Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Executive Leadership

First Supervisor

Marie Cianca

Second Supervisor

Joellen Maples


The purpose of the study was to bring light to a persistent and growing problem in American public schools. There is a fundamental lack of understanding on the part of school personnel and native-born American students about the unique needs and challenges faced by English language learners (ELLs) and immigrant students in American schools. The study investigated if having students read graphic novels, while using critical literacy theory as an analytical lens, helped non-ELL students foster deeper understanding about the unique challenges facing ELL and immigrant children. This qualitative study employed an inductive analysis of data collected from classroom observations and focus groups. The findings suggest that reading graphic novels using critical literacy theory was effective in helping non-ELL students develop new connections and understandings about the issues faced by ELLs and immigrant children during their immigration journeys, particularly their experiences in American public schools. The findings also suggest that school leaders should provide teachers with targeted professional development about the unique needs of ELLs, the use of graphic novels, and the efficacy of critical literary theory. Further recommendation suggests school personnel also take steps to make their schools more welcoming and accommodating to ELL students and their families.

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