Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Middle-Secondary Education and Instructional Technology

First Advisor

Dana L. Fox, Ph.D. - Chair

Second Advisor

Joyce E. Many, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Gertrude Tinker Sachs

Fourth Advisor

Eric Freeman, Ph.D.


This naturalistic investigation examined how the implementation of a teacher study group assisted African-American teachers in instituting culturally relevant pedagogy. Ladson-Billings (1994) coined the term culturally relevant pedagogy to address the need for developing and implementing authentic methods for teaching African-American students. However, teachers also need opportunities to be engaged in learning experiences that will facilitate their growth in this area. Although teacher study groups are a popular form of professional development (Birchak et al., 1998), research on teacher study groups designed exclusively for African-American teachers is absent from the literature. Informed by tenets of sociocultural theory (Lave & Wenger, 1991), critical race theory (Solórzano & Bernal, 2001), and feminist theory (Belenky et al., 1997; Collins, 2000), this study involved participants in what I have termed culturally relevant professional development. Research questions included (1) What are the characteristics of an African-American teacher study group? (2) What are the topics and themes discussed in an African-American teacher study group that is focused on “culturally relevant pedagogy”? (3) How does participation in a teacher study group inform the participants’ views about (a) literacy and the literacy curriculum and (b) their teaching practices? (4) According to the study group participants, how does the African-American teacher study group compare to other professional development experiences in facilitating their growth as learners? (5) How might the participation of a school administrator in a teacher study group assist teachers in their professional growth? Data sources included audiotaped and videotaped study group sessions, field notes from study group sessions, in-depth interviews, field notes from classroom observations, participant journals, and a researcher’s journal. Constant comparison and grounded theory methods (Glaser & Strauss, 1967) guided data analysis. Methodological rigor was established using criteria for trustworthiness (Lincoln & Guba, 1985). Participants reported that culturally relevant professional development is essential to address the specific needs of African-American students. The teacher study group inquiry centered on ways to support African-American male students, ways to address curriculum mandates, the need for administrative support and parental involvement, the importance of spirituality, the need for collegiality and building relationships, and ways to challenge the status quo.

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