Dissertation Research and Current Students

Dissertation Research

Dissertation Defense Announcements | The Graduate School | UNC Charlotte

Dissertation Titles and Abstracts 2018- present

Current Year Dissertation Titles and Abstracts


Doctoral StudentTitleAbstract
Lily A. GatesA Qualitative Multiple Case Study Exploring How the Experiences of High School Male Students Enrolled in an Alternative Education Program Mediate their Reading and Writing Inside the English ClassroomHistorically, male students have been known to score lower than their female counterparts in reading and writing on standardized measures of academic success. While scholars, teachers, and even policy makers have attempted to explain and mitigate this gender gap in reading and writing scores, the male students themselves have had little opportunity to offer their insight into the research. Moreover, there is limited research about the causes of the perceived gap in reading and writing scores, or the potential ways in which the high school English classroom could be reimagined in order to provide a solution. This qualitative multiple case study explores how the experiences outside of the classroom in the lives of high school male students enrolled in an alternative education program mediate their reading and writing in the high school English classroom. Furthermore, this study explores how high school male students enrolled in an alternative education program perceive pedagogical elements in the high school English classroom. In particular, this study focused on the experiences outside of school of three high school male students enrolled in an alternative education program. These stories were told through individual, narrative portraits composed by the researcher which were composed based on the analysis of data from two focus group sessions and two semi-structured one-on-one interviews. Findings from the study indicate that there is a need to expand the understanding of literacy skills, as well as how they are recognized, practiced, and assessed, in the high school English classroom.
Jeffrey FosterAn Autoethography: Culturally Responsive School Leadership through the Cencientized Critical Lens of an African American Male School AdminstratorAlthough significant research has been conducted on opportunity gaps between White and racially minoritized students, the percentage of minority students has reached 53% of the United States K-12 public schools (NCES, 2022). While the percentage of minority students now constitute the majority of public schools, the teacher workforce and school leadership remains majority White. As such, there is a need for additional investigations examining the role of culturally responsive classroom and school leadership practices in public schools. In particular, in the research, less is known about African American males and their culturally responsive school leadership practices. Thus, this study uses autoethnography to explore the experiences of a Black male school leader and the role of culturally responsive school leadership (CRSL) and conscientization in promoting effective school practices. As a member of a minority group, the school leader had relevant life and educational experiences of struggles and triumphs that impacted his leadership practices. These practices included but are not limited to fostering empathy, care, relevance, and rigor, which impacted the overall school climate and achievement. With the use of these practices that are grounded in CRSL, this urban school outperformed schools in the neighboring district. In sum, the findings suggest that there remains a need for more investigations on the role of CRSL in promoting urban school success.
Micah GriffithThe Intersections of White Identity and the Instructional Practices of Self-Identified Antiracist EducatorsWhile there was much research on whiteness, especially the role of whiteness in the classroom and the associated impact of racial mismatch and implicit bias, and also some research surrounding white racial identity development devoid of intersectionality, there was previously no existing research examining the multiplicities of white racial identity in self-identified antiracist educators. This study served to fill the gap within the research and began to analyze how sociopolitical systems potentially serve to replicate and reinforce whiteness and racial bias through intersections of racial identity, and also potentially identify how those intersections can be disrupted in such a way as to foster critical consciousness and antiracist activism within classrooms nationally. This study answers the questions: “How do intersections of identity shape the way teachers view themselves in the classroom?” and “How do the varied intersections of white identity inform teacher experiences, philosophical and pedagogical paradigms, and instructional practice amongst self-identified antiracist educators?” Using interpretive phenomenology and employing the theoretical frameworks of critical whiteness (Roediger, 1994), critical whiteness feminism, and double-imagery (Seidl & Hancock, 2011), the following themes were identified as relevant to forming white teachers’ critical consciousness (Freire, 2018), thus supporting an antiracist paradigm: gender, religion, proximity to people of color, and education.
Antoinette RochesterThe Politicalization of the 1619 Project: The Necessity for Transformative Curricula within Social StudiesIn August 2019, The New York Times published what was said to be a “controversial” journalistic take on African American and American history. Written by Nikole Hannah-Jones, an awardee of the Pulitzer Prize and a MacArthur Genius Award, and her fellow journalists at The New York Times, The 1619 Project was intentionally published on the 400th anniversary of the arrival in Virginia of the first ships arriving in Virginia with enslaved Africans aboard (The New York Times, 2019). Although it has become one center of the United States political debate and rhetoric, the intent of The 1619 Project was not to further politicize the United States educational system. Rather, the intention was to present a compelling counter narrative to American history, but more importantly, African American history (The New York Times, 2019). However, because education within the United States is a politicized system, the work of Nikole Hannah-Jones and her colleagues has magnified the growing disconnect between a history of honest racial representation and its alignment with formal curriculum, standards, and education policy. The purpose of this dissertation was to investigate how the formal social studies curriculum can become politicized by political actors and media. The New York Times’s The 1619 Project serves as a contemporary illustration of these dynamics. Through a multi-method approach using archival data and the Transcript: Ezra Klein Interviews Ta-Nehisi Coates and Nikole Hannah-Jones, the intent and media influence of The 1619 Project was examined situating the study within the theoretical frame of critical policy analysis using grounded theory methods to be analyzed through BlackCrit (Birk & Mills, 2015; Charmaz, 1996; Diem et al., 2014; Dumas & ross, 2016; King, 2018; Young & Diem, 2018).
Jacqueline BaroneReducing The Underrepresentation of Black Male Middle School Students in Higher Level Mathematics Courses: Principals’ PerspectivesStudents in urban schools face a number of challenges including lower enrollment numbers in higher level mathematics courses. This particular challenge has the drastic consequence of increasing the achievement gap and reducing the opportunities available for Black students. Traditionally schools have utilized standardized tests and teacher input to determine placement into these higher level mathematics courses. This research study was a qualitative study designed to focus on the perceptions of middle school principals who have had success in reducing the underrepresentation of Black male students in higher level mathematics courses. Data was collected through semi-structured interviews with successful middle school principals in North Carolina. This research serves to provide insight into what practices middle school principals identify for schools to implement in order to lessen the underrepresentation of Black male students in higher level mathematics courses.
Nina G. BaileyDescribing Critical Statistical Literacy Habits of MindHow statistics are wielded and presented in the real world cannot be separated from the fact that social issues operate within systems of marginalization, privilege, and power. Thus, statistical literacy necessitates the application of a true critical lens. Continued calls for critical statistical literacy from a consumer orientation within K-16 education, points to the need for research on how critical statistical literacy is enacted, particularly among the population of preservice mathematics teachers responsible for answering such calls. This study employed case study methodologies to gain deeper insight into how secondary preservice mathematics teachers enact Critical Statistical Literacy Habits of Mind (CSLHM) when making sense of data representations from the media. Critical Statistical Literacy Habits of Mind (CSLHM) are the thinking behaviors called upon to make sense of statistical messages with a specific focus on how the statistics and/or statistical message are used to uphold or dismantle structures of inequity. Findings reveal that preservice teachers emergently enact CSLHM. Some preservice teachers enact particular CSLHM robustly, although not habitually. Broader implications include the need to support preservice teachers’ development of CSLHM so that they can support their students to do the same.
Marquis MasonHonoring Through Countering: A Qualitative Study Exploring How Black Male Teachers’ Racialized and Gendered Experiences Impact Their Teaching Practices.The teaching practices of African American teachers are rooted in their personal and racialized experiences and have implications for teacher preparation programs and teacher scholarship. While research is abundant on how the teaching practices of Black male teachers positively impact student outcomes, the formation of their teaching practices is not as explicit in the existing literature. Employing critical race theory theoretical framework, this study explored how Black male teachers in the South’s racialized and gendered experiences impact their teaching practices. The following research questions guided this qualitative study: 1) What are the racialized and gendered experiences of Black male teachers in the South; 2) What are the teaching practices of Black male teachers in the South?; and 3) How do the racialized and gendered experiences of Black male teachers in the South impact their teaching practices? A thematic analysis of participant interviews and archival documents revealed themes that add to the existing literature on how Black male teachers racialized and gendered experiences impact their teaching practices. Recommendations are provided for school and district leaders, professional development staff, teacher preparation programs, and other educational stakeholders.
Julie BacakUsing Tools to Support Productive Mathematical Discussions: A Multiple Case StudyFacilitating productive mathematical discussions is considered a core practice of mathematics education. The complexity of this teaching practice presents the need for pedagogical tools to provide structure for preservice teachers (PST) developing their practice, yet little is known about how PSTs use these tools. This multiple case study sought to understand what pedagogical tools PSTs use to plan and enact mathematical discussions with elementary students and how they use these tools to support their practice. In particular, this study focused on capturing the experiences of three elementary PSTs as they transitioned from university-based methods course instructions into early clinical teaching experiences in elementary classrooms. These experiences were captured through multiple one-on-one interviews, observations of teaching in clinical classroom settings, and analysis of artifacts of teaching and learning. This study has implications for mathematics teacher education, practice-based teacher education, and the refinement of tools to support teachers’ practice facilitating mathematical discussions with students.

