Date of Award

Spring 2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Education Policy, Planning, and Administration

Committee Chairperson

David Backer, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Cheryl Neale-McFall, Ph.D., LPC, NCC

Committee Member

Kathryn Solic, Ph.D.


Educator preparation programs draw from national and state standards to develop teacher candidates at universities across the United States. This study investigated an alternative competency, critical consciousness, as part of the undergraduate curriculum in an Early Grades major at a predominantly white institution (PWI) in Pennsylvania. By contrasting teacher candidates who engage in a semester-long community immersive experience with those who participate in a traditional program, this study compared cognitive, attitudinal, and behavioral dimensions of critical consciousness. The study used a convergent mixed methods design grounded in a theoretical framework consisting of humanizing pedagogy theorized through abolitionist teaching and community-engaged teacher education, employing both quantitative and qualitative elements. The critical consciousness survey, which included two valid and reliable instruments—the short critical consciousness scale and the contemporary critical consciousness measure II—were used to collect data about the community immersive (n=16) and traditional program participants’ (n=77) critical reflection, critical motivation, and critical action. Informed by case study design, three focus groups (n=5) generated collective data. Several factors, including the Early Grades major, PK-12 educators, and other teacher candidates within the major, either encouraged and/or hindered the development of critical consciousness. This study found while the community immersive experience builds what participants reference as a critical vibe, survey results demonstrated a lack of critical action across both participant groups.