over time.” This suggestion served as the basis of the Hemingway and guided the development of adolescent connectedness theory (Karcher, 2000b).

The name, Hemingway, also has its origin in the biography of Michael Nakkula. The first son of a blue collar family in the upper peninsula of Michigan, Michael Nakkula was the first person in his family to go to college. Nakkula’s subsequent attainment of a professorship at Harvard led Karcher to ask him how he understood his academic achievements. Nakkula explained his connectedness to academe through a story about a high school teacher, who, after reading a paper Nakkula wrote for a class assignment, told Nakkula that he wrote like Hemingway. This interpretation of Nakkula’s potential, in addition to Nakkula’s family support, intellectual strengths, and ability to develop meaningful connections with others, seemed to explain his achievement very well. In honor of that high school teacher’s impact, this measure of adolescent connectedness was named the Hemingway.