Robert Kerlin

Date of Award

Fall 2023

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Educational Studies

First Advisor

Todd Lilly


This qualitative action research study investigated employee reactions, motivations, and perspectives toward employer-sponsored diversity training programs. Through a qualitative exploratory case study, this research study explored the perceptions of how a diverse sampling of people individually, negotiate identities in corporate and education fields where those in control must both accommodate and placate in order to maintain institutional objectives. In order to further explore this topic, a theoretical framework consisting of self-determination theory and culturally relevant pedagogy served as the primary method to guide the research question, literature reviews, and data design, collection, and analysis process. Self-determination theory provided the primary motivational factors for employees. Culturally relevant pedagogy provided the primary justification for moving forward by emphasizing the need for curriculum developers to think about learning and cultural differences and always with an eye out for equity and social justice. This qualitative action research study utilized one-on-one interviews as the primary data collection method. The findings of this study indicate that while most of the research participants agreed on the importance of including a DEI-supportive curriculum, the appropriateness level, professionalism, and mandatory nature of DEI training programs were in question. Therefore, a gap still exists between acknowledging and applying what employees are learning and what employers desire.


© 2024, Robert Kerlin