Publication Date


DOI (Digital Object Identifier)



Leadership and Higher Education


Doctor of Education (Ed.D)

Dissertation Chair

Jose Lalas, Ph.D.

Committee Members

Greg Hamilton, Ed.D.

Christopher H. Hunt, Ed.D.


education; alternative education; at-risk; cultural capital; responsive teaching; social class; student engagement


Education | Educational Leadership


School systems have focused on validating the culture of dominant groups that have led to the marginalization of underrepresented groups (Bourdieu, 1986; Bourdieu & Passeron 1977; Dumais 2002). This study examined the influence of cultural capital on student engagement for at-risk students. Participants consisted of students, parents, and school officials. This study utilized a narrative inquiry approach to describe the experiences of the participants. This approach focused on the individuals’ lived experiences that involved the past, present, or future (Connelly and Clandinin, 2006; Creswell, 2013). Some emergent themes in this study were the importance of building trust among students and teachers, the importance of responsive teaching, creating a culture of care, academic challenges, and opportunity deficits. Participants expressed high self-interest through the integration of culturally-responsive teaching. Understanding students’ learning and interest in order to engage and motivate students during instruction is crucial (Solorzano & Delgado Bernal, 2001). This prevents students’ learning and interest from academically, cognitively, social engagement, and affective disengagement (Finn & Zimmer, 2012). This study provided the researcher with a better understanding of the challenges and struggles alternative education students have experienced in their academic career. The study concluded that integrating culturally-responsive teaching is integral in the instruction of at-risk students. Integrating culturally-responsive teaching could prevent at-risk students from dropping out of high school.


© 2015 Ingrid Lin

All Rights Reserved

ISBN: 9781339061726