The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

Educational Administration and Leadership, K-12: Ed.D.


Educational Administration and Higher Education


School of Education

First Advisor

Kay Worner

Second Advisor

John Eller

Third Advisor

James Johnson

Fourth Advisor

Roger Worner

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

Cultural Awareness


The United States has experienced an increase in the number of immigrants arriving from various countries around the world over the last several decades. In fall 2014, 30 percent of all public schools in the United States reported student populations of at least 75 percent minority compared with 24 percent in fall, 2004. The percentage of students enrolled in public schools increased from 2004 to 2014 across all racial/ethnic groups (U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2014-2015). The process of changing teaching and learning practices occurs through professional development. The Every Student Succeeds Act relies on the research of Desimone (2002), Garet et. al. (2001), Guskey (2003), Hirsh et. al. (2014), and Wei et. al. (2009) to develop a set of criteria describing effective professional development. The six ESSA criteria of Job-embedded, Data-driven, Classroom-focused, Sustained, Intensive, and Collaborative. Professional development also occurs in either a traditional format or a reform format (Garet et al., 2001). These data indicate that effective professional development in cultural awareness is needed for teachers to successfully teach all students in their classrooms.

The purpose of the study was to determine elementary teachers in Minnesota school districts regarding their perceptions of effective professional development experiences in cultural awareness, the effectiveness of professional development they received in cultural awareness, their desire for additional professional development in cultural awareness, and their levels of confidence in incorporating cultural awareness into their practice. The study employed a quantitative methodology; quantitative data were gathered from Minnesota elementary school teachers school districts located in urban and rural communities.

The study of Teachers’ Perceptions and Experiences in Cultural Awareness Professional Development contributes to the current body of research knowledge by providing new research supporting the need for more professional development opportunities in cultural awareness for Minnesota teachers and the types of professional development in cultural awareness that were effective within their teaching practice.

A majority of teacher participants noted that they had 0-3 courses on cultural awareness during their benefit from professional development in cultural awareness and initial teacher education, but they had some professional development opportunities within their school districts. Teachers also indicated they know they in fact, it has positively impacted their practice. Based on the findings of the study, Minnesota Elementary teachers reported that the most effective type of professional development in cultural awareness was collaborating with other educators and members of the community. They also indicated that professional development opportunities focused on their learning environments and embedded within their jobs was more effective than intensive and data driven opportunities.


I am so appreciative for the support, guidance, and wisdom of my dissertation committee: Dr. Roger Worner, Dr. Jim Johnson, Dr. John Eller, and my committee chair Dr. Kay Worner. I am indebted to Dr. Kay Worner’s persistence for me to finish the study and the compassion she showed me throughout this journey.

Thank you to my parents and family for instilling a passion for education within me and support throughout my Doctoral journey.

To the superintendents, principals and teachers who participated in my survey during a global pandemic, I am so appreciative of your time and collaboration.

To my amazing cohort members, Dr. Emily Rustman, Dr. Nicole Rittenour, and Dr. Missy Tellinghuisen, I did not know that when I started the doctoral program that I would gain three soul sisters and lifelong friends. Thank you for your encouragement, support, and countless amounts of laughter.



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