Current Doctoral Student Research | Cultural Foundations | Kent State University

Current Doctoral Student Research

N.J. Akbar - Black male academic success

NJ AkbarN.J. is interested in Black male academic success throughout their educational careers (K-16). He focuses on utilizing Critical Race Theory as an approach to reframing the impact of positive adult/parental engagement (including fictive kinship) on the college decision making process during adolescence and persistence while in college. N.J. is also exploring the influence of pedagogical practices on marginalizing the marginalized in online courses. This has led him to investigate the impact that the identity self-disclosure decision making process has on underrepresented students' engagement in online courses. 

Suliman Al Musaiteer - Saudi teachers' identity and morale

Suliman taught high school English for three years before becoming a faculty member at the university level in his home country of Saudi Arabia. After finishing his PhD, he will return to Saudi Arabia to teach foundational courses to pre-service and in-service teachers . Hence, he is interested in teacher identity, teacher morale, and teacher agency among Saudi teachers. He would like to understand what are the components of Saudi teacher identity; what demoralizes them; what increases their morale; what can we do to cultivate their agency and morale. His PhD in cultural foundations will equip him with lenses to understand, analyze and criticize what's taken for granted in his society and culture. It will enable him to help his student teachers to cultivate their agency and voice.

Antonius Bragg - Social/cultural capital of the academically successful African-American male student

Antonios BraggAntonious is exploring the Social/Cultural Capital of the Academically Successful African-American Male Student.

Using a qualitative case study along with elements of Critical Social Research (Critical Race Theory), Participatory Youth Action and Multicultural Theory, Antonious examines the effects of accumulated social/cultural capital on the academic success of seven African-American male university students from impoverished neighborhoods, who attended and graduated from a performing arts high school in Cleveland, Ohio. 

Jasmine Ferguson - Student experiences of racial microaggressions in suburban schools


Jasmine seeks to understand the ways in which minority students in suburban school districts experience racial microaggression during their interactions with faculty, staff and other district personnel.  Through interviews with high school students, she plans to discover the ways in which students interpret these microaggressions and how their internalization of the teachers' perceptions impact academic achievement. She would like to focus her work in a way that creates an awareness of those practices that may adversely affect students of color in the hopes that it will increase a sense of inclusiveness and positively impact academic achievement.

Paul J. Geis – Fear in education

Paul GeisPaul is interested in pervasive issues of fear in US society and their manifestations in the educational context.  He is particularly interested in discourse around concepts of protection, safety, and security in the university setting, specifically in education abroad.  Paul comes to the PhD program in Cultural Foundations after more than fifteen years of professional work in international education at three universities.  He plans to return to the same field as a senior administrator and active researcher. 

Jaietta Jackson - Collegiate success of Black males from single parent female households

Jaietta's line of inquiry includes the exploration of collegiate success of black males from single parent female households. Many studies have been conducted to show why these males have failed educationally. Studies also indicate that the lack of a father in the household is influential in educational failure. Because there is overwhelming research regarding the educational failure of black male, Jaietta seeks to examine the opposite perspective. She is exploring the educational success of black males while at the same time analyzing how single mother parenting influences the collegiate success of black males.

Ruth Joy - Promoting citizenship through Catholic education

Ruth is interested in the ways we educate kids for citizenship, Catholic education, and teacher preparation. Her focus right now is on the meaning and effects of school ethos as she proposes the answer to this question:

Almost four decades of studies, using a variety of measures and definitions of good citizenship, have found that Catholic schools do a better job of educating kids to be citizens than any other kind of school. Ruth is proposing an answer to the question: How can a set of universal ideas (found in the teaching of the Catholic Church) so successfully promote a specifically American understanding of citizenship?

Ruth has been a public and parochial school classroom teacher and school principal. She began her doctoral program in Curriculum & Instruction, but came to Cultural Foundations when she realized what she was truly interested in were the Big Questions.

Jon Judy - Intersections between education and popular culture

Jon is exploring the intersections between education and popular culture/children's media use, particularly pro-social television.


Kate Klonowski - Development of student voice and agency through student media

Kate is exploring the development of student voice and agency through student media production.

Student voices are potentially a powerful force in bridging gaps in inequity through intercultural exchange which challenges political and educational mindsets. Kate seeks to find the most effective methods of encouraging intercultural deliberation and social understanding through independent, collaborative student media. Her pilot project in which students from two schools worked under this model resulted in a joint publication shared throughout the city to extend the conversation. 

Dana Lawless Andric - Higher education access

Dana is exploring the answers to these questions: To whom is access to higher education granted?  Who is not accessing higher education? Should “college” be promoted for all?  What are societal & democratic implications?  If not, then how is it determined who should go to college? Given over 70 years of federal investments in promoting access and educational opportunity in higher education, why does inequity still persist in enrollment, persistence and graduation rates within particularly groups characterized by socioeconomic backgrounds; race and ethnicity; and, generational educational attainment? What are the social justice implications when institutions of higher education seek to put the onus of one’s ability to access and succeed in higher education solely on the individual without recognition of systemic barriers and embedded power structures that may work against the success of certain groups?