Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Education Theory and Practice

Content Description

1 online resource (ix, 286 pages) : color illustrations

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Kristen Wilcox

Committee Members

Carol Rodgers, Caridad Souza


bell hooks, grounded theory, online discussion, phenomenology, teacher education, White privilege, Race awareness, Whites, Racism in higher education, Discrimination in education, Multicultural education, Teaching, Teachers

Subject Categories

Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | Teacher Education and Professional Development


This inquiry seeks to understand how preservice teachers interact with White privilege during a teacher education course dedicated to diversity and teaching. By pairing grounded theory with phenomenology, insights into participants’ pre-existing beliefs around race and Whiteness are examined. Given the cultural mismatch between an increasingly diverse public school student population and the historically stable White preservice teacher population, a closer look at persistent and resistant linguistic phenomena undergirding White dominance in the educational setting is useful. Participants’ pre- and post-term papers are used to anchor the research, and an asynchronous, online, peer-mediated discussion of bell hooks’ autoethnographic essay “Learning in the Shadow of Race and Class” provides a view into participants’ beliefs about identity, race, and White privilege. Autobiographical papers (written during the first week of class) serve as self-portraits and reveal three dominant themes of participants’ self-identity: sheltered backgrounds, colorblindness as a virtue, and a sense of personal victimhood. Online discussions expose a linguistic phenomenon coined White double-consciousness (inspired by W.E.B. Du Bois’ Black double-consciousness), co-constructed narratives that support White privilege and marginalize hooks, and the existence of two powerful, but short-lived antiracist outliers. Autobiographical term papers (written in the final week of class) capture participants’ self-perceptions of changes to their pre-existing beliefs. Their papers detail positive changes to pre-existing beliefs, contested claims of no change to pre-existing beliefs which are contradicted by their own statements, and a single outlier arguing that due to her lifelong embrace of noblesse oblige, no changes to her pre-existing beliefs occurred. The evidence provided through participants’ vivid voices offers a convincing case for the power of instructional practices in the teacher education classroom to effect positive change to preservice teachers’ pre-existing beliefs during a single-semester. This study offers important insights into issues of White Privilege in teacher education and suggests that instructional practices can increase the likelihood of changing participants’ pre-existing beliefs and enhancing their pedagogy and practice.