Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Leadership (Ed.D.)

Type of Paper/Work



Sarah J. Noonan

Second Advisor

Chien-Tzu Candace Chou

Third Advisor

Karen L. Westberg


A case study was conducted to learn about the formation of social justice teachers, and the methods used by radical educators to engage students in social change. Interviews conducted with eight junior and senior high school social studies teachers identified several types of formative experiences inspiring teachers to become radical educators. Personal and family experiences of oppression during their youth and early adult years, childhood multicultural experiences, social activism, volunteerism, and contact with adult mentors influenced teachers to become social justice educators.

Adopting critical thinking as the cornerstone of their social justice practice, social justice teachers employed strategies to foster critical thinking and moral action as a central feature of social justice pedagogy. These included (1) adopting alternative texts and supplemental resources to focus on social justice issues, (2) emphasizing active learning and 21st century learning skills (Rosefsky, Saavedra, & Opfer, 2012), (3) engaging students in service learning and civic action projects, and (4) integrating the arts within the social studies curriculum to raise cultural awareness and appreciation.

Data gathered from interviews, observations, and documents were analyzed using a transformational learning (Mezirow, 2000) and critical thinking theory (Brookfield, 2012). Findings reveal the importance of contact with diverse others and the important role that critical thinking and awareness play in raising social consciousness leading to moral action.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

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