School of Education


Doctor of Education in Curriculum & Instruction (EdD)


Michelle Goodwin


Achievement Gap, Bubble Students, Self-efficacy, Sub Groups, Educational Triage


Education | Elementary Education


The purpose of this phenomenological study was to describe 10 rural third- through fifth-grade general education teachers’ experiences with teaching “bubble students” in south-central Virginia. Bubble students were defined as those students who were projected to come close to achieving test cut scores. The theories guiding this study were Bandura’s theory of self-efficacy and the self-determination theory as they provided an understanding of how attitudes, perceptions, and beliefs could impact the self-efficacy and experiences of teachers. The following research questions framed the study: How do rural third- through fifth-grade general education teachers in Virginia describe their experiences with teaching bubble students? How do participants describe their feelings of efficacy and perceive professional aptitude after teaching bubble students? How does the presence of bubble students in a classroom impact the teaching practices of participants? What are the classroom challenges described by participants after teaching bubble students? Data collection included blog responses, individual interviews, and reflective journaling. Data analysis included bracketing, reading, memoing, coding, imaginative variation, and the keeping of a researcher’s journal. Findings of this study showed four themes: relationships, beliefs, challenges, and expansion of personal knowledge. The results of the study provided data to help determine whether current educational practices in Virginia are positively impacting the achievement gap. Further research is recommended with a larger population, review of the relationships of the general education participants with their collaborating colleagues, and of teacher preparation for teaching bubble students.