Summer 2018



Degree Name


Primary Advisor/Dissertation Chair

Michelle Benegas

Secondary Advisor/Reader One

Michal Moskow

Peer-Reviewer/Reader Two

Katherine Nelson


The research question addressed in this paper is: How are feelings of motivation observed in and

reported by English learners when they are educated in culturally relevant ways? Using Ladson- Billings’ definition of Culturally Relevant Pedagogy, Ryan and Deci’s self-determination theory

of motivation, and Gonzalez’ definition of culture as lived experience, the author conducts classroom research with fourth grade English learners in an urban setting in the American Midwest. Student surveys, teacher observations, and field notes are used for the duration of two co-taught lessons that can be classified as being culturally relevant. One lesson introduces the metaphor to students of culture as an iceberg, and the other is a student-led book club lesson. Results show that English learners report and can be observed portraying feelings of motivation based on four specific motivators related to culturally relevant pedagogy: cooperation, choice, academics, and self-reflection.

Research Methodology

Action Research


Achievement, ESL/ ELLs, Motivation, Teachers/ Teaching

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