Date of Submission


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



Department Chair

Robert A. DiTomasso, Ph.D., ABPP

First Advisor

Diane Smallwood, Psy.D., Chairperson

Second Advisor

Rosemary Mennuti, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

Lucila Hernandez, Psy.D.


Immigrant students are the fastest growing sector of the US school population.These students are English Language Learners (ELLs) who enter our schools with a constellation of social-emotional risk factors that predispose them to psychological disorders, as well as undermine their learning and educational outcomes. English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESL) teacher support is indicated to be a primary protective factor for ELLs facing the pervasive task of acculturation to a new society and school culture. This study surveyed 200 ESL teachers in Pennsylvania in order to gather information regarding their beliefs about the social-emotional and acculturation needs of their students, and the supports they provide to address those needs. Responses were analyzed to determine if descriptions of teacher supports and student behaviors were consistent with the motivational constructs of teacher involvement, relatedness, and engagement found in the general school adjustment literature. Survey results indicated that ESL teachers perceive that academic stress and inadequate instructional adaptations in the mainstream curriculum undermine self-efficacy in ELLs. The findings suggest that ESL teachers attempt to instill perceived academic self-competence in their students through targeted involvement supports, including acculturation strategies that perpetrate a sense of classroom and school belonging.