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Pre-Service Teacher Education for Diversity

By Debra Pane

Florida International University

 

 

Preparing teachers for children in poverty from diverse culture groups has not changed much since B. O. Smith (1969) first condemned teacher education for not addressing students of all social origins (Haberman, 1996). Traditional teacher education courses perpetuate the “normal science” (King, 2005, p. 7) paradigm of learning. In this paradigm, diverse students are viewed as being at risk or disadvantaged and whose successes are measured by universal standards. This way of thinking provides pre-service teachers with narrow ideas about teaching in urban and diverse schools (Haberman, 1996). As a result, widespread practices (e.g., ability grouping, tracking) of excluding diverse students’ histories, experiences, cultures, languages, and values persist in our schools (Giroux & McLaren, 1986; Oakes, 1985). These systematic practices thrive on teacher-led instruction which limit the opportunities for underserved student populations to be involved in active cultural learning that builds on the knowledge they bring with them to school (Garcia, 1996).     

            Two strategies are generally used in U. S. teacher education programs for diversity: the infusion approach and the segregation approach. The infusion approach integrates cultural diversity throughout all courses and field experiences in a program. The segregated, or traditional, approach includes cultural diversity as a topic in a course or possibly one course in the program. Scholars prefer an infusion approach to teacher education for diversity because studies have shown little impact on teacher’s attitudes, beliefs, and practices from the segregation approach (Zeichner & Hoeft, 1996). However, the segregation approach is most common. Success in broadening the university’s traditional teacher preparation programs into inclusive frameworks for cultural diversity has been slow largely due to misconceptions about the notion of multicultural education. 

            Multicultural education was founded in diversity and is grounded in principles of democracy, equity, and justice. Controversy as to the definition and application of multicultural education ranges from the most common add-on techniques (e.g., learn about cultural food, holidays, and celebrities) to challenging racism in the curriculum (Hidalgo, Chávez-Chávez, & Ramage, 1996). The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education’s (NCATE) requires teacher education programs to incorporate multicultural perspectives and cultural diversity. If the multicultural educational model is naïve (i.e., add-on technique), the program promotes a narrow curriculum for pre-service teachers, which focuses on celebrations, segregation of courses, and a general feeling of a lack of educator responsibility and knowledge about cultural diversity (Nieto, 2002; Banks, 1991).        

            Multicultural education courses and training are more common today, but they continue to be vaguely defined among five approaches (i.e., teaching culturally different students, human relations, single-group studies, multicultural education, and education that is multicultural and reconstructionism). Multicultural education typically focuses on more traditional pedagogical courses and training and reports little change in pre-service teachers’ attitudes and expectations about culturally diverse students. The traditional view of teaching (i.e., transmission model which hands over information) has also affected the goal of the courses (i.e., attitude change) by limiting the course content to superficial ways of convincing teachers to add culture into their lesson plans and attitudes (Hidalgo et al., 1996).

            A growing number of “poor and minority students…reject what the schools have to offer and slowly but surely leave that painful environment” (Barone, Berliner, Blanchard, Casanova, & McGowan, 1996, p. 1138). This reality persists in the stark disparities in achievement between White students and students of color (Banks et al., 2005). Teacher quality is the single most important influence on students’ educational successes and achievement (Delpit, 1995; Hollins & Guzman, 2005; Hooks, 1994; Ladson-Billings, 1994; Ladson-Billings & Tate, 2004; NPTARS, 2005). However, most secondary teachers are White and middle class and have had few experiences with students who differ from themselves (NPTARS, 2005). New teacher education pedagogies have been developed to prepare teachers for the diverse and poor students they will teach, but they focus mostly on what White middle class pre-service teachers do not know. This study examined how pre-service teachers come to know and perceive teaching for diversity. 

