Date of Completion


Embargo Period



faculty development, equity, critical pedagogy, faculty agency, curriculum, teaching capacity

Major Advisor

Dr. Milagros Castillo-Montoya

Associate Advisor

Dr. Jason Irizarry

Associate Advisor

Dr. Suzanne Wilson

Field of Study

Learning, Leadership, and Education Policy


Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


This multi-case study centers on how Criminology/Criminal Justice (CCJ) professors enact and refine a teaching approach that helps students understand how practices from their field of study can reinforce systemic discrimination and its harmful consequences. These are practices that have disproportionately threatened the physical, emotional, and/or economic conditions of communities with limited socio-political power. This research is important because college instructors play an influential role in preparing and enhancing the country’s workforce. Thus, if college instructors do not prepare students as critically-minded professionals, then students may reproduce practices that can lead to detrimental social, political, and economic outcomes for the country as a whole.

Given the importance of critical teaching in higher education, I specifically examined professors’ beliefs, perceptions, and actions related to how they enacted and refined their critical teaching approach. I collected data from interviews, class observations, course materials, and student focus groups and interviews. With a conceptual framework grounded in faculty agency and critical teaching, I found professors in this study a) use the experiences of justice-involved people and practitioners to re-socialize students to have a “realistic” understanding of CCJ; b) have knowledge, dispositions, and resources that contribute to their experimental capacity with teaching; and c) increase student success when they enact instructional equity. This study suggests that college instructors can be catalysts to mitigating social inequities when they include subject-matter content on the people impacted by systemic discrimination, and instructional strategies that enable learning and persistence among students impacted the most by systemic discrimination.