Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Education/Higher Education PhD

First Advisor

John Saltmarsh

Second Advisor

Tara L. Parker

Third Advisor

Lorna Rivera


Given the shifting demographics of the U.S. population, and the growing Latinx population, colleges and universities are likely to see growth in Latinx students to continue; therefore, it is critical that institutions of higher education create educational environments where Latinx students can thrive. The literature suggests that classroom spaces grounded in culturally relevant and culturally sustaining pedagogies are more likely to align with the epistemologies of Latinx students, and therefore, are more likely to support their success and achieve inclusive excellence. However, most faculty members are unprepared to practice this type of pedagogy, and little is known about how to support faculty in making culturally relevant pedagogical shifts. To contribute to a theoretical shift toward more inclusive and culturally-based methods for educating Latinx students, this study utilizes a Critical Race-Grounded Theory approach in partnership with LatCrit and the Latino Cultural Wealth framework to explore the ways in which exceptional faculty in public Hispanic-Serving community colleges successfully bridge theory and practice to enact culturally sustaining praxis. Five exceptional community college faculty working in Hispanic-Serving Institutions participated in the study. Over a period of six months, data rooted in three manifestations of culturally sustaining teaching practices was collected and analyzed.

Initial findings suggest that high-impact practices proven to support student learning do not in and of themselves result in exceptional learning and development for Latinx students. Rather, it is the use of effective teaching strategies in service of advancing a core set of epistemic values that are manifested in the form of pedagogical stances that not only align with Latinx epistemologies, but support and sustain them. A set of six shared epistemic values and eighteen pedagogical stances of faculty participants are explored.

Additional findings move beyond student-facing work to assert that culturally sustaining praxis is a pervasive and comprehensive phenomena in the lives of faculty participants that impacts the ways in which they experience and navigate academia. While culturally sustaining pedagogies served as assets to student-facing work; only barriers emerged as common findings across the participant group in navigating their institutions and careers. An examination of the intersection between the ways in which faculty conceptualize and enact culturally sustaining pedagogies and the ways in which faculty are impacted professionally by these same concepts and actions is presented in a framework of holistic culturally sustaining praxis.

A theory of Culturally Sustaining Praxis is presented as multi-directional and calls for an epistemic shift from a focus on culturally sustaining classrooms to a culturally sustaining campus environment. Culturally Sustaining Praxis creates intentional puentes between epistemic values, pedagogical stances and cultural wealth that result in culturally sustaining learning environments that support all campus members in becoming agents of counter-hegemony, in that they possess values, skills and ways of knowing that enable them to dismantle systemic inequities on and off campus. Areas for further research are discussed in the form of a call to action with implications for learning environments that extend to curricular and co-curricular spaces as well as administrative policies, procedures and practices.


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