Date of Award

Summer 5-21-2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Secondary Education



Committee Chair

Dr. Michelle Head

First Committee Member

Dr. David Buckman

Second Committee Member

Dr. Brian Lawler


As the number of STEM jobs available increases, there is an inherent need to better prepare students to fill these roles. More specifically, as the demographics of our nation and classrooms change, it is of utmost importance to make sure students who identify as people of color are prepared and confident in taking on these roles, but current statistics show that this is not happening. One way to combat this need is to increase the number of highly qualified STEM teachers of color in K–12 classrooms as they have been shown to increase the motivation and confidence of students of color. However, in order to do this, we must first explore how people of color who are academically prepared to pursue teaching in a STEM classroom perceive it as a viable career option. Therefore, this research took a case study approach in order to understand how specific experiences of successful STEM students who identify as people of color influence their perceptions of a career as a STEM teacher. Built within the Expectancy Value and Critical Race Theory frameworks, this study first used a survey to holistically understand and compare students’ perceptions of teaching and their perceptions of an ideal career. Then, participants were purposefully chosen for interviews that further explored the experiences of these students of color within the bounded case and how these experiences impacted their perceptions of teaching and of an ideal career. Survey results revealed that participants had statistically more negative perceptions of teaching than of their ideal careers, but it was found that freshmen in college had statistically more positive views of teaching than the other education subgroups investigated in this study. In the interviews, participants explained that relationships with teachers were one of the most important influencers in their education experiences, and the institutional racism experienced in school makes them shy away from considering teaching as a career. The findings of this dissertation can be used to inform current literature on how changes can be planned to increase the representation of people of color in STEM classrooms and STEM careers.