Pedagogy and Racialized Ways of Knowing: Students and Faculty Engage Racial Realities in Postsecondary Classrooms

Open Access
Quaye, Stephen John
Graduate Program:
Higher Education
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
December 06, 2007
Committee Members:
  • Shaun R Harper, Committee Chair
  • Lisa R Lattuca, Committee Chair
  • Robert D Reason, Committee Member
  • Edward Paul Durrenberger, Committee Member
  • classrooms
  • engagement
  • faculty
  • racism
  • race
  • pedagogy
  • higher education
Racism continues to be a factor that negatively impedes the experiences of racial/ethnic minority students within higher education, and White students resist efforts aimed at engaging them in dialogues about racial issues in classroom contexts. However, few faculty persons have the requisite preparation, skills, and knowledge to facilitate the constructive discussion of racial realities among learners in classroom contexts. The impetus for this study was the need to describe and understand the pedagogical philosophies and practices of educators who endeavored to engage students in constructive racial interactions, as well as how they managed the challenges that resulted from that process. Qualitative research methods were employed to examine how instructors made sense of the pedagogies they used to invite students to participate in racially-based exchanges. Specifically, critical race theory and aspects of case study methodology guided this study wherein each participant was treated as a unique racialized case who could describe the phenomenon of interest—the pedagogical methods utilized to facilitate the discussion of racial issues in the classroom. Interviews were conducted with a diverse sample of 22 participants and document review was employed to understand the readings, assignments, and engagement activities participants used to facilitate these dialogues. Six integrated themes resulted from the data analysis that represent the varied, but related, ways in which participants facilitated these classroom-based exchanges. They reflected on their (1) backgrounds and previous experiences; (2) their definitions of race and racism; (3) their roles as educators, including their assumptions and biases; (4) the learners in their courses, how they treated them, and their expectations of them; (5) the manner in which they facilitated these dialogues; and (6) the challenges and barriers that precluded them and students from engaging race. Based on interpretations of the data, a Facilitating Dialogues about Racial Realities Model was developed that illustrated the integrated nature of the six categories. The findings of this study can inform the practice of professors and administrators, as they strive to create intentional spaces for racial dialogues to occur within college and university classrooms. Findings are used to suggest practical ways that educators and administrators can build upon each other’s expertise to promote dialogues about race and racism in various courses. In addition, implications for future research on the process of facilitating exchanges about racial realities in postsecondary classrooms are proposed.