 

 

Research Questions

 

It is generally agreed upon by the educational community that teachers are the major factor in influencing students’ achievement (Hollins & Guzman, 2005). In response to the persistent disparities in achievement and resources between students of color and White students for the past two decades, demands on educators to have the knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary to competently teach increasingly culturally and academically diverse and poor students are rising (Artiles & McClafferty, 1998; Chubbuck, 2004; Hollins & Guzman, 2005). The future of U.S. teacher education needs to rethink its traditional teacher education programs in order to adequately prepare its future teachers with the attitudes and dispositions needed to work with culturally and linguistically diverse and poor students (Hollins & Guzman, 2005; Zeichner & Hoeft, 1996). Preparing teachers to teach poor and diverse students partially rests on addressing teachers’ low expectations of diverse and poor students, unfamiliarity with their students’ backgrounds and communities, and lack of sensitivity to their own prejudices and values (Zeichner & Hoeft, 1996). Little evidence exists in the educational research literature of successful efforts to influence the dispositions and attitudes of pre-service teachers for cultural diversity over the long-term.

More conclusive research about successful teacher development which integrates issues of diversity with the rest of teacher education and the new teacher education is also needed (Cochran-Smith, 2005; Hollins & Guzman, 2005; Larkin, 1995; Whitehorse, 1996). A specific focus in pre-service teacher education on socializing teachers for teaching a culturally diverse student population has been given little attention. Little empirical evidence has been reported to support transformation in teacher thinking and practice over the short- or long-term (King, 1991; Larkin & Sleeter, 1995). Therefore, the growing need to help teachers attain the attitudes, knowledge, skills, and dispositions to work effectively with cultural diversity in their classrooms is essential (Zeichner & Hoeft, 1996).

            A lack of empirical evidence to support the common sense conclusion that the predominately skills-based teacher training of today has little effect on changing teachers’ deficit views about teaching and learning. Personal transformations necessary for learning to teach diverse student populations are definitely not addressed in the single course or one-shot workshops (Banks et al., 2005; Zeichner & Hoeft, 1996). On the other hand, there is evidence in the extant literature about practices that facilitate greater sensitivity and knowledge about cultural diversity. But there is little evidence about practices and strategies that permit the development of enhanced intercultural competence among teachers. Thus, investigating how particular kinds of experiences for teachers at pre-service levels are connected to the character and quality of their teaching is needed if teachers are to become more effective in teaching culturally diverse students in order to produce more equitable student outcomes (Zeichner & Hoeft, 1996).

            For the present study, I examined the following questions:

  1. How do pre-service teachers think about teaching for diversity upon entering an undergraduate content-area reading teacher education course?

 

  1. What growth (if any) occurs in pre-service teacher thinking about teaching for diversity during an undergraduate content-area reading teacher education course which included unmonitored field experiences with at-risk students?

 

  1. How did the thinking and growth differ in pre-service teachers with two different instructors?

 

Theoretical Framework

 

The theoretical framework for this study is drawn from the constructivist view of learning (Artiles and McClafferty, 1998; Atherton, 2005; Bransford, Derry, Berliner, Hammerness, & Beckett, 2005). Constructivism is a set of theories about learning based on the notion that people construct new knowledge from their current knowledge, skills, and developmental levels (Atherton, 2005). Social constructivism suggests that social interaction plays a fundamental role in the development of cognition (Vygotsky, 1978). It emphasizes how thought processes mediate behavior in a participatory context. Teachers develop and transform knowledge and beliefs about teaching and learning from previous and current experiences within social contexts and according to their developmental level (Barone et al., 1996; Pajares, 1992). Teachers’ conceptions about school develop from prior experiences in school (Banks et al, 2005).

 

 

Review of the Literature

 

Pre-service Teacher Education for Linguistic and Cultural Diversity

 

Teacher educators can help prepare teachers for diversity by contextualizing the social nature of learning (Haberman, 1996). Diverse students should be understood within the broader context of their lives outside and inside school (Garcia, 1996). Teachers with high expectations of students provide them with socially, culturally, and linguistically meaningful contexts for learning. Teachers must consider the relationship between the home and school and its effect on students’ learning achievement. Language, culture, and values that accompany them are what children come to school knowing. Pre-service teachers need to become familiar with a responsive pedagogy by recognizing the importance of cognitive, social, and cultural dimensions of learning. They need to replace the preconceived myths about the students from lower socioeconomic homes with high expectations for these students as competent language learners (Garcia, 1996; Ladson-Billings, 1994; Ríos, 1996).             

