Award Date

December 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Curriculum & Instruction

First Committee Member

Christine E. Clark

Second Committee Member

Marilyn McKinney

Third Committee Member

Chyllis Scott

Fourth Committee Member

Tambra O. Jackson

Fifth Committee Member

Doris L. Watson

Number of Pages



In the United States education system a large achievement gap between African American and Latino students compared to White American students exists. Various studies have documented the gap, but there has not been much success in closing it. Recognizing that the educational system is growing more, not less, diverse, including due to the rise in enrollments of students of color and the decrease of the same by white students based on birthrates and immigration trends, the success of this increasingly diverse student population is even more important to the success of the nation. Preparing teachers to integrate multicultural content and pedagogy across the PK-12 (and higher education) curriculum is one means of addressing the gap. Doing so in early education creates stronger interpersonal and, thus, academic, foundations for all children; continuing to do so as children progress educationally will assure that all students are prepared to become active citizens in society. Ensuring that all students can find themselves affirmed in the curriculum is key to their individual, social, and educational identity formation and, thus, their future success in all quadrants of life.

Accordingly, this research seeks to contribute to existing literature on supporting all students’ positive identity development through the use of culturally responsive content and pedagogical practices. Drawing upon Jackson’s (1976b) Black Identity Development Model and Freire’s (1970) theory of critical pedagogy, this research will explore racial identity development theory through examining the educational experiences of black children’s interactions with “movement-oriented” Civil Rights-themed children’s literature. The ultimate goal of this research is to identify reliable critical pedagogical strategies for in- and pre-service teachers to adopt to close the racial academic achievement gap. This qualitative, multiple case study of seven Black students, aged eight to twelve years, and their parent or parents was undertaken in the context of a summer literacy program. Data sources included a demographic survey, pre- and post-classroom activity interviews, and classroom observation. Themes in the participating students’ Black Identity Development that emerged in relationship to their engagement with culturally relevant curriculum and pedagogical practices were culled and examined against the participants’ educational outcomes.


Critical Literacy; Culturally Relevant Curriculum; Curriculum development; Freedom Schools; Multicultural children's literature; Racial identity development



File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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