Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Education, Ed.D.



First Advisor

Julie Kalnin

LC Subjects

Educational psychology


This action research study analyzed the creation and implementation of a professional development about trauma, informed by Arwood’s Neuro-semantic Language Learning Theory and Noddings’ ethic of care. The purpose of this study was two-fold. The first was to create a professional learning experience for teachers on trauma to include perspectives from neuroscience, psychology, and language research. The second purpose was to determine if participation in that professional learning experience shifted educators’ beliefs about trauma and learning.

I completed two cycles of action research to address each purpose. In the first cycle, I collected qualitative data from five expert panelists’ evaluations on content and process of the professional development presentation. Findings from this cycle indicated that expert panelists from the fields of neuroeducation, trauma, and professional development saw this experience as effective. Using content analysis, I determined changes the expert panelists recommended making to refine the presentation.

In the second action research cycle, I refined the professional development and implemented it with 13 participants (6 preservice and 7 inservice educators) over three one-time sessions. Data came from participants’ responses on a needs assessment, case studies, a belief survey, transcribed audio recordings, silent conversations, reflective journals, an evaluation of the experience, and a follow-up survey. Data were analyzed using values, attribute, and magnitude coding to determine categories associated with research questions. Though participants’ beliefs did not change, educators’ attitudes about students with trauma extended to include content information from a neuroeducation lens. Second, at the beginning of the study, most participants had incomplete understandings of the learning process that expanded over the course of the study through the introduction of neuroscience, psychology, and language concepts. Lastly, the participants found the professional development experience met their goals. This study begins to bridge a gap in the burgeoning neuroeducation literature. It also contributes to a new line of work examining professional development as a way to teach educators how to care for students with trauma in the classroom.


Copyright for this work is retained by the author.

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