            Pre-service teachers can be guided to ask specific contextual questions such as “How do students communicate in their communities? Do students feel more comfortable with communal or individualistic approaches to learning?” They will learn to use culturally responsive approaches in meeting the needs of students and their families (LePage et al., 2005). The best teachers for diverse students do not believe that kids are kids and teaching is the same for all kids. Whether they have experienced urban education and living or have developed empathy of others’ situations, dispositions of the best urban teachers manifest in the approaches they use and beliefs they have about their students. They are persistent, protective, and responsible for their students’ successes at individual, personal, and bureaucratic levels. In other words, they will stand up for their students against anything or anyone who stands in the way of their success.

           

Multicultural Education for Pre-service Teacher Education

 

The multicultural education literature for teacher education suggests incorporating multicultural education into all facets of the educational enterprise (Hidalgo et al., 1996). Multicultural education is an educational reform grounded on the notion that all students (regardless of their gender, class, or cultural characteristics) should have an equal opportunity to learn in school (Banks, 2001). Multicultural education supports the values of diversity, cooperation, and a caring community for teacher education programs for cultural diversity. Ideally, teacher educators should feel collectively responsible for modeling these beliefs if they desire pre-service teachers to apply them successfully. The context of a university-wide effort to infuse multicultural education across the curriculum would build multicultural education into the curriculum in order to communicate a broad consensus about the goals and values that are desired of teachers who are prepared for cultural diversity. The development of one’s own cultural identity is essential for cross-cultural understanding (Banks, 2001; King, 1991). Curriculum and instruction strategies are important for preparing pre-service teachers’ dispositions and identities for cultural diversity, but that coursework and academic analysis alone are inadequate for the necessary level of dispositions needed to develop greater intercultural competence (Zeichner & Hoeft, 1996). Teacher educators can begin to increase pre-service teachers’ knowledge of their own cultural positions in order to work with students who are culturally different from them.

           

Pre-service Teacher Dispositions

 

The most current empirical research about the dispositions of pre-service teachers for cultural diversity has found that most are White, female, middle class, and have limited experiences with cultures different than their own (Hollins & Guzman, 2005). Many have negative attitudes and beliefs about those who differ from themselves. Many are unwilling or feel unprepared to teach in urban schools. Hollins & Guzman’s (2005) recent review of research on the preparation of teachers for diversity found that most studies were qualitative and conducted in university or field experience settings. Their review includes research studies concerned with (a) prejudice reduction, (b) equity pedagogy, (c) field experiences, and (d) preparation of pre-service teachers of color.

 

            Prejudice reduction. Most of the studies primarily concerned with prejudice reduction report positive short-term results on the pre-service teachers’ attitudes and beliefs. They used a “model or interpretive framework, introducing dissonance and discontinuity, cognitive coaching, or the use of critical text analysis” (Hollins & Guzman, 2005, p. 489). Few studies, however, were longitudinal or included follow-up investigations. The problematic methodological issues were small sample sizes; short time frames; self-report rather than direct observation or documentation; little context, participant, or findings information; and little information about fitting prejudice reduction activities into the larger picture of existing teacher education structures.

 

Equity pedagogy. Studies that look at preparing pre-service teachers to use equity pedagogy (i.e., when teachers use methods and materials that support the academic achievement of diverse and minority students) report mixed results. Several noted inflexibility and rigidity as problematic in pre-teachers’ thinking (Hollins & Guzman, 2005). Others reported positive outcomes. These studies found that early socialization in teacher preparation and understanding of the subject matter can influence the use of equity pedagogy, but not necessarily resulting in increased academic performance of students. Methodological issues were raised by not knowing how the researcher, also the instructor in most studies, and participant relationships were handled. Small convenient sample sizes, short-term studies, inadequate description of contexts, and whether the pre-service teachers actually use what they learned once they become teachers were also limitations in the studies with positive outcomes.

