Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Peter Kiriakidis


The problem is that Dominican student immigrants enrolling in Puerto Rican high

schools need to be English proficient and the English as second language program (ESL)

is not effectively supporting these students to develop English proficiency to graduate

from the target high school. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to understand

the perceptions of Dominican immigrant ESL students regarding motivators and

demotivators in ESL classes to develop English proficiency at the target site. Using

Krashen's conceptual framework, students' perceptions of motivators and demotivators

regarding ESL classes, and their suggestions for improving the ESL instruction were

explored. A qualitative case study design, using purposeful sampling was used to collect

data through semi structured one-on-one interviews from 8 ESL students who met the

criteria of being a Dominican ESL student and being 18 years or older. Data were

analyzed using ATLAS.ti 7. The findings indicated more time and instructional support

was needed for ESL students to develop English proficiency and targeted professional

development was needed for the ESL teachers. Themes emerging from the findings were

that ESL teachers should (a) use motivators and specific instructional strategies, (b) be

aware of demotivators, and that (c) additional instructional time was needed to improve

students' English proficiency. A white paper with recommendations to improve ESL

instruction developed to present to district stakeholders. The adoption of these

recommendations will result in social change by strengthening ESL students' English and

literacy support, leading to ESL students' academic success, high school graduation and

opportunities to attend college or join the workforce.