Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ed. D.


Educational Leadership, Evaluation and Organizational Development

Degree Program

Educational Leadership and Organizational Development, EDD

Committee Chair

Brydon-Miller, Mary

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Buecker, Harrie

Committee Member

Buecker, Harrie

Committee Member

Adams, Tomarra

Committee Member

Rivers, Ishwanzya

Author's Keywords

Black feminist thought; critical race theory


This Participatory Action Research dissertation discovers what fosters or diminishes school sense of belonging for African American female students. This is achieved by foregrounding the voices of the individual participants and the collective voice of those within this study. Both Critical Race Theory and Black Feminist Thought guide this dissertation study to ensure the intersectionality between race and gender is addressed. Data for this study was collected during five workshop sessions, where participants created digital stories on their sense of belonging. The findings revealed the importance of students’ racial identity, family, peer relationships, fitting in, safety, and being seen/heard by teachers for fostering belonging. Acts such as misrepresentation of one’s identity or ignoring students diminish sense of belonging. This dissertation study addresses the lack of scholarly research around African American female students and their sense of belonging in schools. Future research must continue to counter African American females’ invisibility and conduct research alongside them to truly impact outcomes.