Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Education, Ed.D.



LC Subjects

Educational Improvement; Educational Practices; Educational Theories; Learning Theories; Neuroeducation


The overall purpose of this study was to propose an alignment between the research reported in the literature on language acquisition and language function and how that research is represented in current literacy practices. This study considered neuroscience, which can provide critical insights into how children learn, alongside theories of cognitive psychology, which help educators understand how children learn to think. Overlapping neuroscience and cognitive psychology, language both represents thinking and mediates thinking; a critical component for literacy acquisition. The study both develops and recommends a paradigm shift in classroom learning practices that are aligned to Arwood’s Neuroeducation theoretical framework.

The literature was triangulated through the overlap of language theory, cognitive psychology, and neuroscience to explore and develop neuroeducation definition for language, language acquisition, learning and their impact upon the acquisition of literacy processes. Four questions were addressed. First, common instructional practices were identified and analyzed, finding behaviorism and cognitive psychology as the dominant theories underlying prevalent literacy instructional practices. Next, an examination of the literature provided evidence to identify tenets aligning with neuroeducation. Third, transcribed interactions between students and teacher in a second grade classroom were analyzed and coded using the three lenses of neuroeducation. The coding cycles determined that conceptual elements identified within the review of literature could also be found in classroom practice. Finally, nine years of reading data (Developmental Reading Assessment) from a teacher in a first grade environment based upon language acquisition and neuroscience from a low income, high English Language Learner population was analyzed; after year three, 90% or more students met or exceeded district proficiency levels, demonstrating the efficacy of the neuroeducation model.

The study adds to the literature by delineating language function versus language structure in classroom practice. This research adds to the emerging field of neuroeducation by introducing the impact of the acquisition and function of language on the development of the function and structures of the brain. This study also provides data demonstrating the efficacy of a neuroeducation based learning environment. This research recommends neuroscience and language theory become part of future teacher education programs for future systemic change.


Copyright for this work is retained by the author.

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