School of Education


Doctor of Education (EdD)


Gail Collins


intellectual disability, multiple intelligence, Phenomenological, phonemic awareness, rap


Curriculum and Instruction | Curriculum and Social Inquiry | Education | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Educational Methods | Educational Psychology | Other Education | Social and Philosophical Foundations of Education


The purpose of this qualitative transcendental phenomenological study was to understand special educators’ experiences and perceptions of using rap music to teach phonemic awareness skills to students with mild intellectual disabilities, in three Smith County (pseudonym) public school self-contained special education classrooms. A purposive sample utilized six participants in data collection comprised of semi-structured interviews, observations, documents, and one focus group. Data was analyzed using phenomenological reduction. Using Vygotsky’s (1978) sociocultural theory, Gardner’s (1983) multiple intelligences theory, and Kolb’s (1984) experiential learning theory, the essence of the shared experiences and perceptions were reported. An analysis of the data from semi-structured interviews, observations, and a focus group discussion with co-researchers revealed three themes. First, although the co-researchers identified negative student reactions, accessibility, and timing as obstacles, they felt that these were minor problems and did not negatively impact the use of educational rap music in the special education classrooms. Secondly, the music had a positive influence on student learning in different ways by sustaining student attention and helping students to retain the information they heard in the songs. Thirdly, the special educators perceived that educational rap music supported the acquisition of phonemic awareness skills for students with mild intellectual disabilities.