Spring 2017



Degree Name


Primary Advisor/Dissertation Chair

Walter Enloe, PhD

Secondary Advisor/Reader One

Kim Hartung, EdD

Peer-Reviewer/Reader Two

Kaying Xiong, EdD


Student leadership within the elementary school is a newer concept and has not been researched or implemented widely. However, there are some elementary schools that have been developing student leadership. This research focused on gathering the perceptions of elementary school principals toward the role of the school in developing student leadership. This qualitative research followed a grounded theory process. Data collection methods involved gathering data from an online survey, elite interviews, and field observations, which allowed a triangulation of data and findings. Participants from a midwestern metro area were selected for this research based on an online search for schools with terms and phrases related to social emotional learning and student leadership written in the school description, mission, or vision. There were nine school principals who completed the online survey, two principals who participated in elite interviews, and two school sites that participated in the field observations. Findings suggested that several roles and values were important for implementing and sustaining student leadership. Schools developed student leadership when principals aligned resources and provided positive communication, staff and students connected within the community and developed moral identities, and students developed leadership through real-world experiences. Areas for future research include a study on the specific values and beliefs of principals in schools developing student leadership, the specific framework for implementing student leadership and what student leadership opportunities exist in schools, and the impact of student leadership on future ethical leadership.

Research Methodology

Grounded Theory, Interview, Observation, Survey (attitude scale, opinion, questionnaire)


Character Education, Leadership, Student Leadership, Culture and Climate

Included in

Education Commons