Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Policy Studies

First Advisor

Deron Robert Boyles, Ph.D. - Chair


ABSTRACT CULTURAL IDENTITY, VOICE, AND AGENCY IN POST-SECONDARY GRAPHIC DESIGN EDUCATION: A COLLECTIVE CASE STUDY by Larry M. Stultz This study investigates areas of conflict between students’ cultural identities and the educational environment established and maintained by their faculty and school. It analyzes the usefulness and value of personal creative expression in the classroom and how treatment of cultural identity and performance influences student persistence and success. Four theoretical frameworks ground this study and comprise the majority of the relevant literature. The inquiry is framed by theories in curriculum, performance, cultural difference, and symbolic interaction. Three purposely selected students participated in individual case studies, and the data from interviews, classroom observation, and examples of student work were subjected to both unique and collective case analysis. Three identifiable areas inform the collective interpretation: socialization, self-view, and agency, with the latter seeming most dynamic. Very significant are the students’ disparate socialization goals: assimilation, acculturation, and syncretism or compromised coexistence. The problem of self-view, or naming, is also useful. The identity and voice exhibited by these three students create ways in which they are viewed and treated by their peers and their faculty. Most importantly, the students’ experiences and cultural capital are shown to have agency, and agency is a signifier in looking into student success. This study reveals that while it is up to the students to utilize experiential agency, it is up to educators and institutions to consider the role of identity, voice, and agency in developing and maintaining an educative environment.