Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Jagger, Carla B.

Committee Member

Peterson, Donna J.

Committee Member

Denny, Marina D.

Committee Member

Seal, Susan D.

Committee Member

Vincent, Stacy K.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Agricultural Extension and Education

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Agriculture and Life Sciences


School of Human Sciences


Culturally responsive teaching (CRT) was birthed from the framework of multicultural education. Multicultural Education is a broad framework that focuses on equity amongst race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomics, disabilities, and other groups who identified as marginalized. Culturally responsive teaching encompasses the ability to acknowledge cultural differences, expand diversity of thought, all while having a caring relationship with students. The literature says that both of the multicultural education and CRT, help foster inclusive classrooms and spaces on campus. CRT also notes that a teacher’s ability to care about students influences positive outcomes for learning. For the last 30 years, CRT has been studied from the perspective of K-12 students. While this research is important the researcher argues that culturally responsive teaching is needed at the university. All research questions for this study were created through the lens of multicultural education, CRT, and Nodding’s Caring Theory. Since CRT is typically examined with minority students only, the researcher explored both minority and White students at Mississippi State University to understand if the techniques were equitable and inclusive for all learners. A total of eight focus groups were held between Fall 2017 to Fall 2019 with 39 total participants, undergraduate (n=28) and graduate students (n= 11). Participants included mostly minority students (n=21) and females (n= 21). While there were some major differences between undergraduate and graduate CRT experiences, there were more commonalities that arose when theming occurred. Students from all focus groups were able to identify at least five out of the six characteristics of culturally responsive teaching; however, minority students were able to talk about feelings of exclusion inside and outside of the classroom, as it pertained to the racial and ethnic identity. Minority students were better able to identify what culturally responsive teaching means and what it looks like in practice. Minority students were also more reflective in their responses around feeling included and excluded both inside and outside of the classroom. All students wanted a teacher that cared for them and to make the course material relevant to their lives.