Dissertation Defenses

Upcoming Dissertation Defenses

Name:  Marcus Croom

Title:  Guided Racing:  Literacy Instruction and Race Production

Committee Chair:  Dr. Alfred Tatum

Date:  Thursday, March 8, 2018

Time:  12:00pm – 2:00pm

Location:  Room 3015, ETMSW Building, 1040 W. Harrison St.


Race is un(der)theorized by many scholars and practitioners in the field of education and literacy in the U.S. At the same time, Black children’s multiple literacies are routinely un(der)developed by current processes and practices of schooling in the U.S. Perhaps a theoretical and empirical contribution to the field of education and literacy will help shift these fields from the common sense view of race to the consequential social practice view of race, while increasing the number of Black children who experience literacy instruction that develops their multiple literacies.

In this multiple case study, I investigated how two experienced literacy teachers—White women completing the reading specialist credential—evidenced their conceptualizations of race during one-on-one practicum instruction with Black children in the elementary grades, a Black girl and a Black boy. I designed a qualitative investigation to answer the following: How is teacher conceptualization of race evident in literacy instruction? Race critical practice analysis was used to analyze the collected data. Teachers evidenced five conceptualizations of race during the investigation. Findings have research, practice, and policy implications for the fields of education and literacy.


Name:  Brittney V. Williams

Title:  Parental Meta-Emotion Philosophies and Emotional Socialization in African American Children: Impact on Children’s Social Skills

Committee Chair:  Dr. Marisha Humphries

Date:  Friday, March 9, 2018

Time:  10:00am – 12:00pm

Location:  Room 3015, ETMSW Building, 1040 W. Harrison St.

Preparing a child for the world is an enormous undertaking. Parents are tasked with engaging in various forms of socialization to prepare their children for the world. One such form is emotional socialization. This process of teaching one’s child(ren) about emotions is influenced by the parents’ own emotional experiences. The current study examined emotional socialization among 51 African American parents (e.g., biological mothers and fathers) and their young children (five to seven years old) from low to upper income backgrounds. The parental meta-emotion philosophies (PMEP) framework was used to measure how parents manage their own emotions, and how they engage in emotional socialization practices with their children. Three conceptual models were used to test the potential mediation relationship between parental emotional socialization, child emotional competence, and child social skills of their young children. Contextual variables (i.e., parent ethnic identity, income level, and parental satisfaction) and gender were also included in the models to gain a broader understanding of how African American parents engage in emotional socialization.

Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) was used to analyze the three proposed conceptual models. Overall, fit indices revealed poor model fit for the three proposed models. The mediation relationship tested within the conceptual model was also insignificant. However, certain paths presented some interesting findings. Ethnic identity, parent gender, and parental satisfaction were found to have significant relationships with parents’ emotional socialization practices. Parents’ emotional socialization practices of certain emotions had a significant relationship with children’ emotional competence and social skills. Unexpectedly, a negative relationship existed between child language skills and emotional competence. Child emotional competence proved to be a significant predictor of child social skills. There will be a discussion of the implications of the study’s findings.


Name:  Erin M. Hoffman

Title:  Racial Climate and Belonging:  Experiences of Black Students at Traditionally White Liberal Arts Colleges

Date:  Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Time:  11:00am – 1:00pm

Location:  Room 3015, ETMSW Building, 1040 W. Harrison St.


Troubling college graduation rates in the United States, and disparities in completion rates between students of color and white students, persist even after more than 40 years of exploring the college completion phenomenon. This study follows a line of critique of Tinto’s (1975; 1993) theory of student departure and posits that traditional discussions of student retention do not adequately center the experience of racism that students of color face in traditionally white institution (TWI) environments. The aim of this study, guided by critical race theory, is to understand the experience of black students at TWI in order to challenge current perspectives of student success and retention, and work towards creating more socially just and inclusive campuses.

This multiple case study uses qualitative methods to explore the voices of black college students at three traditionally white liberal arts colleges in the Midwest and considers how the campus racial climate (Hurtado, Milem, Clayton-Pederson, & Allen, 1998) impacts black students’ sense of belonging (Strayhorn, 2012) and persistence in college. Findings from this study reveal the racial climate challenges of black students specifically within the traditionally white liberal arts college environment, expose the nuance of these institutional contexts as well as facades of progress, and recommend key institutional investments in faculty hiring and development as well as in developing critical spaces of trust, empowerment, and healing for black students.