 

Field experiences. Teacher educators and both pre-and in-service teachers agree that field experiences are the most important aspect of teacher preparation (Hollins & Guzman, 2005). A large body of research on how experienced teachers do or do not effectively teach minority students (e.g., culturally relevant pedagogy, culturally responsive teaching) has influenced teacher preparation, field coursework, and student teaching. It concentrates on pre-service teachers’ perspective on their increased “awareness, understanding, and acceptance of those different from themselves” (Hollins & Guzman, 2005, p. 493).

 

            Preparation of pre-service teachers of color. Research on the experiences of pre-service teachers of color provides some insight into the challenges they undergo in teacher preparation programs. They face financial, social, personal, and inadequate academic preparation for college. Even though various means for accommodating pre-service teachers of color have been developed (e.g., cohorts, pairing with White candidates, using insider knowledge), pre-service teachers of color still feel alienated.           

 

Overall, the use of activities to increase understanding about diversity have shown mixed results. The barriers stem from positivistic thinking, relying on personal biographies, and a belief in one right answer. Teacher candidates of color feel more comfortable in cohorts when allowed to bring their unique knowledge to the table, and have more experience and are more understanding of inequities. However, no studies mentioned how Hispanic pre-service teachers view teaching students different from themselves. For this reason, it would be of interest to look at how population of mostly Hispanic pre-service teachers view teaching for diversity.

 

 

Method

 

A naturalistic qualitative research design was used to investigate how Hispanic pre-service teachers think about teaching for diversity and any growth that may have occurred during the course of the study. Naturalistic inquiry is a “design strategy for studying real-world situations as they unfold naturally with an openness to whatever emerges” (Patton, 2002, p. 40). Qualitative data in this study consisted of naturally occurring written reflections and concept maps (Patton, 2002).

 

Participants

 

            A convenience sample of fifty-eight pre-service teachers participated in this study. The pre-service teachers were enrolled in two sections of a required content-area reading education course, which included field experiences with at-risk students. They attended a multicultural-designated public research university located in a large culturally diverse county. The university student population is multicultural, typical of the sample of this study. The participants’ cultural backgrounds were insightful for the questions of the study (Patton, 2002). Eighty percent of this sample was female, which is typical of the pre- and in-service teacher population in our country. However, 85% of this sample was Hispanic, 10% White, and 5% African American, which is atypical for teacher populations (Darling-Hammond, Hammerness, Grossman, Rust, & Shulman, 2005).     

Class 1 and Class 2 were distinctive in the instruction they received in two ways for this study. Participants in Class 1 were taught by a White female doctoral student who had assisted the professor, also a White female, who instructed Class 2 in two previous semesters. The doctoral student presented the same material via power point slides with small-group interactions interjected throughout each class. The small-group interactions were used to practice learning-to-learn reading strategies chosen by the professor of Class 2. The second distinction in instruction was what was requested from each class in their first session and in their weekly journals. Weekly journals were a reflection on their field experience with at-risk students. Class 1 was specifically asked to think about effective teaching for culturally diverse students during the first class and to include cultural comments in their journals while reflecting on their field experiences. Class 2 was not prompted to think about culture in class or in their journals.

 

Data Collection

 

This study used two alternative data collection strategies (i.e., concept map and written reflections on field experiences). Concept maps entitled “Effective Teaching for Culturally Diverse Students” were constructed by the 34 participants of Class 1 the first day of the course. Concept maps have been used in previous studies to assess conceptual changes in pre-service teachers’ thinking and to measure how individuals organize and construct their knowledge (Morine-Dershimer et al., 1992). Artiles and McClafferty (1998) were the first researchers to use concept maps to assess the effects of multicultural education courses on pre-service teachers’ thinking. The present study used concept maps to assess pre-service teachers’ thinking about teaching for diversity upon entering the course.  

