Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Kimberly F. Alkins


Poverty has an on-going and broadening negative effect on students’ academic performance. At the research school, 78% of the students in poverty performed below proficiency on the national literacy test in 2012. In 2013, the number was 68%, and in 2014, 80% performed below proficiency. The purpose of this research study was to explore the instructional strategies that teachers are using with these students in poverty. Piaget’s cognitive development and Vygotsky’s social development theories established the conceptual framework for this study. The research questions that this study sought to answer at the local school setting were what instructional strategies teachers are using, which strategies teachers believe are most effective, how prepared do teachers believe they are to teach these students, and what assistance would teachers like to meet the academic needs of their students. In this instrumental case study, a convenience sample of 4 teachers was interviewed, and 1 lesson plan per teacher was reviewed. Interview data were analyzed inductively using the thematic approach and coding. A checklist was used to analyze lesson plans for instructional strategies used. From the findings, 5 major themes were developed: use of students’ prior knowledge/experience, cooperative learning and differentiated instruction are effective in teaching students in poverty, limited resources affect student learning, teachers need to be equipped with necessary sources to teach, and more and frequent professional development in literacy skills is needed. A 3-day professional development workshop was developed. The study findings can contribute to social change by increasing teachers’ use of effective instructional strategies to improve learning and literacy achievement of students in poverty.

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