Date of Award

Summer 8-15-2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Executive Ed.D. in Education Leadership Management and Policy


Education Leadership, Management and Policy


Anthony Colella, PhD

Committee Member

Barbara Strobert. EdD

Committee Member

Rhoda Shore, PhD

Committee Member

Katherine Smelter, EdD


theme-based, problem-based learning, curriculum, cross-curricular, integrated curriculum


The purpose of this study was to explore how teachers in Grades 3-8 in one New Jersey school district perceive theme-based lessons on student level of engagement and teaching pedagogy when using their own initiatives to develop a theme-based approach. Research was conducted using a qualitative design to investigate the perceptions and observations of those directly involved in developing theme-based lessons in the classroom. Twelve participants, all experienced teachers within the district of study, participated in a pre-selection questionnaire and an interview process. Increased student engagement, good teaching practices, and teaching pedagogy were dominant themes in this study. The study addressed various aspects of teacher perceptions of theme-based lessons on teaching pedagogy and student level of engagement when theme-based lessons are used without formal training or administrative guidance. This study found that all teachers were open to using theme-based lessons but felt the need for professional development and training to appropriately implement theme-based lessons. It was also found that all teachers perceived students as actively engaged during theme-based lessons and noted these experiences as positive. Findings suggest that theme-based lessons can create positive learning experiences and student outcomes but require a districtwide initiative led by the administration. This study identified a need for a problem-based learning initiative that offers professional development and training that supports a theme-based lesson approach for the district.