Date of Award

5-17-2019

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Early Childhood Education

First Advisor

Dr. Janice Fournillier

Second Advisor

Dr. Joyce King

Third Advisor

Dr. Yali Zhao

Abstract

The educational difficulties faced by African-American students in American public schools have led to a quest for authentic solutions. These solutions have included a call for pedagogical practices that recognize and infuse students' culture into the learning environment. It is the case, however, that the acknowledgment of student culture is not evident in all classrooms, or in all disciplines. Many educators seem to misunderstand how to utilize student cultural identity to benefit student learning efficiently. The remedy might lie in providing more references for how student-centeredness for the African-American student can be implemented. This qualitative case study used an Afrocentric framework to link the discourse on culturally relevant teaching in mainstream schools with that of African-centered schools. Iexamined the practices of an elementary education science teacher in an African-centered school, and how she translated the African-centered curriculum into effective instructional methods, in a discipline as seemingly culture-neutral as science. The findings of this study are organized around the Afrocentric tenets of centrism, critical analysis and consciousness, and offer practical expressions of these tenets in the elementary science classroom. The findings suggest the importance of teacher mindset regarding centered pedagogical practices, and a need for teachers to prioritize their own knowledge and consciousness regarding the history and current scientific concerns relevant to people of African-descent. There is clearly a need for an acknowledgement of the foundational quality of socio-political science education at the elementary level. Doing so may help to reconcile some of the difficulties educators experience in addressing the socio-political aspects of elementary science. This study can contribute to the strengthening, empowering, and promoting of agency within educators of African-American students in all educational contexts.

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