Date of Award

Summer 7-1-2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Secondary Education - English (Ed.D)


Secondary and Middle Grades Education

Committee Chair/First Advisor

Jennifer S. Dail, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Rachel E. Gaines, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Darren Crovitz, Ph.D.


This is a qualitative phenomenographic study that uses the theoretical frameworks of Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy (CSP) (Paris, 2012), Intergroup Contact Theory (Allport 1954), and Social Constructivism (Smagorinsky, 2007) to evaluate how 7th grade students at a Title I middle school in the Southeastern United States experience the phenomenon of peer relationships in the context of a CSP writing unit. Students created, peer edited, and shared multimodal “Where I’m From” (Lyon, n.d.) poems in intentionally created groups. The researcher collected data via participant interviews, participant journals, and a researcher reflection journal. Findings indicated that students developed a better understanding of their peers, built connections, felt more comfortable in class, improved their relationships with their peers, and made new friends as a result of the intervention.