Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Education, Ed.D.



First Advisor

Dr. Ellyn Arwood

LC Subjects

Language transfer (Language learning); English language--Acquisition; English language--Study and teaching--United States


With the increased demands of the new Common Core State Standards (CCSS), the New Generation Science Standards (NGSS), and the revised English Language Proficiency Standards (ELPs); the traditional approach to teaching English Learners (ELs) needs to shift to align with the expectations of these new standards. Therefore, the researcher engaged in a study to determine how professional development (PD) that supports the new standards impacted beliefs of educators in the district and ultimately, classroom practice. The purpose of this qualitative study was twofold: (1) To determine if the Arwood Neuroeducation Model (ANM) supports the pedagogical shifts recommended by Heritage, Walqui, and Linquanti (2015); and (2) If those district educators with and without a professional background in both the pedagogical shifts and in educating ELs based on the ANM show beliefs about language development and/or language acquisition that are aligned with their classroom practices.

The first part of the study involved reviewing the pedagogical shifts and then aligning each shift to components of ANM to determine which elements of the shifts aligned to the model and which ones were missing. The key finding from this part of the study was that ANM has a place in the Second Language Acquisition (SLA) literature and that the model supports and enhances the pedagogical shifts.

The second part of the study was to investigate educators’ beliefs about language acquisition and development aligned to their classroom practice, which was conducted using a combination of an open and closed-ended survey as well as a classroom visit by an educator with this neuroeducation background with no relationship to the district in which the data was collected. The survey was sent to 500 general educators in a large district such as administrators, school psychologists, speech language pathologists, self-contained teachers, English Language Development (ELD) teachers, and content teachers of which 350 responded. The same survey was sent to eight select ELD teachers. Four of the ELD teachers received professional development or PD on the pedagogical shifts for SLA and on the differences between language development and language acquisition and four of the teachers did not receive any training. The eight ELD teachers were also observed once using an observation tool aligned to ANM. The findings for the second part of the study suggest an alignment between beliefs and practice for the group that received PD but not for the group that did not receive the same PD. The data also suggest that when PD was provided on language acquisition, teachers’ beliefs and classroom practice aligned to the literature on language acquisition. When PD was not provided, the beliefs aligned to the literature on language acquisition but classroom practice aligned to the literature on language development. Also, PD around neuroeducation supported the shift in alignment of practice.


Copyright for this work is retained by the author.