Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Education Systems Improvement Science

Committee Chair/Advisor

Dr. Noelle Paufler

Committee Member

Dr. Hans Klar

Committee Member

Dr. Daniella Hall

Committee Member

Dr. Barbara Nesbitt


The U.S. population is rapidly becoming more culturally and linguistically diverse, and the education system is ill-equipped to meet the needs of these diverse learners thus creating large achievement gaps. In South Carolina, two factors contributing to an inadequate education system are the lack of teacher preparation programs that address cultural diversity and a predominantly White teacher workforce for an ever-growing diverse student body. The combination of these two factors is particularly detrimental to multilingual learners in the most critical time of a child’s development. This qualitative study was part of a collaboration and combined improvement science with design thinking to investigate ways to provide educators with training, information, and a means to build relationships with multilingual learners as a step toward improving academic achievement. The researchers and teacher participants collaborated to refine a tool based on the funds of knowledge that was utilized to gather and understand the cultural identity of their multilingual students in class, and ultimately, integrate this information into daily lesson plans. The study took place in June and July of 2022 during a four-week summer academic program at a South Carolina elementary school. The data for this study was collected via interviews with teachers and multilingual learners, analysis of lesson plans, observations, and feedback through professional development. The findings in this study provided insight on multilingual learners’ perceptions of their teacher’s ability to support them in them and possibilities for improving multilingual learner education.



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