School of Education


Doctor of Philosophy in Education (PhD)


Kristy Motte


Cultural Awareness, character development, moral education




The purpose of this instrumental case study was to understand the critical aspects of cultural awareness education at the elementary level. This study intended to assess a variety of educators’ perceptions of elementary students’ cultural awareness and character development by asking what role culture awareness plays in the development of the whole child. This instrumental case study sought to identify teachers’ perceptions of the current educational provisions of teaching and learning through cultural proficiency in elementary education. The central research question was: How do elementary teachers’ perceptions of cultural awareness help integrate content throughout the educational curriculum? It was used to guide clarifying sub-questions and the interview process. The study utilized interviews of classroom teachers of varying grades and small focus groups of counselors, support staff, and a culturally diverse elementary school administration. Individual interviews of ten elementary classroom teachers and a focus group of support staff and administrators provided in-depth insights into the content of each research question. To distinguish the current perceptions of the education received through cultural awareness related to character development and whole child education, the analysis occurred through pattern matching, time-series analysis, and explanation building. This case study's findings provided many insights into teacher perceptions of cultural awareness at the elementary level. Themes emerged that led to future research, including the influence of teacher experience, voice and choice in cultural awareness curriculum implementation, components of whole child education, and culturally illiterate barriers presented in education.

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