All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Lee Meadows

Advisory Committee Members

Ann Dominick

Jenna Lachenaye

Susan Spezzini

Taajah Witherspoon

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) School of Education


The need to diversify and retain non-White STEM teachers in the educator workforce has brought to surface the need to more deeply understand why non-White educators choose teaching as a profession and, equally as important, why they choose to stay. Although there is literature documenting the shortages of African American teachers including how African Americans can be recruited and retained, there is a need to look more closely at how African American undergraduate STEM majors who are in innovative teacher preparation programs articulate their affinity to teaching. The following critical narrative study focuses on how pre-service non-White teachers, particularly African American pre-service teachers, describe their identity as mathematics and science educators. Critical race theory (CRT) and Gee’s identity framework serve as the frameworks for the study. Following a critical race counter-story methodology, I investigated how African American STEM majors in an innovative teacher preparation program describe and negotiate their personal and professional educator identities within the context of larger hegemonic social constructions and smaller social interactions while matriculating through an innovative inquiry focused mathematics and science teacher preparation program. Data was collected in the form of two semi-structured interviews per participant, electronic journals, and numerous post-interview conversations. Data was analyzed and member-checked and peer debriefed. The resulting narratives represent complex vignettes of familial and educational experiences leading to participants’ descriptions of their professional educator identities. Five themes emerged from the study: a) attachment, (b) external expectations, (c) perceptions and attitudes toward education as a system, (d) articulations of personal identity, and (e) articulations of professional educator identity.

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