Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

Ed.D. Educational Leadership


Educational Services and Leadership


College of Education


McCombs, Tyrone

Committee Member 1

Coaxum, James

Committee Member 2

McCargo, Donavan


leadership identity, student engagement, student leadership, student voice


Development leadership--New Jersey; Mentoring in education


Elementary and Middle and Secondary Education Administration


Schools that invest in building leadership capacity among students realize that learning and leading cannot be separated (Lambert, 2003). This action research study explored the developmental leadership experiences of urban minority students at Aesculapian High School in New Jersey. The study involved a learning community of 20 members from the National Honor Society and five faculty members who served as mentors. The purpose of the study was to determine what leadership skills and qualities along with learning and social needs students perceived were valuable to increase student engagement. Student leadership development was integrated into the curriculum and administered following Kouzes and Posner’s (2008) model of the Student Leadership Challenge in an effort to build leadership capacity. The conceptual framework for the study utilized the Student Leadership Challenge model in conjunction with the theories of leadership identity, student voice and meaningful student involvement as concepts for building and developing leadership in high school students to increase student engagement.

This action research study provided insight into how the students constructed new knowledge and understandings about their leadership abilities utilizing data collected from qualitative surveys, instructional assessments, focus group interviews, observations, field notes and journals. The data and findings from this study documented how the student participants applied their acquired skills to become further engaged and lead other students to become involved in meaningful ways within the school environment. The study provided an understanding of how leadership skills can be effectively developed and enhanced in high school honor students and the actions produced as a result of their learning. The responsibility of initiating, developing, planning, organizing, and achieving outcomes shifted from teachers and advisors to the students, thereby labeling them leaders.