Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Morgridge College of Education, Teaching and Learning Sciences, Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Garrett Roberts, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Alvaro Arias, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Richard Kitchen


Equity, School reform, Student engagement, Student voice, Urban education


The purpose of this qualitative, collective case study was to explore urban high school student and teacher perceptions of student voice, specifically in the areas of partnership, activism and leadership. This study addresses the Civic Opportunity Gap, which impacts urban youth and the disjuncture between the civic ideals of the United States and their day-to-day experiences within the civic institutions that shape their lives. This study was designed to examine the following three questions: What opportunities exist within the urban high school setting for partnership, activism and leadership? What are the perceived barriers that influence opportunities for partnership, activism and leadership? What is the significance of maximizing partnership, activism and leadership for students, teachers and administrators in urban high schools? A large urban high school in the Denver Metropolitan area was chosen for this study. Students were selected by purposeful stratified sampling, from three classes, Civics, American Government and Advanced Placement Computer Science. Six to twelve students comprised three focus groups, consisting of an equal balance of males and females, and ethnicities including at least one from the following sub-groups, Caucasian, black, Asian and Hispanic for a diverse sample. The teachers selected for the study were recommended by the site principal, and also demonstrated an interest in the study. They participated in individual interviews. These were the teachers of the classes from which the student sample was chosen. The data collected was analyzed and coded for reoccurring themes. Three critical themes emerged regarding the significance of maximizing partnership, activism and leadership. In order to effectively enact opportunities for partnership, activism and leadership, the students and teachers similarly reported the importance of (1) understanding what type of support students need, (2) openness to input and feedback from students and (3) advocacy and belief in student capacity. Student voice, specifically partnership, activism and leadership has been linked to increasing ownership and motivation for students. Educators in urban schools would be well served to include opportunities in their courses for partnership, activism and leadership.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Brian Eric Duwe


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

176 p.


Curriculum development