Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Education (MAE)



First Advisor

Susan O'Connor


Self-determined people possess the skills necessary to understand personal strengths and limitations and to engage in goal-oriented, self-regulated behavior that allows them to successfully take control of their lives (Field, Martin, Miller, Ward, & Wehmeyer, 1998). In contrast, students with emotional / behavioral disorders (E/BD) struggle to manage aggression, impulsivity, anxiety, mood swings, and other disordered thought processes (Minnesota Rule 3525.1329). One approach to helping students with E/BD become more self-determined is direct instruction in self-determination strategies. A majority of educators working with students with disabilities between the ages of 14 and 21 believe "promoting self-determination would be 'very helpful' to prepare their students for success in post-school life" (Wehmeyer, Agran, &. Hughes,2000, p. 63) and that self-determination may help students manage disabilities (Benrtez, Lattimore, &. Wehmeyer, 2005). However, claims of success are often drawn from teacher-led worksheet curricula inside classrooms rather than student-directed, real world applications. Student led service-learning (i.e., projects co-created and directed by students that integrate meaningful community service with academic instruction and incorporate student reflection throughout the process) may provide students with self-determination skills that generalize beyond the school setting. Under the right conditions, participants in such hands-on, relevant apprenticeships improve their self-determination attributes of goal-setting and attainment, choice-making, and internal locus of control (Muscott,2000). This study reviewed appropriate literature and employed student questionnaires, observations, and interviews to examine the value of student voice and service-learning to promote self-determination in high school students with E/BD.


SC 11.MAE.2007.Ricci.MA

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