Author ORCID Identifier

Date of Award

Spring 5-14-2021

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Early Childhood Education

First Advisor

Dr. Diane Truscott

Second Advisor

Dr. Laura May

Third Advisor

Dr. Teresa Fisher-Ari


The adoption of a literacy curriculum with an “evidence-based” label in high-needs elementary schools may influence the inclusion of elementary teachers in curricular choices and instructional decision-making. The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine the presence and relationships between Joseph Schwab’s Four Commonplaces (1973), which argues for an intersect among the subject matter, teacher, learner, and context, and opportunities to incorporate instructional practices using Culturally Responsive Literacy Instruction. The study was guided by the two research questions:

  1. What is the function of the literacy elements, teacher, learner and learning context in a literacy curriculum?
  2. What relationships exist between the literacy elements, teacher, learner, and learning context in the literacy curriculum?

A case study design was employed to focus on the presence of literacy elements, the teacher, the learner, and the learning context in one literacy curriculum that was recommended for adoption by the state department of education. Documents representing the corpus for analysis, including descriptions and sample units from the publisher’s website, teacher interviews by the publisher and the state ELA instructional framework, totaled 20 documents categorized as main versus additional sources. Document analysis using selective coding methods for federal, state, and curriculum documents and videos found an emphasis of six areas of literacy, whole group instruction and small group instruction as the context for learning, teachers as the implementers of explicit and systematic lessons, and the importance of learners to access and apply literacy skills. Findings show the relationship between commonplaces reveal the influence of the subject matter and the learning context on teacher-learner interactions. The findings reveal that the curriculum did not present opportunities for CRLI implementation. The study has implications for consideration on critically thinking about the “evidence-based” label, consideration for curriculum adoption, teacher instructional decision-making, and argues for the implementation of teacher practices in Culturally Responsive Literacy Instruction in high-needs schools.


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