Date of Award

Spring 2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Policy and Leadership

First Advisor

Pink, William T.

Second Advisor

Lowe, Robert

Third Advisor

Kuykendall, John A.


Current research generally reveals the classroom experiences of black professors at predominantly white institutions (PWI) as largely negative, whether or not issues of race are featured prominently in course content. The literature on this overall topic is, however, sparse and no published research study exists involving the use of originally conducted fieldwork observations and interviews. Consequently, this exploratory case study uses an interpretive (qualitative), ethnographic fieldwork research approach to examine a black professor’s perceptions of her interactions with her students during instruction at a PWI. This study yielded eight overarching themes pointing to a generally negative perception of classroom interactions with students. Several key findings aligned with existing literature included white student resistance and problematic responses from department/university administration to these troubling interactions.

Other major findings, such as frustration with black student performance, were unexpected and not discussed in the literature. Additionally, there were several nuances in this informant’s reported experience during instruction that are also essentially absent from the often aggregately reported experiences of black faculty. These included not always being sure how much race (as opposed to other characteristics such as student generational tendencies) actually played a role in her current perceptions, and wondering if she sometimes projected her past racialized experiences onto her present classroom reality. Further, analysis of emergent findings, such as the informant’s perceptions of black students, extends the conversation about the experiences of black professors at PWIs. The dissertation ends with a set of recommendations for black faculty, university administrators, black and white students, and future research.


This is a revised version of the dissertation. The original version may be found under Additional Files.