Date of Award

Spring 5-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ded)


Professional Studies in Education

First Advisor

Valeri R. Helterbran, Ed.D.

Second Advisor

Mark G. Twiest, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Shirley A. Johnson, Ed.D.


This study explored how rural, secondary public school teachers, viewed by their administrators as caring and responsive to students’ cultures, perceived they used, valued, and developed efficacy in using contextual and cultural responsiveness to improve students’ learning experiences. The rural minority-majority Florida site was of interest because the intersection of a majority of students from diverse linguistic, economic, racial, and ethnic backgrounds with students minoritized by ruralness in a Title I district was a little researched and lesser understood area of culturally responsive teaching (CRT). Gay (2010)’s eighteen pillars of progress for CRT framed the study, and Edmonson and Butler (2010)’s emergent philosophy of radical democracy for rural educators was used to interpret interaction of the rural context with CRT. A basic, qualitative, interpretive methodology involved semi-structured interviews of twelve middle and high school teachers from four academic and several elective content areas, triangulated with a demographic survey, document review, and member-checking.

The complete interview protocol aligned with CRT principles, and redacted transcripts and field notes were manually coded and organized into six thematic categories: Definition and value of CRT; funds of knowledge and informed instruction; caring and high expectations; teaching and learning; critical awareness and advocacy; and teachers’ growth. Teachers provided more elaborative data when addressing topics of knowledge about students’ cultures, their community, and creating a classroom climate of caring and respect than about scaffolding with cultural or rural knowledge, cultural communication styles, learning preferences, critical advocacy, and CRT growth. Data were more detailed, and more closely aligned with pillars of CRT when principles applicable to both CRT and mainstream ideas of effective teaching were discussed; however, when principles more specifically concerned students of color or the use of the local ruralness as a scaffold for new learning, the richness of data and alignment with CRT were average or weak.

All data including discrepant data were reported, and data may have been gathered close to the point of redundancy. Professional development articulating and adding aspects of local culture to CRT in a community of practice model over an extended period of time was recommended.