Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Lampi, Jodi P.

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Curriculum and Instruction (CI)


This dissertation explores the instructional decision making of White female community college developmental literacy instructors in order to better understand pedagogical practices that impact educational inequities for Black male students in developmental literacy classes. Historically, the U.S education system has underserved Black male students, and college success rates demonstrate that educational inequities persist for Black male students today. Although much research has focused on educational inequities for Black male students in K-12 and university environments, little research has focused those inequities for Black male students in community colleges. In addition, although research that explores Black male experiences in educational settings provides an essential basis for more equitable educational opportunities, the educational system also needs a better understanding of the how educators’ conceptions about race and education impact the instructional decisions they make. Thus, this study addresses the gap in research by studying the praxis of White female instructors in community college developmental literacy classes. I employed a theoretical framework composed of critical race theory, Whiteness theory, and intersectionality to analyze data I collected from interviews, focus groups, and course documents of five White female developmental literacy instructors from one community college. My analysis of the data revealed that three overarching themes informed the praxis of these five White female developmental literacy instructors. The instructors employed culturally responsive teaching practices to engage students in coursework and to help students establish meaningful connections with the texts, their classmates, and the instructor. Additionally, the instructors took deliberate steps to create a safe and comfortable classroom environment for their students and themselves. However, in an effort to maintain comfort and safety in the classroom, the instructors avoided direct discussion of race. My findings suggest that White female developmental literacy instructors’ discomfort in engaging race in the classroom may result in inauthentic classroom practices that are unlikely to engage Black male students.


406 pages




Northern Illinois University

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