College of Education Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

Spring 6-2011

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Curriculum & Instruction

First Advisor

Dr. Katie Van Sluys

Second Advisor

Dr. Jason Goulah

Third Advisor

Dr. Sonia Soltero


This ethnographic dissertation study focuses on life in fourth grade classrooms, examining how sociocultural experiences and influences in the local learning environment impact native Spanish-speaking English language learners’ (ELL) identities, and subsequently how students perceive their schooling experience and language practices. Connections are made between their learning and experiences that occur in their classrooms and schools at large, specifically through language of instruction and schooling practices, and how ELLs identify themselves as individuals and members of society. This qualitative research looks at ELLs in transitional bilingual and dual language classroom contexts through the frameworks of sociocultural theory and language as a resource. Qualitative data (observations, interviews, focus groups, document analysis) was examined through discourse analysis. Findings suggest that naming a language instructional program is not enough, and educators must also consider instructional and curricular practices to best prepare ELLs in becoming productive members of society.