            Data were also collected from the weekly written reflections on their field teaching experiences. During the field experience, participants implemented content area reading course material (i.e., learning-to-learn strategies) which had been discussed and practiced in a previous class. Data included any cultural comments they may have written in their journal reflections. Five hundred fifty written reflections were collected over the semester (333 from Class 1; 217 from Class 2).

 

Data Analysis

 

            The data analysis was context sensitive and extrapolated patterns for adaptability in new settings (Patton, 2002). Knowledge and beliefs were defined as grouping terms in order to categorize outcomes. Use of multiple methods and perspectives, or data triangulation (i.e., written reflections, concept maps), “reflect[ed] an attempt to secure an in-depth understanding of the question of this study” (Denzin & Lincoln, 2005, p. 5). Triangulation is an alternative to validation that adds “rigor, breadth, complexity, richness, and depth” (Denzin & Lincoln, 2005, p. 5) to this study to assess the thinking (i.e. conceptual understandings) of teacher education students about teaching for diversity.

 

            Concept maps. An inductive, exploratory data analysis approach in line with the constructivist and sociocultural viewpoints was used to examine the density of the concept maps in order to determine how participants construct their knowledge about effective teaching of culturally diverse students. The assumption was that “people’s graphic representations of constructs via concept maps mirror their knowledge” (Artiles and McClafferty, 1998, p. 193). The process assessed conceptual patterns by looking at the density of individual categories, group emphases differentiation, and hierarchical organization. A qualitative category system was developed through content analysis to code the content of the maps.

 

            Written reflections. Pre-service teachers’ written reflections made across the course duration were transcribed and then coded into categories in order to emphasize patterns in their intent and ideas about teaching culturally diverse students. The assumption was that knowledge constructions develop and transform according to previous and current experiences within social contexts according to the developmental level of the learner (Barone et al., 1996). Transcribed segments were compared within and across categories (i.e., constant comparison) according to qualitative research tradition. The constructs were compared through revision of categories until satisfactory closure was achieved (Gall, Gall, & Borg, 2003).

The goal of constant comparison was to discover themes in the pre-service teacher participants’ thinking about teaching for diversity from which conclusions could be made. Marshall’s (1996) Multicultural Teaching Concerns Categories derived from a survey given to pre-service education majors and experienced teachers was used as a model to discern pattern emphases within the categories developed from the concept maps and reflections. The categories included concerns in four areas: (a) “Familial/Group Knowledge,” or culture and background; (b) “Strategies and Techniques,” or using appropriate techniques and content in the curriculum; (c) “Interpersonal Competence,” or cross-cultural competence, the “impact of personal attitudes, actions, and/or beliefs on interactions with diverse student populations” (Marshall, 1996, p. 247); and (d) “School Bureaucracy,” or the impact of the structure and actions of schools and personnel on multicultural education in schools.

 

 

Findings

 

            The results of this study revealed how the participants constructed their thinking and knowledge about teaching culturally diverse students when asked (or not) to voice their thinking (e.g., make cultural comments) about teaching for diversity. Patterns of emphases in the concept maps and the written reflections are explained below. The following findings share the results for Class 1 only due to the absence of any cultural comments from Class 2. Table 1 follows with the explanations in a qualitative/quantitative summary.

 

Concept Maps

 

The concept maps in Class 1 (with 34 students) portrayed no mention of familial/group knowledge. Twenty seven maps focused only on strategies and techniques with six noting interpersonal competence once or twice. One map focused specifically on interpersonal competence. None mentioned school bureaucracy. Class 2 was not asked to make concept maps. 

