Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Curriculum and Instruction

Number of Pages



Through a multiple case study design the influence of teachers' beliefs on literacy instruction for at-risk first graders was examined and described. A volunteer sample included five female teachers who taught in different high risk schools within the same school district. Five research questions guided the study: (1) What are teachers' beliefs about instructing young at-risk children to read and write? (2) What do teachers say they do as they instruct young at-risk children to read and write? (3) What do teachers actually do as they instruct young at-risk children to read and write? (4) What influences teachers' instructional decisions as they teach young at-risk children to read and write? (5) Are there congruencies between teachers' stated beliefs and their practice?;Data were collected from interviews, observations, questionnaires and a reflective activity over an academic year. Through the constant comparative method twelve general findings emerged: (1) Teachers must possess an understanding of the individual needs of at-risk children and address those needs; (2) Teachers must recognize and build on children's individual strengths; (3) Teachers should nurture children's enthusiasm for learning to read and write; (4) The learning process should begin at the appropriate developmental level; (5) At-risk children should be continuously stimulated in order to build confidence necessary for learning. A structured environment is important to accomplishing this goal; (6) At-risk children break the bonds of at-riskness by becoming literate; (7) Literacy instructional theory does not influence teachers' practice as much as their beliefs; (8) There is no single method of literacy instruction for at-risk children, a combination of pedagogical approaches best serves their literacy needs; (9) Teacher modeling is a positive motivational factor for at-risk children learning to read and write; (10) All at-risk children can learn; Other findings indicated: (1) Teachers' literacy instructional decisions are influenced by multiple factors; (2) There are congruencies between teachers' stated beliefs and practice; The five case studies validate the work of previous researchers who suggested that teachers' beliefs are an integral part of classroom practice. The teachers provided documented instances of the congruency between beliefs and classroom practice.


At Risk; Beliefs; Case; First; Graders; Influence; Instruction; Literacy; Multiple; Risk; Study; Teachers; Teachers; At Risk

Controlled Subject

Curriculum planning; Education, Elementary; Individualized reading instruction

File Format


File Size

9000.96 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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