Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Richard Penny


At an urban high school in Georgia, test scores of incoming ninth graders were especially low. The purpose of this basic qualitative research study was to explore language art teachers' preparedness for, perceptions of, and experiences with inquiry-based teaching at that school to determine if inclusion of such methods could improve student learning. Identifying means of improving students’ English language arts proficiency is important to not only academic success but also to success in the workplace later in life. The conceptual framework for this study was based on the discovery learning theory of Bruner. Research questions guiding this study focused on language art teacher’s preparedness, perceptions, and experiences regarding inquiry-based learning (IBL). The research study was a basic qualitative research study; the methodology included a purposeful sample of eight language art teachers who provided reading instruction to ninth grade language students and who participated in semistructured interviews. Teachers responded to 14 interview questions related to the three research questions and were allowed to follow up to clarify their responses if they wished. Interview data were open coded and thematically analyzed; using typological analysis, I coded responses into eight themes that emerged from the data. The findings allowed me to identify issues such as misunderstandings as to what IBL is, perceived training deficiencies, and time constraints in using IBL, as well as the general perception that the methodology, properly applied, does result in improved student engagement and skill development. This has implications not only for education, but for society, as students develop critical thinking, communication, problem solving, and other vital skills.

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