Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


School of Education


International and Multicultural Education


International & Multicultural Education EdD

First Advisor

Sedique Popal

Second Advisor

David Donahue

Third Advisor

Kevin Oh


Often, immigrants in the United States have suffered traumatic experiences in their home country, on their journey to the U.S., and/or in their process of acculturation. In English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes, symptoms of trauma can interfere with learning and acculturation. Trauma-Informed teaching can meet the needs of students who have been impacted by trauma but it is not often used in ESOL classes. This is due to a lack of teacher training, and a gap in the literature on the effects of the approach and studies that explore the perspectives of the students. Based in phenomenology and informed by teacher action research, this qualitative study sought to help fill that gap. The study investigated the impact of a six-week trauma-informed approach to teaching about implicit bias in a community-based organization in the San Francisco Bay Area. The study examined three areas regarding the students’: (a) level of anxiety about speaking about implicit bias; (b) willingness to take risks to speak about implicit bias; and (c) experiences of the trauma-informed approach to teaching about implicit bias. Data collected included six post-interviews, a teacher-researcher journal, and the final class assignment. The results of this study indicate that students did not have anxiety when speaking about implicit bias. Students spoke easily about the topic in and outside of class. There was, therefore, no issue of risk-taking. The curriculum was also effective in helping students to learn about implicit bias, as students were able to make changes to eliminate their own biases. Furthermore, the students urged friends and family to do the same. Of particular interest to the teacher-researcher was the surprise finding that some students experienced a positive impact beyond the classroom, expressed as an enhanced sense of well-being. The findings confirmed previous research regarding the effectiveness and importance of using a trauma-informed teaching approach combined with a curriculum that was meaningful and useful to students. Recommendations for future research and teaching include further studies with more students and with different populations of ESOL students.