ERG SES C 04, Interactive Poster Session
What role do teachers play in the societal integration of immigrant students through formal schooling in Italy? As migration increases globally, the European Union and state governments continue to seek appropriate responses to growing diversity. One response, interculturalism, has been promoted by the international community and adopted in national education policies, such as those of Italy. However, as a country of new immigration, Italy is new also to the educational processes associated with it. Despite Italy’s population of close to 815,000 foreign students in 2015/2016, there remains a dearth of research on intercultural education from the perspective of teachers throughout the country.
My research addresses primary teachers’ understandings, attitudes, and experiences regarding intercultural education for foreign student integration. This study poses the following questions. First, “What are Italian primary teachers’ understandings of and attitudes toward intercultural education?” Next, “What are Italian primary teachers’ experiences with implementing intercultural education in the classroom?” Finally, “To what extent do these understandings, attitudes, and experiences differ by geographic location (i.e., Northern, Central, and Southern Italy)?”
Recent scholarship on intercultural education has focused on Northern Italy, such as Dusi et al.’s (2017) comparison of teacher attitudes in Lombardy, Veneto, and Trentino Alto Adige. As Bray (2008) highlights, the most dominant unit of analysis in intercultural education research remains the nation-state. However, Steiner-Khamsi (2010) argues that the nation-state unit of analysis is problematic, as policy is recontextualized and adapted as it moves from the supranational to local levels. This study thus moves beyond existing studies in Northern Italy and assumes that intercultural pedagogy is affected by the differences proposed by Propato (2010), who explains that Northern Italy’s main challenge of second-generation immigrants is very different from Southern Italy’s larger number of new arrivals, which is complicated by the South’s scarcity of resources and lower social capital.
This study uses Felice & Rizzo’s (2016) definition of integration as a bi-directional process in which immigrants and their host society are mutually responsible for engaging in dialogue. It adopts Anzani’s (n.d.) view of schools as a tool for integration through the dynamic and participatory pedagogy advocated by Favaro & Papa (2009). While some scholars refer interchangeably to interculturalism and multiculturalism, the theoretical lens of Anzani (n.d.) applied in this study is based on that of Puzic (2007), Faas et al. (2014), and Mikulec (2015) who distinguish interculturalism from multiculturalism. Anzani’s (n.d.) definition of intercultural education calls for schools to promote dialogue, exchange, and the questioning of ideas of culture and diversity, thereby becoming intercultural rather than “doing interculture.”
Becoming intercultural requires a reconceptualization of relationships according to Agostino’s (2006) view of cultural diversity as the foundation for quality education. Combined with UNESCO’s 2006 Guidelines on Intercultural Education, which promote collaboration, communication, and the confronting of prejudices, Anzani’s (n.d.) intercultural education requires mutual reflection on and critical analysis of the inherent challenges of increasing diversity. Anzani’s (n.d.) approach is reflected in Niesyto’s (2013) conflict-oriented pedagogy of dialogue about conflict, stereotypes, and racism, as opposed to pedagogy of encounter, which encourages exchange and cooperation among different groups. Using this theoretical framework, this study explores teachers’ views of interculturalism to determine: if they see integration and cooperation as bi-directional; if they distinguish interculturalism from multiculturalism by viewing the former as the active questioning of ideas, cultures, and differences; if their examples of pedagogy show dynamic and participatory learning; and if their pedagogy is conflict-oriented and involves shared reflection and critical. This framework will provide a deeper understanding of the role that teachers play in understanding and enacting Italy’s approach to intercultural education in the classroom.
A survey research design will be used to explore and describe Italian primary teachers’ understandings of, attitudes toward, and experiences with intercultural education. Participants include primary teachers with at least one foreign student in their classrooms at the time of the study. Thirty-six teachers (12 from each region) will be selected via purposive sampling from Emilia-Romagna, Umbria, and Calabria - one region each in Northern, Central, and Southern Italy, respectively, where foreign students comprise the highest percentage of total students. This sample size was determined according to Guest et al.’s (2006) use of consensus theory to explain that small samples can provide a complete picture within a particular cultural context if the participants possess expertise and share experiences about the subject and the population is rather homogeneous. I will conduct semi-structured, open-ended interviews with quantitative questions about number of years teaching and number of years of experience with immigrant students. The remainder (majority) of the interview questions will be open-ended to allow for analysis regarding teachers’ understandings of interculturalism in the classroom (e.g., Do they distinguish it from multiculturalism by promoting discussion of difference?), their attitudes toward diversity (e.g., Do they see diversity as a tool for critical thinking?), and experiences with interculturalism (e.g., Do their classroom practices reflect conflict-oriented pedagogy?) Interviews will be transcribed, coded, and analyzed using a mixed method model. First, I will use descriptive statistics for univariate analysis of years teaching and for years of experience with immigrant students. I will use frequency distributions for these variables overall and regionally. I will identify themes in the data using guidelines set forth by Ryan & Bernard (2003) and then quantititize the data to identify relationships, such as sequence, cause-effect, or function among variables. I will conduct univariate analysis to provide frequency distributions of the coded variables, e.g., teachers’ perceived role in intercultural education and identified beneficiaries of intercultural education. I will next use multivariate analysis (contingency tables) to analyze the relationships in the frequency of these variables. I will look for relationship between the frequency of the coded variables and teachers’ years of teaching and years of experience with immigrant students. I will do the same to analyze patterns in the frequency of these variables (responses) and their relationship with geographic location. Finally, I will use inferential statistics to determine the p-value of any relationships that emerge between responses and location.
