Year of Publication

2016

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

College

Education

Department

Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Dr. Mary Shake

Abstract

This qualitative case study examined the perceptions of 79 elementary teachers regarding their preparation to teach students learning English as a second language (ELLs). The focus of this inquiry centered on factors related to the preparation of teachers for serving non-native English speaking students. The research questions that guided this study are: (a) What are teachers’ perceptions of their preparation for teaching English learners?; (b) What types of preparatory experiences do teachers perceive as supportive of their preparation for teaching ELLs?; and (c) How do teachers’ perceptions of their preparation shape their practices with ELL students?

Findings of this study indicated that most participating teachers perceived that they were not prepared by their teacher education programs for teaching ELL students. Many participants related that they lacked preparatory coursework that included strategies for teaching ELLs, had few observational experiences in classrooms with ELL students, and lacked experiences in working with ELLs during field placements and student teaching. Teachers related that coursework in ESL methods, classroom observations and fieldwork placements in classrooms with ELLs, and hands-on experiences would benefit teachers’ knowledge and skill development for teaching ELLs. Further, teachers’ current classroom practices were consistent with their perceptions of their preparation for teaching ELLs. Focal teachers with perceptions of lower levels of preparation rarely provided alternative forms of assessment, ensured that ELLs comprehended directions, or implemented scaffolding during instruction for ELLs. The focal teacher who perceived that she was extremely well prepared by her teacher education program for teaching ELLs often modeled learning tasks, utilized varied strategies to facilitate comprehensible input, and provided options for alternative assessments for her ELL students.

Teacher educators are encouraged to re-examine their pre-service course objectives and content to ensure that teacher candidates are provided with the knowledge and skills to teach non-native English speaking students. In addition, opportunities for classroom observations and field placements in school contexts with linguistically diverse students are encouraged for all teacher candidates. School administrators are encouraged to provide professional development opportunities that include strategies for teaching ELLs. This study provides additional evidence that classroom teachers may not be adequately prepared by their teacher preparatory programs for meeting the literacy and learning needs of ELL students. Providing teachers with strategies and experiences related to ELL students will enable teachers to meet the language and literacy needs of their non-native English speaking students.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

https://doi.org/10.13023/ETD.2016.531

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