Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)

Degree Level



Curriculum and Instruction


John Pijanowski

Committee Member

Ed Bengtson

Second Committee Member

Kara Lasater


Engagement, Learner Agency, Learner-Centered, Learning Environment, Personalized Learning, Voice


The purpose of this study was to examine the problem of practice of the decline in student engagement from the perceptions of secondary school learners as they proceed throughout their educational experience. According to researchers, learners who are engaged—meaning those who are committed and connected in active relationships with teachers, other learners, the learning environment, learning interests and ideas, the curriculum, and learning goals, are more likely to enjoy and be in control of their own learning [student agency]. This study is significant because of its potential to provide new understandings of the problem of a decline in student engagement from the perceptions of learners themselves.

Therefore, this study qualitatively explored a purposeful sample of secondary school learners’ perceptions regarding the phenomenon of student engagement during their secondary school experience. The purpose of a phenomenological qualitative research approach is to understand and describe the essence of some phenomenon by capturing the common experience of the phenomenon among a group of research participants. Subsequently, meaning can be constructed out of the common experience of the group. By listening to the voices of learners, a greater understanding could be developed for confronting the life-altering concern of a lack of student engagement in learning during the secondary school experience.

Since researchers have found student engagement in school can transfer to academic, emotional, economic, and social success in school, college, career, and life, understanding what personally engages learners holds significant weight for all students. Gaining a clearer picture in the local context of what engages secondary students from the perceptions of learners could provide a deeper understanding for establishing access to personalized student learning environments, experiences, and opportunities.