Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)

Degree Level



Curriculum and Instruction


Kevin P. Brady

Committee Member

Smith, Christy

Second Committee Member

Pijanowski, John C.


Cultural, Education, Multicultural, Relevance, Responsiveness, Student Engagement, Student Success


This dissertation is organized into five distinct chapters addressing multiple aspects of learning and engagement as it relates to English Language Learners (ELLs) in the classroom. First, the problem of practice is identified and explored. We, as educators, must look closely at instructional and systemic issues, actionable elements, broader strategies of improvement, and leverage, which refers to the ability of a program to motivate students and to generate a sense of practical value in academics. The next aspect of this dissertation proposal reviews the existing research literature. This literature review focuses on the specific learning needs of ELL students. Specifically addressed is the idea that students engage more as well as more effectively when acquiring academic language, they feel a personal connection to in the curriculum. Using Gloria Ladson-Billings' research into Culturally Relevant Pedagogy (CRP) as a focus, the researcher explores factors that can potentially impact student learning and how to address student needs as they strive to become more multilingual and multicultural. To restate and illustrate these points, a concept map developed by Fenner and Snyder (2017) is presented, which details a schematic overview of the roles of both culturally relevant pedagogy and student agency in the student learning process. This ideal is incorporated into the third chapter where the proposal details student educational experiences to clarify and assess their measurable academic growth in language acquisition. In this chapter, research design, methodology, and the researcher's role are defined to focus on the practical application of data in an applied educational situation. The final two chapters focus on both quantitative and qualitative data from students who participated in focus groups and CRI curriculum designed to both improve their performance on standardized tests and enhance their experiences in classes. This data is further examined and explained as the researcher identifies trends and implications. Finally, recommendations for the long-term implementation of practice are proposed to improve student engagement and success.