Date of Award


Degree Name

Curriculum and Instruction


College of Education and Professional Development

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Dr. Luke Eric Lassiter, Committee Chair

Second Advisor

Dr. Lisa A. Heaton

Third Advisor

Dr. Kimberly Ann White


This dissertation examines the pedagogical decision making processes of eight social studies teachers in West Virginia who taught about race and racism during the 2021-2022 school year. Teaching about racism and issues of race has become highly politicized, but social studies educators remain uniquely poised to have meaningful discussions about racial discrimination and how race and various other social identities form a matrix of power and privilege. To examine the complex decisions social studies educators in West Virginia make when adopting racial justice pedagogy and the sociopolitical contexts informing their decisions, this qualitative study uses the three complementary theoretical frameworks of critical race theory, critical whiteness studies, and critical regionalism. The three frameworks inform this study’s emergent design and research methods, which pull from collaborative and critical educational ethnography methodologies. Based on interpretative analysis of qualitative data, which includes individual interviews, artifact analysis, and a focus group, findings indicate that consultants’ interconnected and layered sociopolitical contexts framed their pedagogical decision making processes and situated emergent patterns across consultants’ instructional goals and pedagogical approaches. The themes in this study add a new and nuanced perspective to broader conversations about the teaching of race and racism, particularly in the field of social studies education. Second, they reveal that educators need support when entering into the complex and crucial work of racial justice pedagogy.


Curriculum-based assessment – West Virginia.

Racial justice in education – West Virginia.