Date of Award

December 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Reading and Language Arts


Kathleen A. Hinchman


critical race theory, critical whiteness theory, culturally based pedagogy, literacy across the curriculum, racialized practices, teacher education

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities



The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the racialized practices enacted by seven preservice teachers while they participated in a university-based literacy across the curriculum course that included a school-based tutoring component. Research questions asked: 1) what racialized practices were enacted by preservice content-area teachers when they participated in a required literacy across the curriculum course that included one-on-one tutoring of youth at an urban secondary school, and 2) how did preservice content-area teachers' backgrounds contribute to their racialized practices?

This study drew on the premises of critical race theory and critical whiteness theory to define racialized practices. The study began with these theories' assumptions that race is an important social construction in U.S. society that is used to position people hierarchically, especially oppressing people of color. Racialized practices are ways of acting, speaking, and teaching that construct race as important. These practices include colorblindness, essentializing, and microaggression, as well as culturally responsive teaching, a positive racialized practice grounded in students' funds of knowledge and intended to counter more oppressive practices.

Data sources included transcripts from semi-structured interviews, field notes from classroom and tutoring observations and various course and tutoring related artifacts such as the course syllabus, lesson plans, unit plans and written reflections. Data were analyzed first, using a reflexive, constant comparative approach to gain insights into participants' rhetoric and actions. Second, data were reconsidered to delineate racialized practices.

The racialized practices of the preservice teachers involved in this literacy study were categorized as relationship-focused or instructionally-focused. Although all participants enacted both positive and negative racialized practices, relationship-focused participants tended to exhibit qualitatively different practices compared to the instructionally-focused participants. Regardless of their orientation, when participants shared their view of whether race mattered in education, the mostly White participants spoke predominantly of the significance of other people's races and not their own race.

Racialized practices that were consistent with culturally-based pedagogies included intentionally nurturing relationships with students at the tutoring site, talking about ways to help students understand and negotiate the culture of power that is dominant in educational institutions including higher education and cautioning preservice peers that they need to be cognizant not to advance stereotypes. Racialized practices that reflected participants' deficit thinking about their tutees, as well as their own discomfort in talking about racial issues included the enactments of racial microaggressions, distancing strategies and White talk.

This study provides new insights into how preservice teachers' racialized practices shape and are shaped by the racial hierarchy that continues to exist in schools. Findings have implications for school professionals, teacher educators and researchers who are interested in identifying and disrupting racialized literacy practices that may be harmful to students. Additionally, this study suggests that further exploration is needed to understand how race is implicated in relationship-focused literacy teaching, content-focused literacy teaching and students' engagement in learning across the curriculum.


Open Access