Date of Award

Spring 2023

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Education, PhD


School of Educational Studies

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Marva Cappello

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Emilie Reagan

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Gwen Garrison

Terms of Use & License Information

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Rights Information

© 2023 Charlene E. Holkenbrink-Monk


Critical pedagogy, Social studies, Teaching, Youth activism, Youth participatory action

Subject Categories

Education | Sociology


Education reform has been at the forefront of educational research for decades, depicted by government initiatives and policy, research, and pedagogical changes and recommendations. When considering elements of educational change, policy, best practices, and individual merit and retention have also been heavily in the spotlight, such as A Nation at Risk, No Child Left Behind , and other policies that have been put forward. What is often left out is student voice, both within policy as well as ideas around what should be changed. Based on my pilot study, I found that students also did not feel adequately represented in the curriculum, which is what informed this study. Centering a sociological imagination within the context of praxis, I then designed a youth participatory action research (YPAR) study. By utilizing a YPAR approach to design a standards-based curriculum in the form of lessons, I worked with nine high school graduates of 2022 to analyze California State 12 th grade Social Studies standards and design curriculum that disrupts cultural capital by centering community cultural wealth. Through standards analysis, curriculum design, workshops, and dialogue, I found that this group of 9 youth had a foundational understanding of systemic influence, but had not been in a position to expand and further develop their sociological imagination. In addition, as a research team, we found many seemingly neutral findings within the California State Standards. These findings helped inform our curriculum design as it centered students’ experiences to reflect on what they had not been exposed to and incorporate ways they could include critical and sociologically imaginative concepts within lessons. Independent from the team, I found not only innovative and insightful ways to foster a sociological imagination, but that collaboration is key, and that youth do want to see social change. Bringing everything together, I have found that YPAR does have a way to disrupt cultural capital, and in turn, create an environment that help youth feel welcome, included, and heard. The outcome of these findings created deliverables in the form of a redesigned survey, lesson plans, and implications for future research.