School of Education


Doctor of Education in Curriculum & Instruction (EdD)


Grania Holman


English language learner, Teacher efficacy, Differentiation, Instruction, ELL, ESL, LEP, transcendental phenomenology, high school ELL, Secondary, Best practices


Education | Educational Methods


The purpose of this transcendental phenomenological study was to describe the experiences of core academic subject high school teachers with differentiating instruction and assessment for English language learners (ELLs) in central Virginia. Two theories provided the theoretical framework for this study including the socio-cultural theory by Lev Vygotsky (1978) and the social cognitive theory by Albert Bandura (1989). These two theories explain learning as an interaction of social and cultural experiences between teacher and student and address the role of efficacy in teacher expertise. The central research question that guided this study was “How do select high school academic content teachers describe their experiences differentiating instruction and assessment for English language learners in central Virginia?” Data were collected from administration of the Teaching English Language Learners Scale (TELLS) (see Appendix B), face-to-face interviews, and archival data in the form of document analysis. Data were analyzed by the researcher using ATLAS.ti qualitative data analysis software. Four themes developed from the data, and include positive attitudes toward differentiation for ELLs, negative attitudes, and two themes related to the dependence of efficacy on supports available and strategies known. The themes that developed revealed that the participants experienced conflicting attitudes toward differentiating for ELLs and felt ill prepared. The results of this study may inform the body of knowledge regarding the education of ELLs to address closing the achievement gap for this population in reading and math, to improve teacher pre and in service programs, and to improve ELL programs.