Department of Conflict Resolution Studies Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Conflict Analysis & Resolution


Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Dustin Berna

Second Advisor

Elena P. Bastidas

Third Advisor

Cheryl L. Duckworth


Conflict resolution between culture and academia, Culturally responsive teaching/pedagogy, high school cultural sensitivity programs, high school student dropouts, Latino high school student cross-case analysis, Latino high school students at risk


The purpose of this qualitative research study employing a cross-case analysis on previous case studies is to better understand the engagement of Latino students in a small number of cultural sensitivity programs and the teaching practices that are factors in the development of their academic achievement. In the traditional infrastructure of public schools, assimilation is built on fundamental values aligned with the U.S. political establishment rather than on the value of adaptation to the demands and conflicts of other cultures. Thus, less-empowered groups are at a disadvantage resulting in subgroups abandoning their ideas and reducing their contributions to human capital. In this study, the focus is alternative programs, specifically programs in which a there is a balance in the learning process between the teacher and student emphasizing the development of enhanced understanding of the cultural contexts an integral part of academic learning for Mexican American students. Also included in the case studies are innovative intervention programs that specifically help students improve academic achievement in Grades 9-12, especially those for students who are Mexican immigrants or of Mexican American ancestry in the state of California. The literature discusses concepts of assimilation, enculturation, oppression, culture capital, and the high and low contexts within the theoretical framework. Empirical literature revealed a deeper understanding of the relationship between Latino student learning styles and the dominant Eurocentric traditional academic culture within classroom practices. In sum, in the cross-case analysis of the 21 case studies, various features emerged across the cases that were categorized into three general themes: (a) alternative interventions, (b) caring, and (c) culturally responsive teaching/pedagogy.

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