School of Education


Doctor of Education in Curriculum & Instruction (EdD)


Rebecca Lunde


cultural learning patterns, learning styles, culturally responsive learning, multi-tiered system of support, MTSS, NWEA, VARK, achievement gap, cultural capital, racial bias, ethnic matching, school climate, ethnic minorities, at-risk students, positive student-teacher relationships




The American education system has historically promoted free and equal education for all, but history has shown that ethnic minority students’ academic achievement has been lower than ethnic majority students’ academic achievement. The resulting gap in achievement has been addressed throughout the research, but definitive solutions remain elusive. The study addressed the lack of research surrounding cultural learning patterns of at-risk students. The purpose of this quantitative, casual comparative study is to determine the difference among annual state mandated test scores of at-risk students who have visual, auditory, read/write or kinesthetic (VARK) learning styles. The participants for the study were drawn from a convenience sample of students located in a northeastern state during the spring semester of the 2020-2021 school year. The assessment was administered to students who were in grades six, seven and eight during the 2020-2021 school year to determine preferred learning styles. The researcher also used 2020-2021 Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) results to determine the differences among annual, state-mandated test scores of at-risk students who have VARK learning styles. The data were analyzed from each of the visual, auditory, read/write, and kinesthetic learning styles profiles. A one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to analyze the samples. The research shows that students benefit from increased teacher/student connections, faith-baesd partnerships, and increased awareness of cultural influences on learning. The data supports implementing tiered supports to address absenteeism and student disengagement.

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