Ha TranFollow

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




ABSTRACTAs racial and political tensions grow within the United States, it is not uncommon for negative teacher perceptions of English Language Learners (ELLs) to be documented in educational research. This observed phenomenon is especially worrisome for three reasons: (1) teachers’ perceptions of their students are known to affect their pedagogy, (2) teacher perception and pedagogy influences student outcomes, and (3) the ELL population continues to be the quickest growing subset within the American public-school student body. While extensive, previous research has not attempted to compare teacher perceptions of ELLs across varying racial identity groups of ELLs. Thus, this pilot study seeks to examine three things: (1) the variability in teacher perceptions of ELLs, (2) the relationship between teachers’ professional and personal beliefs about diversity and their perceptions of ELLs, and finally (3) the differences in beliefs towards diversity and perceptions of ELLs between (a) teachers who mainly serve a Latino/Hispanic and Spanish-speaking student population and (b) teachers who mainly serve an Asian/Asian-American and Asian-language speaking student population. This study utilized a qualitative research approach through in depth interviews with teachers (n=4) to answer the research question. The findings in this pilot study indicated that: (1) teachers had neutral to positive perceptions of their current ELLs regardless of racial identity, (2) teachers’ perceptions of ELLs varied based upon ELLs in theory vs. ELLs in practice, and (3) teachers deferred to their ELL aide as a result of inadequate ELL training. While some limitations exist, this pilot study serves as a basis for further future research.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.