Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Philosophy (Ph.D)


Education Specialties

First Advisor

Michael Sampson

Second Advisor

Richard Brown

Third Advisor

Evan Ortlieb


The purpose of this qualitative study is to explore the relationship between secondary English learner students’ perspectives of effective teacher practices and how these practices contribute to their self-efficacy in the content area of social studies. As reported by the National Association of Education Progress secondary English learners completed high school at a rate sixty-three percent when compared to the national rate of eighty-two percent in 2017. Comparatively, in New York the statewide graduation rate for these two groups was thirty-seven and seventy-eight percent. In New York State social studies is the only content area where high school students are required to complete two history Regents exams and five social studies courses. In consideration of the commencement criteria and the unique challenges of learning content with culturally embedded terminology in a new language, instruction designed and implemented for the secondary English learner in social studies must equip the learner with the supports necessary to withstand the exacting demands placed upon them to graduate. Participants in this study were drawn from two high schools in New York State. Six students and two teachers were interviewed. The two teachers’ classrooms were also observed. The data collected from student and teacher interviews and classroom observations pertained to the use of culturally responsive pedagogy, the cognitive academic language learning approach and specifically designed academic instruction in English. This study’s significance is grounded in the theory that student self-efficacy in social studies is tied to reading ability and the comprehension of subject matter placing proficiency in content-based literacy at the forefront of student motivation and achievement. This study is significant because it offers educators and researchers an account of secondary English learners’ experiences learning content through approaches and frameworks specifically designed to address their needs. This study will supply researchers and practitioners with valuable insight into which practices increase self-efficacy thus increasing student motivation to succeed in this content area. This information can be used by teachers to design instruction that will lead to higher achievement in school so students are willing to endure their academic programs and earn a high school diploma.