Date of Award

Spring 3-6-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Linda Williams

Second Advisor

Jalin B. Johnson

Third Advisor

Keith Larick


Purpose: The purpose of this phenomenological study is to explore the lived experiences of former Circle of Friends (CoF) nondisabled peer mentors of students with multiple disabilities to discover how this mentorship program impacted Daniel Goleman’s four dimensions of emotional intelligence.

Methodology: This study employed a qualitative phenomenological design. In qualitative designs, the researcher seeks to welcome the subject’s voice into a chorus that contributes to the summative ballad of the sample. The researcher must seek to be a neutral conduit that captures those voices. Thus, the researcher in this study interviewed 14 former peer friends from the CoF program through semistructured face-to-face interviews to collect the data needed for this study.

Findings: According to the 14 in-depth semistructured interviews, participants in the CoF program perceived their experience positively affected their acquisition of traits that are in alignment with Daniel Goleman’s tenets of emotional intelligence. Furthermore, study participants reported an overwhelmingly positive experience that allowed them to practice skills that are needed for learning 21st-century skills such as adaptability, leadership, critical thinking, and collaboration.

Conclusions: Students who participate as peer friends in the CoF program will develop and practice self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management daily while engaged with their disabled counterparts on school campuses. Brill (1994) found that increased exposure to nondisabled peers increased socialization, decreased suspension, and heightened enthusiasm to participate in class. Likewise, this study documented evidence that nondisabled students participating in a form of service learning increased their emotional intelligence capacity and had positive effects on their life after participation.

Recommendations: Future studies should be conducted to determine if similar programs in schools and college produce similar results for the nondisabled participants. Researchers should use this study to design research to obtain staff perceptions and perspectives on the benefits observed as related to the nondisabled peer friends. Further examination of the link between peer mentorship and emotional intelligence can help businesses and organizations identify more programs that allow participants to practice skills needed in the 21st-century career space.