Date of Award

Spring 5-13-2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Early Childhood Education

First Advisor

Diane Truscott, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Laura May, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Rhina Fernandes Williams, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Chara Haeussler Bohan, Ph.D.


The study examined how a single urban teacher education program in a large southeastern university educate preservice teachers about English language variation, specifically African American English (AAE). AAE is a rule-based language spoken by a large population of students in urban communities across the nation. Document analysis was employed for internal documents such as coursework, websites, program materials, readings, course schedules, and catalogs for the presence, role, and function of AAE. External documents such as state and federal requirements for teacher certification programs were included. Grounded theory analysis was used with two focus groups exploring implicit AAE teaching approaches. The study found that Culturally Relevant Pedagogy (CRP) impacted how AAE was addressed in this teacher preparation program through an intentional emphasis on urban teaching and learning in non-deficit ways. CRP necessitated the building of cultural competence and critical consciousness of preservice teachers. AAE was partly addressed in the program, and yet a platform for understanding and supporting AAE was established through CRP and a commitment to combating bias and legitimizing language. This study also found that standards of academic rigor, high expectations, and understanding the relationship between power and language were advanced through CRP and strongly connected to AAE. Implications of how urban education preservice teacher programs could focus on AAE through CRP were provided.


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