Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2019

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



The overarching aim of the dissertation is to interrogate the interactional dynamics contributing to the over disciplining of Black students and to contextualize those interactional dynamics within the meso- and macro-level forces that constrain and sustain them. Along with other populations of American students, Black students are disproportionately disciplined even when controlling for poverty, academic achievement, and rates of misbehavior. Black students, however, deserve particular attention because of the unique macro-cultural presence of antiblackness within American schools. Utilizing three distinct data collection techniques—a survey with racial priming, focus groups, and classroom videoing—this dissertation investigates if and how certain psychological and sociological phenomena on a micro-level perpetuate or disrupt ‘the hyper-disciplining of Black students.’

The dissertation consists of three studies. The first study uses ethnographic microanalysis of social interaction to complicate how bias, either implicit or explicit, is identified within educator discourse, as well as how bias acts as an interactional resource for teachers. The second study uses bivariate statistical analysis with randomized survey design to understand if, when, and how implicit racial bias impacts student-teacher disciplinary interactions. Finally, the third study uses ethnographic microanalysis of video-derived classroom data to study how culturally relevant student-teacher disciplinary interactions might mitigate the hyper-disciplining of Black students.

The dissertation has seven major empirical findings. (1) In one predominately Black high school, educators rely on racially-coded stereotypic discourse, motivated by explicit or implicit bias, to describe students and their school’s disciplinary climate. (2) During educator-educator interactions, racially-coded stereotypic discourse, motivated by explicit or implicit bias, facilitates educator bonding. (3) Teachers may lower behavioral standards for Black students in an attempt to override implicit anti-Black biases. (4) Teachers’ implicit processes are more likely to impact punitive disciplinary decisions than rehabilitative ones. (5) Culturally relevant student- teacher disciplinary interactions show micro-level evidence of success and may be one pragmatic path forward for advocates looking to stymie the hyper-disciplining of Black students. In order to reach a level of interactional success, culturally relevant discipline (6) must support Black students’ identities as learners and also (7) necessitates a fully developed critical consciousness of the teacher.

The findings of these three studies generate knowledge about how macro-cultural forces like antiblackness are sustained or disrupted on an everyday basis in schools. The dissertation has implications for how students, educators, and policy-makers can understand and react to the hyper-disciplining of Black students. It concludes with recommendations for each stakeholder group based off of the novel findings of the three studies.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Rowhea Elmesky

Committee Members

Carol Camp Yeakey, William F. Tate, Crystal Laura, Ebony Duncan-Shippy,


Permanent URL: https://doi.org/10.7936/dged-7x10

Available for download on Monday, May 15, 2119

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