Social Work


Spring 5-2020

Degree Name

Doctor of Social Work (DSW)

Type of Paper/Work

Banded Dissertation


Mari Ann Graham


This banded dissertation examines the challenges and barriers inherent to the complex process of critical consciousness development in undergraduate social work students. The research explores teaching methods and other suggestions for overcoming these obstacles. The assumptions used to guide this research stem from the Critical Consciousness Conceptual Model created by Pitner and Sakamoto (2016, 2005), which is based on Paulo Freire’s concept of conscientização.

The first product of this banded dissertation is a conceptual article that presents problemposing education as a prime teaching method to facilitate consciousness raising. Problem-posing education is a liberatory method that counters the standard banking model of education that sees students as “empty vessels” and professors as experts. The author argues that educators can maximize engagement of undergraduate students in consciousness raising by utilizing the Critical Consciousness Conceptual Model to guide implementation of problem-posing education.

The second scholarly product is a qualitative phenomenological inquiry that explores how undergraduate social work instructors experience obstacles in facilitating consciousness raising in students, as well as methods to overcome these obstacles. Key discoveries include affective challenges, challenges and barriers due to socialization, challenges of perception, educational barriers, and group identity. Identified methods of promoting consciousness raising include use of self-reflection, encouraging students to “do their own work”, modeling, and vulnerability.

The final product in the banded dissertation is a personal narrative reflection. In this reflection, the author describes the process of critical consciousness development and its importance for educators, highlighting particular points of emphasis in her own journey of consciousness raising. The author also reflects on how this journey has influenced her evolving teaching pedagogy.

This research provides practical support for instructors facilitating consciousness raising in their students. Results are unique and important for three reasons. First, weighing educator perception of obstacles to consciousness raising addresses a large gap in the literature, as most existing literature focuses on student perception. Second, it provides practical classroom approaches for success in facilitating this complex process. Third, it provides a model for the kind of critical reflection and vulnerability that consciousness raising requires.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 License

Available for download on Tuesday, May 21, 2024

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