Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name



Educational Leadership

Committee Chair

Dr. Peggy M. Delmas


Dr. Nicole Carr, Dr. Gurupreet Khalsa, Dr. Benterah Morton


This narrative study explored the ways in which two Black male undergraduate students experienced and situated their identity in their first-year composition (FYC) courses. The study sought to reveal how the participants experienced stereotype threat in both the classroom and larger community and the ways in which this perceived threat impacted their self-efficacy and sense of belonging. The participants, enrolled in an FYC course for underprepared writers at a southeastern university, were both performing well in the class, thereby providing insight into the factors and experiences that helped mitigate the potential of stereotype threat. In order to more fully understand the ways that they negotiated and perceived their identity, a narrative study was utilized, and the participants were asked to illuminate their larger stories and lived experiences in semi-structured, open-ended interviews. The findings reveal that the participants’ high self-efficacy allowed them to feel a greater sense of belonging in their FYC classroom, both of which helped to protect them from stereotype threats. The role of the instructor in creating an identity-affirming classroom environment also proved instrumental in fostering their sense of belonging in the class. The findings also reveal that despite their overall strong sense of belonging and high self-efficacy in their FYC courses, the participants remained vulnerable to stereotype threats in these spaces. The participants seemed particularly susceptible to intersecting racialized and gendered identity threats, which were activated for them when it came to speaking in their FYC courses. The findings ultimately reveal that mitigating stereotype threat could help to empower this academically vulnerable student population in FYC courses. Finally, recommendations for practice and future research were discussed.