Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Committee Member

Dr. Robert C. Knoeppel, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Dr. Roy E. Jones

Committee Member

Dr. D. Matthew Boyer

Committee Member

Dr. Angela M. Rogers


This dissertation explores the instructional practices of Title I middle school teachers and their alignment to the development of student self-concept. Additionally, this study identifies the degree to which teachers are prepared to skillfully meet the needs of African American students in poverty. While public schools across our country have adopted numerous curriculums, learning initiatives, and best practices in efforts to increase the academic achievement of students, there is a lack of collaborative dialogue on how democratic educators can contribute to students seeing themselves in a positive manner. Seven highly-qualified classroom teachers at two Title I middle schools in South Carolina were used in this case study by means of observations, interviews, and thematic analysis of teacher feedback. The findings revealed nine themes related to the two research questions. These emerging themes were affirmations and celebrations, high expectations, relationship building, culturally relevant pedagogy, student empowerment, limited knowledge, diminished confidence, school-wide effort, and cultural diversity. The findings suggest teachers make use of best practices but are unaware of their role in self-concept development due to the fact they have limited knowledge of the construct. Participants were also challenged in their ability to make lessons culturally relevant. The findings were interpreted and situated in the context of existing literature on theoretical framework of self-concept enhancement. The implications of the study are discussed and recommendations for future study and educational practice were also provided.



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