Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.

Department (Legacy)

Department of Early Childhood and Elementary Education

Degree Program

Curriculum and Instruction, PhD

Committee Chair

Norton-Meier, Lori

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Overstreet, Mikkaka

Committee Member

Alagaraja, Meera

Committee Member

Thomas, Shelley

Committee Member

Chisholm, James

Committee Member

Haynes, Ray

Author's Keywords

critical pedagogy; intersectionality; teacher education; pre-service teachers


The shifting cultural ecologies of U.S. classrooms emphasize acknowledging difference, accepting diversity, and sustaining both cultural and linguistic plurality (Banks & Banks, 2009; hooks, 1994; Paris 2014). Teacher education programs play an integral role in preparing Pre-Service Teachers (PSTs) with skills, knowledge, and dispositions necessitated by a growing Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CLD) student population (Cruz, Ellerbrock, Vasquez & Howes, 2014). To enact equitable teaching practices reflective of 21st century students, PSTs need to demonstrate a level of cultural awareness that acknowledges the racially, socially, and politically charged societal structures that shape education for CLD students (Hall & Carlson, 2016). However, for Teacher Preparation Programs (TPPs), this task is complicated by the racial, cultural, and linguistic divide amid CLD students and their White teacher counterparts (Ball & Forzani, 2009). Research suggests cultural dissonance can result in a lack of knowledge and understanding about diverse students and how socio-historical oppression can affect their achievement (Brock, Case, & Taylor, 2013; Grossman & McDonald, 2008; Lazar, 2007). Thus, if White PSTs are expected to cultivate equitable classrooms, responsive of the socio-cultural, linguistic, and educational needs of CLD students, then TPPs need radical alterations in curriculum and instructional design to not only deliver practical applications of classroom pedagogy, but also provide a critical understanding of literacy as “a cultural resource that can be used to challenge systems of domination” (Janks, p. 35, 2000). This idea is amplified through the current study, through exploration of three strands of curricular inquiry: critical pedagogy, literacy education, and intersectional positionality. Specifically, the researcher examines how teacher candidates conceptualize curriculum that blends elementary literacy methods content and critical perspectives that critique, resist, and re-design traditional literacy practices. Utilizing a qualitative case study, multiple forms of data analysis reveal that critically oriented instruction must be taught explicitly and in multiple formats to support teachers in taking anti-hegemonic stances.