Date of Award

Spring 6-10-2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD) in Education


College of Education, Doctoral Program

First Advisor

Amira Proweller

Second Advisor

Donna Y. Ford

Third Advisor

Anita Bucio


The purpose of this qualitative study was to understand the social and academic experiences of Black students in AP English classes at a diverse suburban high school. This study aimed to illuminate their experiences while giving voice to this traditionally marginalized group. Students provided recommendations for increasing academic success and belonging for future students as schools continually work toward gender and racial equity in the AP classroom. In this Critical Race Theory (CRT) oriented study, I sought to understand the essence of the Black experience in predominantly White academic spaces through a phenomenological methodology. I analyzed the significant moments and statements that the participants shared about their experiences with the curriculum, grading, and social interactions in the classroom. The presence and absence of belonging are fundamentally related to the students’ racial identity and to students’ academic success. The participants revealed the hardships that they endured, like invisibility, isolation, silence, and fear, while sharing how those experiences impacted their academics and social-emotional well-being. They also revealed the moments of social-emotional connection and joy that they felt with their teachers and peers.