School of Education


Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)


Ellen Ziegler


teach the whole child, secondary education, student-centered instruction, culturally relevant instruction




The purpose of this collective case study was to describe the experiences that secondary educators face when using whole child practices to teach minority students in Washington, DC, urban schools. The theory that guided this study was Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory which highlights the culture of students as an essential way to interpret knowledge. Also, this theory identifies the zone of proximal development, which is the ideal starting point for students to retain knowledge. Whole child education, specifically student-centered instruction, places the student at the center and allows instruction to be influenced by students’ backgrounds and interests. This study described how the teacher views student-centered instruction and its role in implementation. The central research question of this study was, “How do secondary education teachers perceive their role in student-centered learning?” This collective case study was set in an urban community in the Northeast United States and examined 15 secondary education teachers’ experiences with student-centered learning using data collection methods that included teacher interviews, questionnaires, and letter writing. Qualitative data analysis methods were used to analyze, synthesize, and contextualize the data to create new understandings of how secondary education teachers respond to student-centered instruction and their perceptions of the benefits and barriers to implementation. Three major themes emerged from the findings which include (a) the school environment, (b) professional controls, and (c) meaningful interactions. An outlier finding included the student’s home life.

Included in

Education Commons