A large percentage of children enrolled in schools throughout the United States live in poverty. Therefore, educators across the country must develop education policies to ensure all children receive a high-quality education. To further support the need for education policy reform, the literature reviewed in this study indicated that students who live in poverty would have better outcomes when they are engaged in school behaviorally, affectively, and cognitively (Appleton, Christenson, & Furlong, 2008; Cai & Liem, 2017; Kelm & Connell, 2004). Moreover, professional development is necessary to provide teachers with pedagogical practices that will improve the educational practices of teachers, including cooperative learning, project-based learning, and preparing students to live in the 21st century. A few of the key findings from this study revealed that the participants in this study do not have the theoretical framework for student engagement. Additionally, the participants are receiving a limited amount of professional development to support their knowledge for pedagogical practices for engaging students. Lastly, the participants stated that they face obstacles in engaging students; the obstacles align directly with the characteristics of students who live in poverty. This qualitative study utilized the phenomenological approach; semi-structured interviews explored the experiences of teachers teaching in high-poverty schools. The results from the interviews are intended to inform educators of the benefits of engaging students who live in poverty and introduce a training model that can be utilized nationwide to provide teachers an opportunity to improve instructional practices and increase educational outcomes for all students, and more specifically, for students who live in poverty.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Low-income students -- United States; Motivation in education; Teachers -- Training of

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Farzin Madjidi