Date of Award

Fall 10-13-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctorate of Education, Ed.D.


College of Education



First Advisor

Marty A. Bullis, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Regina Moreno, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

Damara Richen, Ed.D.


This qualitative case study explored the perceptions and practices of three teachers who teach social justice concepts in kindergarten and 2nd-grade classrooms in an urban school district in the Northwest region of the United States. The research sought to answer the following central questions: (a) What do teachers perceive about how instruction on social justice concepts impact early grade learners in classroom settings? (b) What do teachers perceive about how this instruction influences learner perceptions regarding their role in society? Through a three-phase data collection approach that included teacher and parent interviews, teacher observations with observation debrief, and student artifact review, information was gathered to describe how teachers perceive social justice teaching, teaching practices the case study participants used to support social justice teaching, and teachers’ perceptions of child development with regard to social justice capacities. Data analysis showed that participants perceived social justice through a combination of social justice lenses. Teachers perceived the use of literature, class discussion, and current events as essential teaching practices during social justice oriented lessons. The descriptive case study for the three teachers selected revealed five themes through data analysis. Teachers perceived social justice concept instruction as: enhancing students’ skills for participating in a diverse society; growing, challenging, and transforming students’ understanding of the world; fostering awareness of the inequalities and injustices that exist in the world; building empathy; and teachers perceived instruction as empowering students to consider themselves as social actors.