Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Education and Human Services


Teacher Education and Teacher Development

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Monica Taylor

Committee Member

Emily Klein

Committee Member

Jeremy Price


Conducted in a large size four-year state university, the purpose of this qualitative study was to learn how faculty of multiple disciplines examined and made meaning of their instructional practices and decisions when teaching ELL students, how they modified their instruction to meet the needs of ELLs, and what they saw as areas of struggle when working with this student population. Critical pedagogy (Freire, 1970) was used as a theoretical framework to further investigate the complex nature of how higher education faculty make meaning of their instructional experiences when teaching ELLs within the hierarchical structures inherent in higher education and society at large. Hence, the analyses and discussions were structured through the lens of a Freirean critical pedagogy which allowed me to reveal the complexity of higher education faculty’s teaching experiences when teaching ELLs and how their instructional decisions are rooted within these hierarchal institutional structures.

The findings revealed that all participant faculty were genuinely empathetic towards their ELL students’ level of English proficiency and how it affected their learning outcomes, and they all expressed interest in attempting to modify their instruction to meet the needs of these students. However, they reported real concerns and frustrations due to their lack of knowledge, expertise, adequate preparation, and especially institutional support to address such needs. The prospect of having to attend to yet another task, in addition to already existing responsibilities, created tension and exacerbated already existing challenges, as faculty attempted to navigate their teaching load and academic obligations while attending to their ELL students’ linguistic needs as a catalyst for their learning outcomes and academic success.

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