Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2019

Degree Type


Degree Name



Educational Leadership and Policy

First Advisor

Carolyn Shields


Advisor: Dr. Carolyn Shields

Major: Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

Degree: Doctor of Philosophy

The teachers in the US classrooms are facing an unprecedented challenge of serving significantly large population of students who come from culturally and linguistically different backgrounds. These challenges are further exasperated because many teachers are not prepared to work with English Language Learners (ELLs) who have specific needs and require pedagogy that goes beyond content teaching. Therefore, many ELL students are not receiving the appropriate principles, practices and strategies necessary for them to succeed in the American classrooms. As the population of ELL students is steadily increasing, there is an immediate need for the mainstream teachers to be prepared to effectively deal with these challenges. Previous research studies have pointed out that intercultural sensitivity and cultural competence may contribute to positive educational experiences for students who are from diverse background, (Hammer, Bennett, & Wiseman).

The purpose of this qualitative research was to explore the relationships between cultural competency and teacher self-efficacy and investigate in which ways, if any, cultural competency influences teachers’ efficacy in working with ELL students. This research was conducted in an urban high school with a large, primarily Yemeni immigrant population. Using surveys and interviews, ten participants (4 females and 6 males) comprised of teachers and school leaders provided the qualitative data for this research. The findings of this research study were that teachers and leaders of culturally and linguistically different students need cultural competence in order to succeed in their given positions. This investigation also highlighted the importance of professional development and hands-on experiences along with the significance of teacher attitudes in cultivating cultural and linguistic competence. The findings from this research also indicate that teachers whose cultural background was similar to that of the students perceived themselves to have more efficacy in dealing with students’ academic and social needs.