Date of Award


Degree Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (Ed.D.)




A dissertation in the Isabelle Farrington College of Education and Human Development in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Education.

Committee Chair

David G. Title, Ed.D.

2nd Reader

Suzanne Marmo, Ph.D.

3rd Reader

Nancy C. Dowling, Principal (Retired) Bunnell High School


This Dissertation in Practice investigated to what extent professional learning impacted teacher perceptions, instruction, and self-efficacy of Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy (CSP) at a Catholic high school. The dissertation followed an Improvement Science framework to address a specific problem of practice: a lack of universal student connectedness at the high school level. As students begin ninth grade, the connectedness to school many experienced on the elementary level often wanes, with academic, social, and emotional impacts. To build connectedness, the researcher selected a specific change idea focused upon CSP. The intervention consisted of two professional development (PD) sessions and several opportunities for meetings with and individual coaching by a consultant. This explanatory sequential mixed methods study gathered quantitative data assessing teacher self-efficacy pre- and post-intervention. It also tracked teacher use of CSP over a four-week period. The researcher gathered qualitative data from participants during semi-structured interviews following the completion of the intervention. Data showed statistically significant growth in teacher self-efficacy scores and teacher use of nearly 2,300 culturally sustaining practices. Results also indicated largely favorable teacher feedback to CSP and the study’s intervention. Key findings of this study indicated a successful multi-faceted intervention model. The approach allowed teachers’ confidence in the use of CSP to increase and their self-efficacy to grow. Teachers also reported that culturally sustaining practices had a positive impact upon classroom culture and student learning. Teachers described improved classroom climate, growth in student engagement, and opportunities to learn more about students while strengthening student/teacher relationships. Teachers requested additional PD opportunities to implement specific CSP strategies and to ensure CSP use is authentic and addresses best practices. This study can serve as a model for other schools – both public and private – seeking to improve teacher use of culturally sustaining practices to build student connectedness.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.