Term of Award

Fall 2023

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Curriculum Studies (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


College of Education

Committee Chair

Ming Fang He

Committee Member 1

Sabrina Ross

Committee Member 2

Michelle Reidel

Committee Member 3

Sonia Janis

Committee Member 3 Email


Non-Voting Committee Member

Brian Schultz


This dissertation is an ethnographic inquiry in which I explore the third-grade social studies curriculum in my classroom, specifically using culturally relevant/responsive/sustaining pedagogy and students’ funds of knowledge (González, Moll, & Amanti, 2005) and their learning interests to teach the Native American unit to promote their academic achievement in, cultural competence and critical consciousness for, the histories of the United States. It was my own miseducation about the history of the United States and its Indigenous Peoples, as well as my own lack of knowledge of my Indigenous ancestors from Mexico, that I became passionate about exploring this topic. Theoretically, my research builds upon the literature of culturally relevant/responsive/sustaining pedagogy (Gay, 2018; González, Moll, & Amanti, 2005; Ladson-Billings, 2009, Ladson-Billings, 2021; Paris & Alim, 2017) and critical social studies (Dunbar- Ortiz, 2014; Parker, 2015; Ross, 2014; Zinn, 2015). Methodologically, my research builds upon ethnographic studies with young children (He & Phillion, 2008; Igoa, 1995; Schultz, 2008; Soto & Swadener, 2005; Valdés, 2001; Valenzuela, 1999). While much research has been done on social studies education, there is little research being done on elementary social studies, primarily using ethnographic inquiry methods with young children. Additionally, much of the current research on culturally relevant/responsive/sustaining pedagogy focuses on the aspect of student engagement, leaving a gap in the literature for research that focuses on the achievement of young learners. It is hoped that this study will lead to an increase in the cultural competence of the participants regarding Native Americans’ histories and cultures and an increase in student engagement during social studies instruction. This study will also contribute to improving the social studies curriculum at the elementary level as an example for teachers regarding the use of funds of knowledge and culturally relevant/responsive/sustaining teaching practices to maximize student learning and achievement.

OCLC Number


Research Data and Supplementary Material