Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Curriculum and Instruction

Major Professor

Pat Daniel Jones, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jennifer Wolgemuth, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Ann Cranston-Gingras, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Phyllis Jones, Ph.D.


English language arts, autism spectrum, teaching, culturally responsive practices, narrative inquiry, constructivism


Current accountability measures require English language arts (ELA) teachers to teach literacy skills to all students. However, the population of mainstreamed students is becomingly increasingly diverse and includes students on the autism spectrum for whom literacy skills may lie in opposition to population characteristics. Further, educators are encouraged to respond to students in culturally responsive ways, and current teacher evaluation systems often require teachers to demonstrate cultural competence. However, a dearth of research provides insight into the ways secondary ELA teachers perceive their students on the autism spectrum, or how they interact with those students or support them in culturally responsive ways. This narrative multiple case study was undertaken to examine how five new ELA teachers perceived their students on the autism spectrum and if they enacted culturally responsive practices with them. Further, because the teachers were new to the profession with three years or fewer teaching experience, the study examined in what ways they constructed knowledge about how to teach the population. Themes emerged suggesting, among other things, that 1) ELA teachers perceive both strengths and challenges for their students on the autism spectrum within their content area, 2) ELA teachers rely primarily on other people to help them learn how to teach students on the autism spectrum because other resources are lacking, and 3) ELA teachers tend to demonstrate more culturally responsive practices over time with their students on the autism spectrum depending on the nature of their experiences. I propose a model to capture movement in culturally responsive practices for the autism spectrum utilizing Gay’s (2010) characteristics of culturally responsive pedagogy.