Education K-12 M.A.

Year Approved


First Advisor

Silmser, Lisa


This literature review was conducted to answer two questions. What are the negative effects of growing up in poverty on brain development and how can teachers level the playing field? The following chapters highlight the areas of the brain most effected by poverty, the functions of those specific areas, along with the negative side effects that come with having underdeveloped portions of the brain. Some of the negative side effects include impulsivity, lack of decision-making, weakened working memory, and difficulty with reading comprehension. Subsequently, there will be specific interventions that can aid in bridging the gap between low-income and middle- to upper-class students accompanied by when those interventions should be implemented. The earliest and possibly most important of the interventions is high-quality childcare and preschool. At the elementary level, the strongest interventions are those that focus on social emotional learning. At the secondary level, mentoring, teacher expectations, and consistent strong leadership tend to make a lasting difference. Lastly, the research will show what teachers can do to support low-income students in the classroom. Maintaining high expectations for all learners is one of the most important actions a teacher can take to boost the students who are suffering from the negative effects of poverty on brain development.

Degree Name

Education K-12 M.A.

Document Type

Masterʼs thesis

Included in

Education Commons