Graduation Year


Document Type

Master's Thesis


Master of Science



Program Director

Jennifer Lucko, PhD

First Reader

Matthew Davis, PhD

Second Reader

Rebecca Birch, EdD


This research explored reflective writing as a tool for understanding critical consciousness, with 10th and 11th-grade history students as a form of engaged research toward understanding self-efficacy and civic agency. It was situated in a framework of Critical Race Theory (Bryant et. al., 2015) critical consciousness (Furman, 2012; Shih, 2018), and Participatory Action Research (Maguire, 1987). Through in-depth interviews, focus groups and reflective writing prompts with 9 students and a faculty member, the findings showed that the deprecation of youth’s voice by adults affects youth’s sense of self-efficacy and perceived abilities to create meaningful change. It was further found that youth embrace, affirm, and desire change, but find that adults, in their words, have “fixed mindsets”. Student participants also enumerated a value to the practice and pursuit of research when developing their worldviews when they also believe that this work will lead to meaningful change in their communities and more specifically their schools. These findings have important implications for how reflective practices can be used in the classroom to further student understandings of structures of power and self-efficacy, and how school districts and educational policymakers can empower students with the opportunity for civic engagement.

IRB Number


Available for download on Friday, October 21, 2022