Difficult funds of knowledge as pedagogical resources for critical consciousness development

Rebecca Colina Neri (Department of Counseling and Educational Psychology, Indiana University Bloomington, Bloomington, Indiana, USA)

Information and Learning Sciences

ISSN: 2398-5348

Publication date: 26 November 2020



Nondominant youth faces complex structural inequalities and injustices that have a direct impact on their academic learning outcomes and psychosocial well-being. Research suggests that supporting the development of students’ critical consciousness not only improves their educational and career trajectories but also provides students with the tools, language and skills they need to examine, act upon and heal from the sociopolitical realities and injustices they face in their daily lives.


This paper reports findings from a two-year Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) study conducted with students in a police-oriented Career and Technical Education program. YPAR was used as pedagogy for nondominant students to explore how to leverage their funds of knowledge (FK) in their learning and future careers as police officers to improve community–police relations.


This paper reports on one aspect of the findings from the YPAR project that includes: a) the relationship between students’ difficult FK, critical consciousness development and career aspirations; b) how, if left unaddressed, students’ difficult FK could mediate deficit and internally oppressive views of Communities of Color and other nondominant groups; and c) the power of transforming students’ difficult FK into pedagogical assets.


Engaging students’ difficult FK can support critical consciousness development and facilitate students’ ability to navigate and resist oppressive spaces, sustain their well-being and empower themselves and their families and communities.



Neri, R.C. (2020), "Difficult funds of knowledge as pedagogical resources for critical consciousness development", Information and Learning Sciences, Vol. 121 No. 9/10, pp. 749-767. https://doi.org/10.1108/ILS-02-2020-0022

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