Meet the Curriculum and Instruction Ph.D. Students

Doctoral Students Research

The Team | K12 Educational Technologies Security and Privacy | UNC Charlotte

Nina Bailey | Nina G. Bailey (charlotte.edu)

Looking Closer at the History of Black Education in Charlotte | Cato College of Education | UNC Charlotte

Jimmeka Anderson

Congratulations to Jimmeka Anderson, recipient of 2021 Lucille P. and Edward C. Giles Dissertation-Year Graduate Fellowship. Jimmeka will received more than $20,000 towards her doctorate based on her strong potential to make a significant contribution to society.

Education Doctoral Student Receives Fellowship for Potential to Contribute to Society | Cato College of Education | UNC Charlotte

Dr. Jimmeka Anderson Work Shop – Teaching Media Literacy to Combat Misinformation May 18, 2023, 7:00 PM – Registration

Marquis Mason

Marquis Mason, an education doctoral student at UNC Charlotte, was awarded the 2021-2022 Faye Jacques Memorial Graduate Fellowship, which was established in 2009 by the friends and family of Ms. Faye Jacques in honor of her tireless dedication to UNC Charlotte and graduate education.

Mason is a student in the Curriculum and Instruction program with a concentration in Urban Education. Full-time master’s or doctorate students who have demonstrated potential to make a significant contribution to society are eligible for the fellowship, with preference given to first-generation students.

“It is an honor to receive this fellowship to help with funding my Ph.D. studies. As a first-generation college student, I pride myself on making a positive contribution to society with the opportunities that I have been afforded. I know that there are many people like myself who have aspirations and great obstacles to achieve those aspirations. It is my goal to turn those aspirations into realities through my life work of education,” Mason said.



Debbie Saavedra-Winch – 2023 Engaged Leadership Initiative (ELI) Fellowship in the Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction

Deziree Baker – 2023 Engaged Leadership Initiative (ELI) Fellowship in the Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction

Patti Brooks – 2023 Engaged Leadership Initiative (ELI) Fellowship in the Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction

Torie Wheatley – 2023 American Education Research Association (AERA) Graduate Student Travel Award

Tierra M. Parsons – 2023 American Education Research Association (AERA) Graduate Student Travel Award