Date of Award


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Education, PhD


School of Educational Studies

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

David Drew

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Gilda Ochoa

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Kyo Yamashiro

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2024 Edward Flores


Civic and Community Engagement, Critical Consciousness, Immigrant Justice, K-12 Ethnic Studies, Youth Participatory Action Research

Subject Categories

Education | Ethnic Studies


The institutionalization of K-12 Ethnic Studies in California Public Schools is the culmination of decades of grassroots community organizing to address inequities between students of color and their advantaged peers. Empirical evidence suggests that K-12 Ethnic Studies courses have positive academic and social outcomes for historically marginalized students, yet limited research documents the pedagogical practices that occur in these courses to develop students' critical consciousness and academic achievement tied to civic and community engagement. Mainstream curricula continue to perpetuate race-neutral pedagogy that does not acknowledge the racialized experiences of students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, making it necessary to offer curricula that supports students critical understanding of racism and intersectional forms of oppression. Using statistical analysis (e.g., stepwise regressions) and in-depth semi-structured interviews, this mixed methods study examines students' perceptions of Ethnic Studies courses and pedagogy to gain further insight into how K-12 Ethnic Studies educators develop students' critical consciousness tied to civic and community engagement. Moreover, the study aims to understand the pedagogical practices of Ethnic Studies teachers to support their students' socio-emotional health and wellness. Specifically, a case study design focused on the experiences of students and educators who used Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) within an Ethnic Studies course to establish an Undocumented Student Resource Center at their school site during the height of the Trump administration. Analysis of survey results using stepwise regressions indicates that the best predictors of academic achievement were feeling more hopeful after completing Ethnic Studies courses, followed by feeling cared for by Ethnic Studies teachers. The best predictors for developing critical consciousness were students' knowledge being respected and valued by their Ethnic Studies teacher and feeling supported with mental health and well-being. Feeling inspired to learn more about social justice issues and increased pride in culture, language, and racial group were the best predictors for civic and community engagement. Qualitative findings indicated that creating a safe and caring space was essential to support student's development of critical consciousness, which was tied to hope and healing as they engaged in meaningful social justice projects in their school and community. Results from this study can provide educators, teacher education programs, and school districts with insight on how to effectively teach Ethnic Studies, which supports the development of student critical consciousness towards social justice through meaningful civic and community engagement.