Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Philosophy (Ph.D)


Education Specialties

First Advisor

Joseph C Rumenapp

Second Advisor

Audrey Murphy

Third Advisor

Rosalba Del Vecchio


Results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP; National Center for Education Statistics, 2020) have shown that despite efforts to raise the literacy skill levels of students in elementary school, the average reading scores for fourth-grade students in 2019 were still cause for concern. The NAEP data showed the reading scores in four percentiles (i.e., 10th, 25th, 50th, and 75th) from 2019 dropped in comparison with the corresponding data garnered in 2017 (National Center for Education Statistics, 2020). In addition, the number of students whose first language is not English has soared by 105% in the last decade (i.e., 2010–2019) and yet they are placed in regular or general education classrooms with teachers who are underprepared or have no training related to the unforeseen obstacles these second language learners often encounter in school literacy programs (Constantino, 1994; Lucas et al., 2008). Thus, the classroom environment becomes an arena of active exchanges among students, teachers, and classroom resources that inherently are mitigated by the pedagogical beliefs of the educators driving the curriculum. The purpose of this study was to explore the beliefs held by third- and fourth-grade elementary teachers about their abilities to deliver literacy instruction to students and the impact of these beliefs on the type of literacy instruction they deliver in general education third- and fourth-grade classrooms. This study was framed using Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory, which indicates literacy skills develop when students can participate in social and cultural activities (Pu, 2010). Bandura’s concept of self-efficacy was used to understand how individuals perceive their ability to influence the things happening around them. Participants were third- and fourth-grade teachers across three school districts that shared similar demographics regarding student populations. Data collection occurred through surveys, interviews, and classroom observation field notes. Limitations related to the study sample size and the demographics of the school districts. Future research possibilities as well as recommendations for policymakers are discussed.