Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Education Systems Improvement Science

Committee Chair/Advisor

Dr. Reginald Wilkerson

Committee Member

Dr. Hans Klar

Committee Member

Dr. Rhonda Miller

Committee Member

Dr. Antonis Katsiyannis


The demographics of the typical American classroom continue to present as a more diverse student population with the increase of English Language Learners (ELL) entering public schools. General education teachers on a secondary level are challenged with incorporating academic language instruction into content instruction for ELLs. Many of these teachers seek appropriate instructional strategies to teach ELLs academic language skills related to literacy to comprehend the specific content taught at the secondary level. A deeper understanding of language and skill acquisition within a secondary classroom can help guide future efforts in implementing effective literacy strategies to address ELLs’ academic language needs. This qualitative case study aimed to explore how the implementation of vocabulary strategies in biology general education classrooms improves English Language Learners’ content acquisition. The conceptual framework for this study included Cummins' and Krashen’s theories of second language acquisition. The participants included three general education biology teachers and seven ELLs at a high school in the southeastern area of the United States. Teacher interviews, student focus groups, and classroom observations were utilized to answer the research question. Data were analyzed via open coding to generate the themes. The study findings revealed that implementing visual vocabulary strategies in secondary general education biology classrooms was necessary for the academic language acquisition of ELLs for core content. This study’s findings may positively affect change by informing stakeholders’ efforts in implementing vocabulary strategies to provide academic language instruction to ELLs for success in acquiring core content material in secondary classrooms.



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