Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Education/Leadership in Urban Schools

First Advisor

Patricia Krueger-Henney

Second Advisor

Abiola Farinde-Wu

Third Advisor

Lorna Rivera


This study sought to understand the problems and gaps associated with the ways “student voice” has been conceptualized and researched in education. It explored previous research conducted in the areas of student engagement, student voice, student agency, and empowerment. In addition, the findings revealed a need for more critical and intersectional research around student voice and agency to amplify the voices of students who have historically not been heard and included in school decision making. As such, this study documented high school students’ experiences with student voice in ways that center their complex identities and privilege the power and possibilities of their voices.

Using a visual action research design, the study brought together six high school and former high school youth for a series of workshops and individual interviews. Youth participants created and shared various visual narratives with the primary researcher and each other to identify and illustrate the ways they had experienced and encountered voice, agency, and empowerment over the course of their high school careers. The study’s research design and findings challenge dominant narratives and applications of language related to voice, agency, and empowerment, arguing for a positioning of youth voice, agency, and empowerment outside the confines of limiting, adult-dominated, and saturated language about how youth participate in their own schooling and learning experiences.


Free and open access to this Campus Access Dissertation is made available to the UMass Boston community by ScholarWorks at UMass Boston. Those not on campus and those without a UMass Boston campus username and password may gain access to this dissertation through resources like Proquest Dissertations & Theses Global or through Interlibrary Loan. If you have a UMass Boston campus username and password and would like to download this work from off-campus, click on the "Off-Campus UMass Boston Users" link above.