By focusing on teacher attitudes and competences, recent studies (Anzani, n.d.; Coin, 2017; Dusi et al., 2017) have provided greater insight into the role of teachers in intercultural education. While these studies have moved beyond the nation-state level of analysis, they have not yet looked beyond Northern Italy to explore regional differences in teachers’ understandings, attitudes, and experiences. Without more in-depth research within and among regions, not only in Italy but also in other contexts (such as other states experiencing immigration flows) that aim to implement intercultural education policy, it is not possible to understand the experiences of teachers, who play a major role in the creation of intercultural school environments. If teachers are to be trained according to European policies that urgently call for intercultural education, these policies must be carefully informed by empirical research that compares teachers’ experiences within and among various contexts. While Coin (2017) concludes that there is no relationship between location and pedagogical approach, this conclusion is not able to be drawn for a broader location (i.e., Italy) until further research explores other Italian contexts (i.e., regional differences). By analyzing teachers’ attitudes, understandings, and experiences and comparing them among Northern, Central, and Southern Italy, I expect to find that critical regional differences proposed by Propato (2010) will challenge the conclusions reached by previous research, such as that of Coin (2017). As Anzani (n.d.) cautions through the lens of globalization, everything runs the risk of seeming to be intercultural because of the proliferation of such ideologies. Thus, greater attention must be given to ensuring that the implementation of such ideologies through complex processes and pedagogies is not trivialized. This study will provide a more comprehensive and regionally nuanced view of the needs of teachers in implementing interculturalism for the integration of foreign students.
Anzani, M. (n.d.). Una prospettiva interculturale per i processi di accoglienza dei bambini stranieri nei sistemi educativi italiani: dalla teoria alla ricerca sul campo [An intercultural perspective for the processes of reception of foreign children in the Italian education systems: From theory to research in the field] (Unpublished master’s thesis). University of Padua, Italy. Retrieved from https://www.academia.edu/6919816/_Una_ prospettiva_interculturale_per_i_processi_di_accoglienza_dei_bambini_stranieri_nei_ sistemi_educativi_italiani_dalla_teoria_alla_ricerca_sul_campo_Masters_Thesis Bray, M. (2008). The WCCES and intercultural dialogue: Historical perspectives and continuing challenges. International Review of Education, 54(3-4), 299-317. Doi: 10.1007/s11159-007-9076-6 Coin, F. (2017). Does enactive teaching improve inclusion of immigrant pupils? A research in Northern Italy’s schools. SAGE Open, April-June 2017, 1-12. doi: 10.1177/215824401770640 Dusi, P., Rodorigo, M., & Aristo, P. A. (2017). Teaching in our society: Primary teachers and intercultural competences. Procedia - Social & Behavioral Sciences, 237, 96-102. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1877042817300459 Faas, D., Hajisoterious, C., & Angelides, P. (2014). Intercultural education in Europe: Policies, practices, and trends. British Educational Research Journal, 40, 300-318. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/berj.3080/pdf Favaro, G., & Papa, N. (2009). Non uno di meno. Le ragazze e i ragazzi stranieri nella scuola superiore. F. Angeli (Ed.). Milan: La Melagrana. Filice, S., & Rizzo, R. (2016). Educare alla coesione sociale. Progetto di formazione interculturale per gli immigrati [Educating for social cohesion. A project for intercultural training for immigrants]. In M. Giusti (Ed.), Building bridges. L’educazione interculturale all’epoca dei nuovi fondamentalismi: Ricerche, sperimentazioni didattiche, progetti educativi [Building bridges. Intercultural education in the age of new fundamentalism] (pp. 55-59). Milan: Università degli Studi di Milano–Bicocca. Guest, G., Bunce, A., & Johnson, L. (2006). How many interviews are enough? An experiment with data saturation and variability. Field Methods, 18(1), 59-82. Niesyto, H. (2013). Intercultural education and the media - an educational perspective. In M. L. Pirner and J. Lähnemann (Eds.), Media power and religions: The challenge facing intercultural dialogue and learning (pp. 117-126). Frankfurt, Germany: Peter Lang. Propato, P. P. (2010). Nord e Sud dell’Italia: Tra localizzazione dei diritti e sfide interculturali [The North and South of Italy: Between the localization of rights and intercultural challenges]. Ricerche di Pedagogia e Didattica, 5(2), 1-16. Retrieved from https://rpd.unibo.it/article/viewFile/1962/1343 Steiner-Khamsi, G. (2010). The politics and economics of comparison. Comparative Education Review, 54(3), 323-342. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/653047
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