Date of Award

Spring 2020

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science


Psychology and Educational Studies

First Advisor

Daniel Douglas

Second Advisor

Jack Dougherty


Culturally responsive pedagogy attempts to dismantle the racist structures that uphold the educational system. It acknowledges that the experiences, cultures, and traditions of marginalized communities are often missing from schooling, and tries to incorporate them by altering curriculum and day-to-day classroom practices (Ladson-Billings, 1995). However, little research has examined whether and how teachers of color utilize culturally relevant pedagogy. Jumpstart is a national program that seeks to equalize educational opportunity in pre-kindergarten by providing language and literacy services as well as social and emotional development (Jumpstart, 2019). I, therefore, posited the following research questions: How does Jumpstart Hartford utilize culturally responsive pedagogy? How do Jumpstart members understand culturally responsive pedagogy? How do members Jumpstart Hartford believe that they embody the various aspects of culturally responsive pedagogy? In order to assess their utilization and conceptualization of the practice, I conducted semi-structured interviews with Jumpstart Hartford administrators and Corps members. Interviews focused on their positionality, their classroom practices, and their navigation of classroom spaces. Jumpstart Hartford staff emphasized the social-emotional aspects of learning and cultural synchronicity in student-teacher relationships. Staff deemphasized the importance of physical materials. These findings do not disqualify Ladson-Billings’ notions of culturally responsive pedagogy, but provide a different perspective about the practice within non-traditional classroom settings. Practically, since it targets children who are often disregarded by the educational system, introducing Jumpstart as a full-day pre-kindergarten or incorporating its curriculum into preschool programs could be an important step in helping marginalized students find their voice in schooling.


Senior project completed at Trinity College, Hartford, CT for the degree of Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Educational Studies.