Date of Award

Fall 2018

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Educational Studies

First Advisor

Rhonda Jeffries


This action research study followed Mertler’s (2014) action research cycle of planning, acting, developing, and reflecting as the participant-researcher explored the impact of cultural and individualized differentiation to address the affective needs of learners within a response to intervention (RTI) framework in a third-grade classroom at Oak Park Elementary School (a pseudonym). A traditional RTI framework places the student at the center of all instruction while providing a scientific approach to meeting the needs of struggling learners (Williams, 2015a), but, as argued by Beth Harry (n.d.), simply providing evidence-based strategies to struggling students may not be enough; students also need to be engaged. Individualized differentiation approaches address not only the cognitive aspects of engagement, but also the affective level of engagement (Williams, 2015a). As stated by Hammond (2015), culturally responsive teaching serves as a means of increasing academic engagement by establishing teacher/student connections in a culturally diverse group of students. The focus of this study stems from observed “one-size-fits-all instruction” and the low performance of the identified participants on the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Reading Inventory, which is the universal screening assessment used by the school district in this study. This study shows that through the application of strategies for addressing the affective domain of learning as well as the cognitive domain of learning within an RTI framework, third-grade African American boys’ reading ability and engagement in reading have increased.