Author ORCID Identifier

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Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Hillary Parkhouse


Over the course of American schooling scholars note that democratic education and citizenship have not been abandoned, but perhaps marginalized or pushed aside, as test scores and achievement have become the most desired outcomes. Democratic education must move out of the margins and into high priority. The current political climate of increased division and divisiveness could not illustrate this need any more. Another well-documented challenge within the American educational system, particularly in high need areas is the need for highly qualified teachers. Urban Teacher Residency (UTR) programs have offered a possible solution to this growing problem in recruiting, training, and retaining highly qualified teachers in urban settings. UTRs are designed to alleviate one of the longstanding education challenges of both, quality and quantity of educators within some of the most underserved schools. While the rise in teacher residency programs, particularly in urban settings, and the marginalization of democratic education may seem unconnected, an effort to illuminate their potential relationships guides this study. Qualitative case study methodology (including analysis of program documents, interviews with teachers, and interviews with staff) was undertaken to understand the inclusion of democratic habits in one UTR, as well as the resulting enactment of democratic education by the UTR residents and alumni in one UTR, Mid-Atlantic Teacher Residency (MATR).

Findings reveal the use of democratic habits by the residents and in the MATR program was mixed. Democratic habits of associated living, collaboration, student voice, critical inquiry, and student-centered learning were the most prevalent through the MATR program components of coursework, mentorship, and the cohort during the residency year. As teachers, the resident alumni exhibited democratic habits through their professional relationships and attitudes towards student-centered instruction, particularly through the use of activities. A few of the alumni exhibited aspects of democratic education through their discussion of social justice and their commitment to citizenship development. Overall, however, limited evidence of a commitment to democratic education was present in the data, which may be in part due to the program’s relatively low emphasis on democratic education. Other barriers that emerged in the data included: classroom management struggles, administrative support and policies, a lack of promoting democratic education through the program, a disconnect from the residents’ coursework to their classroom practices, and being new teachers. While it does not appear that MATR or other UTRs are currently foregrounding democratic education or democratic principles, I close by discussing why UTRs should emphasize democratic education and offering suggestions for how they might do so.


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