Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Education/Leadership in Urban Schools

First Advisor

Joseph Check

Second Advisor

Carol L. Colbeck

Third Advisor

Samuel Museus


This study of teachers' perceptions, intended responses, and multicultural education, is grounded in theories about attribution and critical race. Attribution theory attempts to explain the reasons for teachers' reactions to students' behavior within the context of the classroom. Critical race theory challenges and transforms the relationships among race, power, and racism. My study is informed by critical race theory in reassessing the relationship between teachers, students, and schools as it pertains to race. This reassessment has particular relevance given that, according to critical race theory, all teachers are part of a deeply racist and Eurocentric system.

Teachers' perceptions and intended responses of students may have been influenced by their experiences with multicultural education demographic characteristics and dispositions. Teachers' perceptions and responses were also likely influenced by students' demographic characteristics and ambiguous classroom behavior. A teacher who had pre-service multicultural education tends to minimize discipline referrals and raise achievement.

This qualitative study explored teachers' perceptions of and intended responses to students' ambiguous behaviors by collecting data from teachers' interviews. One rationale was to understand why teachers refer African American males for disciplinary action for behavior at rates that are three to six times the rate for White males of the same age and grade level.

This exploratory study's findings centered on teachers' perceptions that Black Males might be embarrassed, uncomfortable and frustrated. This study also found that teachers responded to Black Males by initiating academic interventions and taking them aside for one-on-one conferencing. These findings may be the result of teachers' good judgment that stems from well-designed multicultural training and education, or quite possibly the poor judgment of misguided teachers that can lead to low expectations for Black Males.

The study's implications for practice would be to implement teacher training preparation that prompts pre-service teachers to use caution when making attributions about student behavior on the basis of gender and ethnicity. Implications for future research include a possible need for an in-depth study of how teachers perceive their self-efficacy. Investigation of teachers' beliefs about their capacity to motivate students to excellence might clarify how teachers form attributions and apply them to student achievement. Implications for research on academic optimism might center on teachers' responses to student success.


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