Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Kathleen Van Horn


Given the ongoing demographic transformations of U.S classrooms, knowledge of the strategies teachers use to address the vocabulary needs of English language learners (ELLs) is central for improving student outcomes. The problem in a Georgia school system was that ELLs were not building grade-level appropriate vocabulary at a pace comparable to that of their peers. The purpose of this qualitative study was to identify strategies that increase the rate of vocabulary acquisition for ELLs. In this study, 10 third grade teachers were asked about their understanding of the second language vocabulary acquisition process, which vocabulary strategies they were using to address the specific needs of these students, and the outcomes of these strategies on student learning. Three qualitative instruments were used for methodological triangulation: survey, interview, and observation. Data were analyzed using thematic coding to organize the participants' answers by naturally occurring themes. A central finding was that most teachers reported that they supplemented the existing curriculum with materials from various sources, including websites, previous curriculum, and collaboration with other teachers. The culminating project may bring positive social change via the creation of a peer professional development blog, which will provide one common place teachers in the district can turn to share successful strategies and get ideas for supplementing instruction. This project could be made public to include teachers from around the country to reach a larger group of people.