Date of Award

Fall 1-6-2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Middle and Secondary Education

First Advisor

Dr. Nadia Behizadeh

Second Advisor

Dr. Laura May

Third Advisor

Dr. Jennifer Esposito

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Charity Gordon


The purpose of this study was to explore the beliefs and identities of two Black ELA teachers committed to criticality and examine how these beliefs and identities affect perspectives and teaching practices. This study also explored the process through which the two teachers created instructional units of study intended to support the secondary Black student participants deepen their criticality development. Finally, the students’ writing was assessed to analyze the curriculum’s impact. This study drew upon sociocultural learning theory and critical literacy writing instruction. Critical composition pedagogy was used to design instruction with the intent to help students write for critical social change. This qualitative study also employed case study methodology and critical discourse analysis methods. Findings demonstrate how the teachers’ social justice background, cultural experiences, and pedagogical practices supported their efforts to develop critical curriculum. Through the critical discourse analytic tool, additional findings suggest the critical composition pedagogy curriculum increased student participants’ exploration of identity, investigation of community concerns, and increased their active involvement in classroom tasks. Implications highlight the importance of students writing for critical social change and the urgency of addressing challenges to critical curriculum such as administrative mandates and legislation that limit the praxis of critical literacy focused teaching and learning.


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