Document Type



Doctor of Education



Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

Matthew D. Davis, PhD


Carl Hoagland

June Christian

April Regester


This study investigated the dynamics of power available to students who are assigned to participate in small group instruction as an intervention to low academic scores. It proposes that student experiences of the phenomenon of small group instruction are not currently present in the research literature concerning low student performance in public education, and therefore the research literature is incomplete. A case study was conducted at a public school in St. Louis, Missouri, which resulted in a case of two teachers and five students recruited to participate. Through document analysis, classroom observations, and participant interviews, the participants provided data from which inferences, implications, and conclusions about the status quo of student participation were uncovered. The theoretical framework through which these status quos were uncovered included Critical Race Theory, which led to a study design based on Patricia-Hill Collins' Four Domains of Power used as lenses to define as well as highlight the intersections of social location within an institution. These lenses were then used to further understand the social location thus the agency of students within the institution of public education. The findings depicted a matrix of status quos in which students are acted upon in order to integrate them into the current society and its norms, rather than realize themselves in order to further become conscious and critical actors unto themselves.

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