The purpose of this qualitative research study was to explore how instructors became aware of culturally relevant teaching (CRT) and developmentally appropriate practices (DAP) that support African American students’ academic achievement. The Grounded Theory approach was used to uncover themes from the individual interviews of African American preschool directors, teachers, and assistant teachers of African American pre-kindergarten children in Los Angeles County. The interview questions identified the source of information for creating a culturally relevant and developmentally appropriate classroom environment and instructional practices. The literature review identified the benefits of a high-quality preschool experience for African American children. A high-quality learning environment and the consistent implementation of research-based instructional practices are created and sustained by culturally competent teachers who receive ongoing professional development and access to quality resources. The literature showed that African American teachers expressed concerns about the universal aspect of DAP for all children, leading teachers to adapt their practices to meet the cultural and developmental needs of the children. The key findings for the source of information for creating a CRT environment and instructional practices identified personal experiences, other preschool programs, multicultural workshops, multicultural resource books, and child development classes. The literature review and study findings supported the connection between the belief in DAP and the implementation of DAP in the classroom. The key findings for the source of information for creating a DAP environment and instructional practices were child development classes, trial and error, DAP workshops, and other preschool teachers. An additional finding was the challenge participants experienced when attempting to discern between creating the classroom environment and identifying instructional practices to implement the curriculum. The conclusions drawn from the study were that preschool directors, teachers, and assistant teachers used personal experiences as the primary source information for creating a CRT and DAP environment and implementing CRT and DAP instructional practices. Lastly, the disconnect between the culture of the students, real-life classroom experiences and child development classes, multicultural workshops, and multicultural resources impact the quality and consistency of implementation of CRT and DAP in the classroom.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Leadership, administration, and policy; African American children -- Education (Preschool) -- California -- Los Angeles County -- Case studies; African American educators -- Education (Preschool) -- California -- Los Angeles County -- Case studies; Culturally relevant pedagogy -- California -- Los Angeles County

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Barner, Robert R.;