Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Ed.D. in Education


Leadership and Counselor Education

First Advisor

Amy E. Wells Dolan

Second Advisor

Whitney Webb

Third Advisor

Neal Hutchens

Relational Format



The purpose of this descriptive, exploratory action research study, using both qualitative and quantitative methods, was to identify students at risk of failure on a post-graduate licensure exam and to develop and implement improvement models to improve exam performance. The participants were alumni of the funeral service technology program at Northwest Mississippi Community College. African American graduates of this vocational course failed at increasingly disparate rates above Caucasian graduates in the national board licensing examination, despite commensurate post-secondary scholastic achievement. The quantitative research portion of the study statistically analyzed student performance measures in funeral service classes to reveal areas of dissimilar performance divided by race. The focus of the qualitative research portion of the study included interviewing program graduates to reveal perceptions of former students, surveying course documents, and examining learning spaces, utilizing a contextual framework of critical race theory and culturally relevant pedagogy (Bell, 2002; Ladson-Billings, 1996). To improve learning outcomes, as information was gathered, practical techniques were garnered to improve learning outcomes and enhance favorable student results on the final standardized test.


Higher Education



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