Author ORCID Identifier

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Middle and Secondary Education

First Advisor

Natalie S. King, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Patrick Enderle, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Renee Schwartz, Ph.D.


This Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR; Cammarota & Fine, 2008) study was designed to include youth as co-researchers to uplift their voices during the research process and showcase ways to incorporate Black culture and history into science curricula. This study applied elements of culturally relevant pedagogy (CRP) for children to 1) experience academic success, 2) maintain their cultural competence to develop positive ethnic and social identities, and 3) build sociopolitical consciousness to heighten awareness of inequities, of underrepresentation within the science curricula (Ladson-Billings & Tate, 1995). Data were collected through questionnaires, cogenerative dialogues, student reflections, lesson plans, student artifacts, and a culminating focus group interview. The use of thematic narrative data analysis facilitated the portrayal of the researchers' experiences through storytelling. Findings revealed the power of cultivating out-of-school learning spaces like the after-school program to alleviate barriers such as time constraints, rigid curriculum pacing guides, and inflexibility in the learning process. Findings indicated that when youth were afforded opportunities to provide input in what they learned and autonomy in how they demonstrated that learning, there was an appreciation for the process and evidence of joy in the creations they produced. As a researcher and facilitator, the ability for youth voices to be heard within this study allowed me to leverage their cultures and interests in my pedagogical approach. Implications indicate a need to diversify the teaching workforce, include student voices in curricular decisions, and incorporate the histories and identities of Black people in science. YPAR has the potential to support positive youth development because it provides a rich space to engage in the research process and improve their schools and communities.


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