02 SES 03 A, Diversity in VET and challenges in teaching
Due to globalization and largescale migration, school classrooms in The Netherlands - as in the whole of Western Europe - increasingly display cultural diversity. This cultural diversity is characterized by not only diversity in ethnicity, but also diversity in religion, language, and cultural traditions (e.g., Ben-Peretz, Eilam, & Yankelevitch, 2006; Ladson-Billings, 2003). Culture plays a role not only in communicating but also in shaping the thinking process of groups and individuals (Ladson-Billings, 1994). Cultural diversity in school classrooms also causes extra strain for classroom teachers (Ladson-Billings, 2003; Wubbels et al., 2006). In this qualitative study, we examine the challenges teachers encounter in culturally diverse classrooms.
In 2015 the Dutch population mounted up to about 17 million (CBS, 2017). Of these, 3.7 million were either born outside the Netherlands themselves or had parents born outside the Netherlands. About 2 million people in The Netherlands have their roots in non-Western countries. Due to the cultural diversity in the large and medium-sized cities in The Netherlands, many school classrooms in these areas are becoming increasingly diverse (Crul, Güngor, & Lily, 2016) with different background characteristics and countries of origin. The cultural diversity puts high demands on teachers in the Dutch Senior Secondary Vocational Education and Training (SSVET) and the teachers find it difficult to adapt to the cultural diversity of their classrooms (author, 2012). The Dutch educational system is characterized by division (EP-Nuffic, 2014). SSVET is the lowest level of tertiary education. Approximately 493.000 students in The Netherlands are enrolled in SSVET (CBS, 2017). The Dutch SSVET is highly culturally diverse. In some schools in the large and medium-sized cities a majority of the students has a non-Western background (CBS, 2017). These culturally diverse SSVET schools face challenges on top of challenges existing in SSVET in general, such as high drop-out rates (Elffers, 2011), and motivation problems and maladaptive social behavior of their students (Neuvel, 2004). Leeman (2006) introduced several dilemmas teachers encounter in culturally diverse classrooms in general in the field of ‘contact between teacher and pupil’, ‘intercultural communication’ ‘justice’, ‘respect for school and teacher’, ‘democracy’, ‘personal autonomy’, and ‘diversity and communality’. Expertise and skills in dealing with differences are of great importance for teachers of culturally diverse classrooms (Banks, 2004; Gay, 2010; Severiens et al., 2014). Culturally responsive teaching (CRT) is a pedagogy that recognizes the importance of including students' cultural references in all aspects of learning (Ladson-Billings, 1994). CRT means taking into account as a teacher the cultural and social background of students and using of cultural characteristics in education to fit the special needs of culturally diverse groups (Gay, 2002). In order for teachers to successfully face the challenges of culturally diverse classrooms, teachers must adapt their competencies to the challenges that emerge in these diverse contexts, so that the students in their classes are stimulated to learn (Ladson-Billings,1995). Most research in the area of teaching in the Dutch culturally diverse school environments focuses on language and academic performance of students from different cultural backgrounds and especially at primary and general secondary education levels (e.g. De Haan & Elbers 2005; Hajer, 2003). Very few studies explore the influence of cultural diversity on teaching in the highly cultural diverse Dutch SSVET with a lot of challenges for teachers. In the present study, the challenges teachers encounter in teaching culturally diverse Dutch SSVET classrooms are investigated starting from the above mentioned dilemmas of Leeman (2006). Furthermore, relevant competencies (knowledge, skills, and attitude) to handle those challenges are explored. Our main research question is: what challenges do teachers report teaching culturally diverse SSVET classrooms and how do they cope with those challenges?
Data were collected at five SSVET-schools in large and medium-sized cities in The Netherlands, using a semi-structured interview. The schools in our sample all had a culturally-diverse student population, with over 60% students from a migration background. A total of 25 teachers participated in this study, who were selected because of their particular interested in the topic of teaching culturally-diverse classrooms. The semi-structured interview consisted of two parts. In the first part, questions were asked regarding teachers’ background and work e.g., “What is your age”, “Where were you born”, “Which subject do you teach”, “How many years are you working as a SSVET-teacher” and “Which other working experience do you have”. In the second part, questions were asked regarding challenges teachers encountered during their lessons in culturally-diverse SSVET classrooms and how they cope with those challenges e.g., “Which critical issues play a role in your classroom?”, “To what extent does the cultural background of the students play a role in the issues you mentioned?”, “How do you experience these issues and how did you tackle them?”. All interviews were recorded by means of voice recorders with the consent of the respondents. The interviews were transcribed ad verbum from the voice recorders. The interviews were analyzed both deductively and inductively. Deductively, in an iterative process of moving back and forth between the sensitizing concepts ‘contact between teacher and pupil’, ‘intercultural communication’, ‘justice’, ‘respect for school and teacher’, ‘democracy’, ‘personal autonomy’, and ‘diversity and communality’(Leeman, 2006). Furthermore, teachers’ 'knowledge’, ‘skills’ and ‘attitude’ were used as sub-categories. So for each of Leeman's dilemma's, it was coded whether the teacher reported deficient skills, knowledge, or attitudes. Inductively, statements were classified using principles of the grounded theory approach (Corbin & Strauss, 1994) with a specific focus on new dilemmas for the specific context of SSVET as overarching outcome. The transcripts were coded using Atlas Ti (version 7.5.6). After a first researcher coded two interviews, the interviews were coded by a second researcher. Afterwards, the two researchers discussed differences and came to agreement about the classifications of statements and the coding was adjusted to match the outcome of this discussion.
