- This research sought to "get at" students' understandings of their own racial identity development. The limited degree with which participants have been heard and honored in research activities points to the need to inquire about their experiences first-hand, respect their stories, and consider their voices among, or in spite of, the current models that exist. My research efforts drew upon an interpretive design and were enlightened by a variety of theoretical perspectives, mainly critical theory and postmodern feminism. My goals throughout the process were twofold: (a) challenge the dominant discourse and current research as it relates to our knowledge of racial identity development, and (b) employ research methods that are truly liberating in their incorporation of participants' voices and perspectives. In this way, I consider both the findings and research process equally important in this dissertation. The primary data collection method employed within this design was a dialogic interview process with five student participants. I facilitated individual dialogues and group dialogues with the student participants where we discussed a
variety of topics including campus climate for students of color, common shared
experiences, personal identity issues, and emergent issues and themes. Dialogues were not "structured" or "standardized" in any way, but were primarily emergent. I employed a basic thematic analysis method, with participants individually and collectively involved throughout the dialogues in the development, confirmation, and rejection of themes as they relate to their own dialogues.
As a result of the analyses processes, five themes were identified. In drawing on a cross-case analysis of the participants' stories, these five students' stories appear
to challenge the dominant discourse and traditional research in terms of the linearity, universality, and predictability of current racial identity development models. These students' stories reflect a more holistic, fluid, cognitive, and complex process, one that has shared experiences, yet defies the "development" of all-purpose models. Given that we as educators tend to find comfort with and rely upon the predictability and familiarity of traditional developmental models, the implications for being effective and honest in our interaction with students are far-reaching and warrant