Access Type

Dissertation/Thesis

Date of Award

January 2019

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Department

Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Thomas G. Edwards

Abstract

The purpose of this qualitative research study is to explore how teachers can develop a culturally relevant curriculum to break the barriers of cultural and cognitive dissonance to improve student learning experiences. Two state certified Caucasian teachers and eight middle school aged African American students took part in this qualitative study in face-to-face interviews with 20 interview questions to explore the lives, culture, and situations of their students and communities. Educational institutions have their own world views or ideologies perpetuated through the students and their teachers. Exploring and analyzing various education systems will also help to understand cultural differences and identify their connection to education. Culturally responsive teaching and learning are important because they empower students socially, emotionally, and intellectually by using cultural references to convey information, attitudes, and skills (Ladson-Billings, 1994). This qualitative research study will use classroom ethnography to discuss cultural and cognitive dissonance and how to cultivate a cultural sensitivity classroom setting. Classroom ethnography discusses everything happening to students, teachers, and the administration of the school (Gardner & Martin-Jones, 2012). Results of this study will indicate the students’ abilities to understand cultural differences and identify the connection to learning. This study will attempt to identify a correlation between developing and implementing a culturally relevant curriculum and the impact on breaking barriers of cultural and cognitive dissonance to improve student performance. This research study recommends that breaking such barriers will help develop students using cultural references to convey information, attitudes, and skills.

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