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Date of Award

Summer 6-14-2019

Author Requested Restriction

Open Access (no restriction)

Work Type

Dissertation in Practice

Degree Name

Doctor of Educational Leadership (EdD)


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Feuerborn, Laura

Second Advisor

Montgomery, Michelle

Third Advisor

MacFarland, Amy



Social emotional learning (SEL) is a proven effective tool in instructing students in managing their emotions. Public schools are beginning to understand the importance of SEL programming, because in addition to academic skills development, the critical focus of SEL programs are the social emotional competencies that are essential to student development. SEL provides a level of emotional support that works in consort with academic, student behavior, and emotional management that foster a productive community of learners. In order to create that effective model of enmeshment among student academic, behavior, and emotional learning, it is imperative that all who facilitate learning among students must have an understanding of the cultural dynamics and experiences (student voice) that students are arriving with when they enter the school buildings. The purpose of this study was to develop the process to capture and incorporate student voice from an indigenous (native American) student population into a social emotional learning program to meet the cultural context of the students being served. This study used Bernal’s ecological validity model (EVM) as a framework to incorporate student voice into a SEL program. Three ninth grade classes of native American students participated in the study. The native American focus was an important area because there is no study to date that explores the native culture (student voice) and then creates a process to incorporate their cultural experiences as an integral part of a SEL program. The results of the study indicated significant positive impact when SEL was introduced to ninth grade students as an intervention. The findings were discussed through the lens of the importance of the process to incorporate student voice into SEL. The study explored current impact and future implications of long-term gains when student voice (their cultural experiences) becomes a fundamental aspect of the SEL framework.