Date of Award

December 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Urban Education

First Advisor

Barbara Bales

Committee Members

Linda Post, Debora Wisneski, Jeffrey Hawkins, Joseph Rodriguez


Culturally Responsive Pedagogy, Liminal Space, Pedagogical Content Knowledge, Preservice Teachers, Teacher Education, Urban Education


A tremendous cultural richness exists throughout today's urban communities. From language, race, culture, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status, PK-12 pupils enter the classroom with a multitude of lived experiences and academic proficiencies. In particular, it is the range of academic proficiencies and the inadequate preparation of urban educators that perpetuates a visibly widening achievement gap between urban pupils and their suburban counterparts. Add to this a skeleton curriculum and endless high-stakes assessment exams, the future success of urban pupils becomes bleak. A deep foundation in pedagogical content knowledge (PCK), also known as the amalgam of rich content knowledge and pedagogical knowledge, becomes imperative for the successful preparation of future urban educators. Thus, this collective case study served as a vehicle to investigate how urban, pre-service teachers constructed and internalized an awareness of the complexities of teaching, learning, and PCK during a subject-specific pedagogy lab. These pedagogy labs focused on the subject areas of Political Science, Chemistry/Biochemistry, Environmental Science, and Mathematics, and acted as spaces where university students and faculty had opportunities to confront, construct, and reinvent teaching practices imperative for PK-12 urban pupil success. Each pedagogy lab was constructed and facilitated by two university instructors; one instructor had experience with the particular content and the other instructor had experience with the particular pedagogy. During the five weeks of each lab, pre-service teachers engaged in a space of liminality where they participated in critical discourse surrounding the various dimensions of becoming a teacher. Three common themes of: making content relevant, inquiry-based teaching, and reflections of self as an educator emerged as the skills and traits necessary for today's developing educator. For individuals who were considering a profession in teaching, the participants of this study were advanced with their assertions of best teacher practice. The faculty and instructors who facilitated these pedagogy labs also experienced their own space of liminality as they participated in cross-disciplinary collaboration surrounding the dimensions of PCK. As such, a revision of the PCK framework emerged, which includes newly refined facets for the preparation of urban teachers. Those facets: knowledge of self as an educator, knowledge of culturally responsive teaching, knowledge of inquiry teaching, and knowledge of content and student learning realign to establish a brilliant skill set embodying content, pedagogy, and cultural responsiveness. As such, these facets fuse together to provide the opportunity to reemphasize a deeper development of culturally responsive pedagogical content knowledge (CRPCK), applicable for every urban classroom and the foundation for every burgeoning educator.