Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Patricia Reeves

Second Advisor

Dr. Louann Bierlein Palmer

Third Advisor

Dr. Lisa Ryan


Teacher experiences, rural communities, Dominican Republic, challenges


In 2016, the Dominican Institute for Evaluation and Research of Educational Quality (IDEICE), indicated educational inequalities due to the geographical location of schools in the Dominican Republic. Despite several policies enacted by the Ministry of Education, including curriculum and teacher credentialing reforms, success indicators such as completion rates and academic performance still suggest a major achievement gap. Limitations in understanding the unique characteristics of schools that serve student in rural communities contribute to education policies that may not be sufficiently sensitive to those circumstances. One particular area of insufficient understanding is the manner in which teachers experience teaching in schools that serve a rural context. Very little is known about how these teachers address the circumstances they encounter working with students and families in rural contexts. To respond to the need for better understanding of teachers’ actual experiences teaching in schools that serve rural communities, this study used a basic interpretative qualitative research design to engage a criterion sample of 16 teachers currently teaching in schools located in rural communities. Data was collected through open-ended semi-structured interviews to: (a) profile the challenges of public-school teachers who teach within rural contexts, and (b) their professional readiness to overcome such challenges. Additionally, this study examined how teachers experience and respond to the rural community culture as they work to prepare their students to meet the requirements of the national curriculum. Findings in this research study indicate that the majority of challenges that teachers and schools located in rural communities face, are a collateral result of cultural, behavioral, and socioeconomic characteristics of rural communities. For example, illiteracy among parents limits their ability to collaborate with teachers. Lack of public transportation with access to schools restrict students from regularly attending school, eventually leading to an increase in dropout rates. Low motivation among students is often produced by socioeconomic factors that force parents to migrate, consequently, becoming absent parents unable to supervise children's school attendance and academic progress. Participants in this study described other challenges, such as lack of instructional resources, deficient school infrastructure, unequal distribution of resources, and lack of specialized teachers. While the findings from this study illuminate the challenges that teachers encounter as they teach in rural contexts and the lack of specific preparation they receive to do so, this study also revealed a surprising degree of commitment, creativity, and collaborative support to address such challenges. These research findings aim to contribute with a deeper understanding of the challenges that have the potential to interfere with school performance, students’ academic achievement, and teachers' instructional practice when serving schools in rural communities. These findings can assist policymakers in the design of robust and informed future research and policies to positively impact education in rural communities in the Dominican Republic.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access