Date of Award

Fall 10-24-2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Secondary Education



Committee Chair

Jennifer Dail, Ph.D.

First Committee Member

Robert Montgomery, Ph.D.

Second Committee Member

Daphne Hubbard, Ph.D.


Project-based learning (PBL) has become standard practice in STEM classes reflecting a focus on critical thinking and collaborative skills required by the changing workforce. English Language Arts classes should offer more PBL opportunities; however, ELA teachers are often hesitant to implement PBL because of a fear of risk-taking, a concern for turning over curriculum choices to students, an acknowledgement of the role that standardized testing plays on student achievement and teacher accountability, and a lack of professional development training. This phenomenological study examines how 18 students take up critical literacy practices using PBL in the form of a pop-up museum protocol in four secondary ELA classes. Three pop-up museums culminated in students creating and displaying persuasive writing samples and meme artifacts, while one pop-up museum exhibited the findings of service-learning projects. This study revealed overwhelmingly positive accounts of PBL as an instructional approach from the teachers and the student participants. Interviews with two teachers and 18 purposely sampled students revealed that the participants were engaged in deeper, more fulfilling learning. The instructional spaces moved from classrooms as traditional first space locations to ecoscapes like social networks in third space as students created, curated, and hosted museums for their peers and their community. Although time and technology were factors in implementation, ELA classes and other subject areas that adopt the pop-up museum protocol will experience students’ shifts in identity, perception, and dispositions as they express their critical literacy practices.