Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Erin Furtak

Second Advisor

Enrique Lopez

Third Advisor

Kris Gutiérrez

Fourth Advisor

Ben Kirshner

Fifth Advisor

Kwame Holmes


The United States current incarcerates more citizens than any other country in history, by disproportionately targeting men and boys of color through mechanisms such as the school to prison pipeline. In better understanding the processes that fuel the school to prison pipeline such as criminalizing practices and the ways boys of color resist them, we can begin to identify teaching practices and perspectives which work to disrupt those processes. Examining criminalization and acts of resistance in STEM education is particularly salient because of the high social and economic status STEM knowledge bears in dominant U.S. culture, and the ways access to STEM learning functions as gateways in our education system. Through a longitudinal study in a multi-site elementary after-school STEM program, I examined what criminalization and acts of resistance look like, the ways they interact, and how staff in the program work to disrupt those cycles. I found that criminalization and acts of resistance are normal and ordinary occurrences, frequently interacting in response to each other in escalating patterns. I also found that staff engaged in multiple categories of decriminalizing practices based on highly respectful interactions and viewing boys of color as brilliant students who engage in acts of resistance as a healthy response to oppressive measures.