 

Written Reflections

 

Familial/group knowledge. Cultural comments were coded in the category of “Familial/Group Knowledge” if they reflected teachers’ perceptions of the impact of ethnicity or race on experiences at school or if they implied gaps in their knowledge about students’ cultural backgrounds. Fifteen comments were made about race, language, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status. The majority of these comments were simple descriptions or statements. The following quotes typify the comments in this category:

 

Strategies and techniques. Cultural comments about selecting and using the most appropriate teaching materials and strategies for maximal student learning were coded into the category of “Strategies and Techniques.” Two comments fit in this category, typified as students’ learning styles or interests:

 

Interpersonal competence. Five comments were coded into the “Interpersonal Competence” category. Interpersonal competence relates to what the teacher and students think of each other as it affects the ability for both to interact fairly (Marshall, 1996). The theme of the amount of information students learned and the way they learned in five comments was exemplified in the following quote:

 

School bureaucracy. The final category, “School Bureaucracy,” related to issues beyond the teachers’ classroom control in trying to meet the diverse students’ need (Marshall, 1996). It was not mentioned in any of the written reflections from Class 1. Class 2 did not mention cultural concerns or thoughts at all in any of the written reflections.

 

Table 1 below displays a qualitative and quantitative summary of the participants’ thinking about diversity as presented in the findings.

 

Table 1

 

Qualitative/Quantitative Summary of Patterns in Pre-service Teacher Thinking about Diversity

 

 

 

 

Class 1                                                           

                 N=34

 

 

 

 

 

Class 2

 N=24

 

Multicultural Teaching Concerns Categories

 

 

 

Concept

Maps

n=34

 

 

Written

Reflections

n=333

 

 

 

 

 

Written Reflections

n=217

 

 

Familial/Group Knowledge

 

 

 

0

 

 

15

 

 

0

 

 

Theme: Race, language, ethnicity, socioeconomic status

 

 

Strategies and Techniques (S&T)

 

 

27 (S&T focus)

6   (IC included) 

 

2

 

 

0

 

 

 

 

Theme: Learning Styles and students’ interests 

 

 

 

Interpersonal Competence (IC)

 

 

1   (totally IC)

 

5

 

 

 

0

Theme: Amount of information students learned and the way information was learned

 

School Bureaucracy

 

 

0

 

0

 

 

0

 

Note: Numerals stand for the number of time cultural comments were included in map or written reflection.

 

 

 

Discussion

 

Pre-service teachers’ thinking about diversity throughout the course depicted previous frames of reference and prior knowledge based on a traditional or transmission view of learning in which the learner’s role is to assimilate or regurgitate whatever the teacher presents (Atherton, 2005). The thinking about culture on the concept maps and in the reflections throughout the course remained superficial, static, and/or nonexistent. No growth or changes occurred in the participants’ thinking. The content of the maps and reflections relating to cultural comments were minimal. When culture was not discussed in Class 2, no cultural comments were exhibited in the reflections. Even though the pre-service teachers participated in field experiences weekly with at-risk diverse students, they reflected only on the strategies that were being learned in a course which was situated in a traditional teacher education program (Darling-Hammond et al., 2005). When cultural comments were requested in Class 1, short statements and add-on paragraphs were the typical response. Even though this class also had weekly field experiences with at-risk diverse students, pre-service teachers would repeat their original cultural comments about race, language, or ethnicity in later reflections denoting that culture to them was a static entity. Several responses equated culture to the learning styles of their student or how their students learned the information that the pre-service teacher had given them. The overall construction of knowledge in the responses reflected a previously learned traditional view of knowledge in which the teacher believes that students learn by having information transmitted to them in order for them to regurgitate it back to the teacher.

 

Tools for Teacher Educators

 

Teacher educators can learn about how pre-service teachers’ construct knowledge about teaching for diversity with the use of the concept maps and written reflections in the context of teacher education courses. The patterns can be used as a tool for developing next steps in teaching for diversity for future educators. In this study, the pre-service teachers’ overall view about culture was a superficial one which indicated that the pre-service teachers have had superficial experiences related to culture. The participants’ superficial view of cultural connections in the classroom can also be related to their previous or current educational experiences. The particular teacher education program in which the participants are a part of in this study is one with a traditional perspective (i.e., add-on, segregation, and one-shot courses) toward diversity. It will take more than a request as done in Class 2 for pre-service teachers to view diversity from a contextual or holistic perspective.

