Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Education and Human Services


Teacher Education and Teacher Development

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Kathryn Herr

Committee Member

Emily Klein

Committee Member

Katrina Bulkley


The number of Latinx K-12 students has grown dramatically over recent years. There are approximately 12.5 million Latinx students in U.S. public schools. Despite these large population gains, inner city Latinx students continue to struggle academically. Their dropout rate is almost two times higher than that of white students, making it the highest of all ethnic and racial groups. In the past several decades, there has been a focus on accountability, school choice, and various other educational reforms that have been implemented with an aim to improve student performance. However, these reform efforts have not yielded the desired change and outcomes. Given the limited success of these measures, this research explores how student voice can inform pedagogy and teacher development of critical consciousness as part of Culturally Relevant Pedagogy. Using an action research approach, a group of 11 eighth grade students was convened, the Principal's Advisory Group. The goal was to understand the lived experience of Latinx students in the school where the author is principal. The topic focused on how their experiences could inform professional development in the area of CRP and the critical consciousness component within it, with particular attention for any occasions when the students moved toward a critical read of their worlds. However, the conversations confirmed that the students at this school have not been prepared to think critically at that level and that as educators at this school, movement should be made toward cultivating critical consciousness, encouraging student analysis and agency. Their responses substantiated that there are many obstacles that can get in the way of effectively teaching students and cultivating them as citizens who can make change and influence their environment. Possible openings toward realizing such aims were noticed. These observations made it evident that relational teaching should be considered a foundation to Culturally Relevant Pedagogy. Implications for school leaders and teacher professional development were discussed, as well as future research to consider.

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