Problems facing black male students in K-12 education are as multiple as they are complex. Regarding this issue, the research literature revealed three major themes that came to the foreground: 1) the lack of school engagement, 2) academic achievement gaps, and 3) racism. In response, the purpose of this qualitative research study was to explore the contextual pedagogical influences of Project-Based Learning (PBL) on school engagement, creativity, and problem solving for fourteen black male students in a suburban Minnesota high school. The methodology for this was an instrumental case study (i.e., seeking understanding of phenomena beyond the case itself). Findings in this case revealed that the PBL process in several ways engaged black males. Critical Race Theory combined with contextual pedagogic practice was found to be vital to engaging these students. This study indicated that educators would benefit by examining how to define achievement of black males in light of antiracist teaching practices to foster more opportunities for them to succeed. There was no disruptive behavior observed during the PBL sessions. However, the issue of racial disparity in school suspensions did surface during the study, leading toward discourse about antiracist teaching practice, and policy for school leaders. More research is needed to explore how these approaches can work within the structure of public schools.


Scott Wurdinger

First Committee Member

Candace Raskin

Second Committee Member

Dominic Taylor

Date of Degree




Document Type



Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License



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