 

Culture is Static 

 

            Patterns discerned from the concept maps and reflections suggested how participants constructed their thinking about what culture means. They viewed culture as an observable item in the classroom that was static in its reality. Culture was not seen as part of a wider perspective including sociohistorical, sociopolitical, sociocultural, and socioeconomic challenges (Friere, 2000; Giroux & McLaren, 1986). Culture was believed to have little to do with how students learned, how teachers and students relate, or how schooling works overall.

If pre-service teachers were not asked to discuss culture, they did not. If they were asked to discuss culture, they did, but only superficially or because they were asked. When asked to draw a map of their views of effective teaching for diverse students, the idea of “learning strategies and techniques” dominated, which is indicative of the teacher education program and the course focus in this study. The add-on nature of multicultural courses in their teacher education program influenced the participants’ naïve or static way of looking at culture in the classroom. The pre-service teachers in this study connected culture only to the depth of their experiences and schooling. Overall, intra-group differences showed no evidence of a demonstration of connectedness in their thinking between curriculum, instruction, and contextual issues related to teaching diverse students (Lieberman, 1992; Fenstermacher, 1994). 

 

Race and Class Issues

 

The statement made earlier in this paper that the ‘future of U.S. teacher education will need to rethink its traditional teacher education programs in order to adequately prepare its future teachers with the attitudes and dispositions needed to work with culturally and linguistically diverse and poor students (Hollins & Guzman, 2005; Zeichner & Hoeft, 1996)’ has implications for this study. Even though the majority of pre-service teachers in this study were Hispanic rather than White, their thinking about teaching for diversity was unexpectedly similar to that of our country’s mostly White teaching force. Both use their previous and similar [i.e., White, middle-class, traditional] experiences and schooling to think (or not think) about teaching diverse students. White teachers in other studies and the Hispanic pre-service teachers in this study who exhibited a White, middle-class, traditional understanding of culture as static or nonexistent would both benefit from a departure in their traditional teacher education program focus to one that would help them gain and develop the dispositions and attitudes needed to work with the growing numbers of culturally and linguistically diverse and poor students who have different backgrounds from themselves. More studies about the developmental process of teacher education for diversity are needed (Artiles & McClafferty, 1998). The prevalence of the Hispanic pre-service teachers’ socioeconomic backgrounds on their thinking about teaching for diversity that has been foregrounded here may have implications which apply to the developmental and social processes of pre-service teacher education about teaching for diversity. Ultimately, class appears to supersede race in this and other studies concerned with teaching for diversity.

 

Limitations of the Study

 

Use of the concept maps as a post-evaluation of growth or the developmental process of pre-service teachers’ thinking about teaching for diversity would have added another dimension to the pre-service teachers’ thinking about diversity (Hammerness et al., 2005). Inter-rater scorers of the data would have added more reliability to this study (Patton, 2002). An in-depth description of the teacher education program, the teacher educators, and the participants in this study would have contextualized the study within other teacher education research. This would increase the possibility of linking individual studies on teacher preparation for diversity into multi-site research programs (Wilson, Floden, & Ferrini-Mundy (2001). 

 

 

 

Implications for Future Research

 

Cochran-Smith’s (2005) analysis of the new teacher education as social, ideological, rhetorical, and political practice from a multidisciplinary framework, interrelating research, policy, and practice apply to this and other studies concerning teacher education for diversity. In her analysis, the new teacher education emerges with the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA) of 1998, wherein Title II mandated the “reporting and accountability requirements for teacher education …. [The trend for the new teacher education is that it is being] constructed as a public policy problem, based on research and evidence, and driven by outcomes” (Cochran-Smith, 2005, p. 4). Future studies need to provide an impetus for collaboration among researchers to increase funding, infrastructure, and support for longitudinal research efforts to integrate issues of diversity with the rest of teacher education in light of the new education rather than marginalize them as separate or add-on research projects and courses (Cochran-Smith, 2005; Hollins & Guzman, 2005; King, 1991; Ladson-Billings & Tate, 2004).

