Culturally Responsive Teaching in Rwanda: An American Teacher's Challenges and Successes in Translating Theory to Practice

Open Access
Ashworth, Jessica Shaun
Area of Honors:
Elementary and Kindergarten Education (Berks/Lehigh)
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Kira Baker Doyle, Thesis Supervisor
  • Sandy Feinstein, Honors Advisor
  • Culturally responsive
  • English language learners
  • learning community.
This paper focuses on the discovery of a culturally responsive teaching model that builds a learning community for students in their English language acquisition. The goal of this research was to explore how a teacher could connect students’ cultural background and funds of knowledge with outside knowledge from the teacher in a manner that empowers the students’ community. This was a participatory action research project in Rwanda, Africa, which means I took part in community service through research. The methods involved collecting qualitative data consisting of videotaping activities, field observations of teachers and students, interviews of teachers and students, personal written reflections and assessments of students’ work. To analyze my data, Geneva Gay’s, “Preparing for Culturally Responsive Pedagogy” was used as a framework for this study. An instructional practice was developed for teachers in Rwanda and America to use to help their students learn the English language in a positive learning environment and further to learn what works and what does not work in developing an effective learning community.