Date of Award

Summer 8-9-2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Middle and Secondary Education

First Advisor

Dr. Gail Sue Kasun

Second Advisor

Dr. Michelle Zoss

Third Advisor

Dr. Jennifer Esposito

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Cynthia Saavedra

Fifth Advisor

Dr. Gertrude Tinker Sachs-Chairperson


The purpose of this study was to explore, though a qualitative critical ethnographic case study approach, how Latinx students from a sheltered ESOL seventh grade classroom in an urban school context of a southeastern state in the U.S. responded to a mindful and social justice driven seven-week unit informed by Chicana feminism, nepantlera pedagogy, and mindful breathing meditation through the exploration of Esperanza Rising (Muñoz Ryan, 2000). The data were collected through non-participant and participant observation, field notes from the observations, and audio recorded semi-structured interviews. I took photographs of the classroom space and collected student-produced work as artifacts to inform my study. Data were analyzed through a Chicana Feminist framework and Gloria Anzaldúa’s (2015) seven stages of conocimiento (coming to knowing) to interpret how students responded to the unit implementation.

The findings highlighted students’ reflective processes through “aha” moments in which they experienced conocimiento that led them to understand what they were learning through a more mindful and holistic perspective. The findings encompassed three overarching macro- themes and ten micro-themes. These came in moments of conocimiento students experienced during their interviews that were in alignment with their comments and behaviors in the classroom and written reflections. The themes addressed a very broad research question by providing some insight into how students reacted to a curricular unit that highlighted student’s reflective processes in relation to themselves, the book, the classroom context, and their overall learning experience with every component of the unit. Students demonstrated they were reflective and critical thinkers by co-creating future learning experiences alongside their teachers.


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