Currently, universities report various stages of teacher preparation for diversity and mixed results in their programs. Little research has been done to relate teacher preparation for diversity programs and students’ learning outcomes. “We need research that examines the links among teacher preparation for diversity, what teacher candidates learn form this preparation, how this affects their professional practices in schools, and what the impact is on their pupils’ learning” (Hollins & Guzman, 2005, p. 512). The research today still needs to go beyond changing attitudes on self-report scales in the short-term (Grant & Secada, 1990; Hollins & Guzman, 2005). Research needs to examine the impact of teacher expectations on student learning. Outcomes are missing from the literature:

 

What we need is a longitudinal study that tracks teachers from initial preparation to their early career experiences, focusing on classroom performance and pupils’ learning as well as studies that begin with successful teaching performance, as indicated by pupils’ learning, and then tracks back to teacher-learning experiences and varying modes of teacher preparation….we should start with good teaching, and ask research questions backwards to teacher preparation. We know a great deal about effective teaching practices for diverse students, but not much about how teachers who are effective with diverse students acquired the skills, knowledge, and dispositions needed. Examining the practices and teacher preparation history of effective teachers could provide insights into what candidates need to know. (Hollins & Guzman, 2005, p. 512)

 

Future studies need to take into account the social and cultural contexts of schools and that are informed by local meanings. Courses should be designed to link teacher preparation and educational outcomes but avoid reductionist studies of single factors (Cochran-Smith, 2005). Also well-designed urban field experiences contextualized within teacher education programs with clearly stated purposes, theoretical frameworks, and carefully thought out practices and procedures may provide insight into the developmental processes that candidates go through or use in learning to teach. The social constructivist learning theory applies to pre-service teachers as well as their students (Lee, 2005). In other words, courses need to be planned with what we know about learning so that pre-service teachers can incorporate what they are learning in theory into their practices (i.e., praxis) as they are happening (Freire, 2000; Banks et al., 2005).

Subsequent research could also focus on the long-term effects of more intense courses from a developmental perspective with teachers viewed as adult learners (Artiles & McClafferty, 1998). In future studies, reading accounts or having direct contact with diverse students, providing [neglected aspects of] cultural knowledge, and learning about cases of successful teaching with culturally and linguistically diverse students are other strategies for raising the low levels of expectations pre-service teachers hold for some students (Ladson-Billings, 1994; Zeichner & Hoeft, 1996). Pre-service students could be provided with opportunities to incorporate home and community culture into the classroom, which would allow a contextual understanding of students’ cultural assets for designing learning environments (Lee, 2005; Zeichner & Hoeft, 1996).

             In effect, the pre-service teachers need to become cultural researchers or workers (Delpit, 1995; Freire, 2000). Cultural workers have a greater understanding of their own cultural identity. Understanding one’s cultural identity works with teachers’ praxis when involved in cross-cultural opportunities in schools and community field experiences. Future teacher education field experiences in partnership with schools who have professed missions which include teacher education with a special commitment to teacher development would be beneficial for both future teachers and students. Future research studies need to report the needs and perspectives of students and teachers of color and those who are White in order to meet the particular needs of diverse students and pre-service teachers (Zeichner & Hoeft, 1996). Overall, future research needs longitudinal studies which study how long-term changes are made in pre-service teachers’ dispositions for cultural diversity from instructional, curricular, and field experiences in relation to student outcomes.

           

 

References

 

Artiles, A. J., & McClafferty, K. (1998). Learning to teach culturally diverse learners: Charting change in preservice teachers’ thinking about effective teaching. The Elementary School Journal, 98(3), 189-220.

 

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