Theses and Dissertations


Daina Zhu

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Franz, Dana

Committee Member

Moser, Kelly M.

Committee Member

Alley, Kathleen M.

Committee Member

Walker, Ryan M.

Committee Member

Jianzhong, Xu

Date of Degree


Original embargo terms


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Curriculum and Instruction

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Education


Department of Curriculum, Instruction and Special Education


Extant research focusing on rural teacher education programs emphasizes the urgency of teacher preparation investigation and professional development which is needed to successfully work with ELs (e.g. Fry & Anderson, 2011; Hansen Thomas et al., 2014; Manner & Rodriguez, 2012; O’Neal et al., 2008). However, little research has included preservice teachers’ perspectives related to their own preparatory programs. This study fills the gap in previous research by investigating preservice teachers’ perceptions of how their teacher education programs are preparing them to teach ELs in poor rural areas. This study was conducted in Mississippi, a state in which over 50% of schools are located at poor rural areas. At the time of data collection, 3 preservice teacher participants of this study were studying secondary math education at a university in Mississippi and conducting their intern teaching at poor rural schools. Data related to EL teaching and learning in Mississippi were also collected from teacher educators of this university and other stakeholders. The data revealed that preservice teachers who possessed different levels of satisfaction with the preparation received to teach ELs interpreted their coursework and field experiences in diverse ways. The post-secondary teacher educators who participated in the study provided reasons why courses specifically related to EL teaching and learning were not included. Other stakeholders described the sources and development of the EL students in their school districts, indicating a low incidence of ELs in rural schools and providing reasons for why there existed a slim chance for preservice teachers to have EL students in their intern-teaching classrooms. This study extends the previous research by exploring preservice teachers’ perspectives on how their current teacher education programs prepared them for teaching ELs in poor rural areas. Data suggest that preservice teachers possessing greater solid subject knowledge felt more prepared to teach ELs. Other suggestions related to strengthening EL teaching preparation included adding explicit instruction related to teaching ELs within methods courses and offering a course related to SLA as an elective; providing preservice teachers with the opportunities to practice teaching EL students; and affording teacher educators regular professional development sessions related to EL teaching.



Preservice teachers||preparation||teach English learners||poor rural areas