Date of Award





Doctor of Education

Degree Type



Counseling, Foundations & Leadership

First Advisor

Patricia Patrick

Second Advisor

Mark McCarthy

Third Advisor

Tom Hackett


Third grade students who cannot read at grade level are more likely to experience difficulties throughout their education. This intrinsic case study examined the epistemological beliefs and pedagogical practices of six third grade English Language Arts (ELA) educators on developing students' comprehensive literacy skills (CLS) in two Title I schools. Bronfenbrenner's bioecological and ecological theories of human development postulated the theoretical framework. Educators' epistemologies were examined through their decision-making processes during ELA instruction. Pedagogies were evaluated through educators' use of culturally relevant instructional practices. Data were collected in three phases through semi-structured interviews, photographs with descriptive narratives, and an open-ended questionnaire. In Phase I, inductive coding was used to identify themes and subthemes. NVivo was used to upload data and organize coding. During Phase II, axial coding was used to link the codes from semi-structured interviews to descriptive narratives. Inductive coding was used in Phase III to analyze the open-ended questionnaires. Hierarchy figures and tables were used to illustrate the findings. The study results revealed literacy instruction and student performance were consistent across all three phases of data collection. Educators recognized the experiences provided during literacy instruction were related to students' CLS development. Evaluating students' performances provided educators with opportunities to monitor students' progress and evaluate their needs for individualized instructional support. Educators' beliefs matched their instructional practices. The findings from this research study may be beneficial to district leaders and other educational stakeholders.