Preliminary results of this study show that the SSVET teachers report several of the above mentioned intercultural dilemmas of Leeman (2006). For example regarding ‘diversity and communality’: When teachers’ values are under pressure, it can make them feel uncomfortable and experience lack of skills to act, as one of the teachers explained: ”A student said: ”I don't like to have homosexual students in the classroom or a gay teacher”. They argued with each other, but it was not a pleasant atmosphere. He continued scolding and ran out of the class. I felt very very uncomfortable and thought:”We must do something about this and pay more attention to the fact that we accept homosexuality ̋“But I find it quite difficult (…)”. Regarding Leeman’s dilemma ‘personal autonomy’, teachers mention to prefer to work through dialogue and participation of all students. However, some students are not used to this way of interacting. Teachers seem to lack intercultural knowledge to understand intercultural differences in power distance, as the next quotation shows: “My native students could ask me:“Don’t say this or that to my parents when they come to school”. While, I still notice a certain distance to immigrant students who don’t approach me so easily. Also during meeting with parents, the native student more often is leading the conversation, and with the immigrant students, the conversation is often with parents. Very strange (…).” Additionally, the teachers mentioned dilemmas – other than Leemans’ – that are related specifically to the context of SSVET, such as dealing with the professional attitude of students during internships. The attitude of teachers and their views towards culturally diverse classrooms seems to affect the way they experience their classroom, built intercultural knowledge and skills. During the presentation the results will be discussed in detail and the final conclusions will be presented.
-Banks , J. A. , (2004). Diversity and citizenship education: Global perspectives. San Francisco : Jossey-Bass . -Ben-Peretz, M., B. Eilam, and E. Yankelevitch. 2006. Classroom management in multicultural classrooms in an immigrant country: The case of Israel. In Handbook of classroom management: Research, practice and contemporary issues. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. -CBS Statline (2017). MBO; deelnemers, opleidingsrichting in detail en sector, leerweg, niveau. Via Onderwijs in Cijfers (2017). Instroom in het middelbaar beroepsonderwijs. Via https://www.onderwijsincijfers.nl/kengetallen/mbo/deelnemers-mbo/instroom-in-het-mbo -Elffers, L. (2011). The transition to post-secondary vocational education: students’ entrance, experiences, and attainment Enschede: Ipskamp drukkers -Gay, G. (2002). Culturally responsive teaching: Theory, Research, and Practice. New York: Teachers College Press - Crul, M., Güngör, U. & Lelie, Z. (2016). Superdiverse schoolklassen: een nieuwe uitdaging voor docenten. In Fukkink, R. & Oostdam, R. (red) Onderwijs en opvoeding in een stedelijke context. Van startbekwaam naar stadsbekwaam. Bussum: Coutinho -Hajer, M. 2003. Kleurrijke gesprekken. Interactie in een multiculturele school. Utrecht: Hogeschool Utrecht. Faculteit Educatieve Opleidingen -Haan, M. de, & Elbers, E. (2005). Peer tutoring in a multiethnic classroom in The Netherlands: A multiperspective analysis of diversity. Comparative Education Revie49, no. 3: 365–88. -Ladson-Billings, G. (1995). Toward a theory of culturally relevant pedagogy. Amercian Educational Research Journal, 32(3), 465-491 -Ladson-Billings, G. (2003). New directions in multicultural education: Complexities boundaries and critical race theory. In Handbook of research on multicultural education, ed. J.A. Banks and C.A. McGee Banks. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. -Leeman, Y. (2006) Teaching in ethnically diverse schools: teachers' professionalism, European Journal of Teacher Education, 29:3, 341-356, DOI: 10.1080/02619760600795171. -Severiens, S., Wolff, R. & Herpen, S. van (2014). Teaching for diversity: A literature overview and an analysis of the curriculum of a teacher training college. European Journal of Teacher Education, 37(3), 295-311. DOI: 10.1080/02619768.2013.845166 -Strauss, A. & Corbin, J. (1994). "Grounded Theory Methodology." In NK Denzin & YS Lincoln (Eds.) Handbook of Qualitative Research (pp. 217-285). Thousand Oaks, Sage Publications. -Wubbels, T., Den Brok, P., Veldman, I., & Van Tartwijk, J. (2006). Teacher interpersonal competence for Dutch secondary multicultural classrooms. Teachers and Teaching, 12(4), 407-433. DOI: 10.1080/13450600600644269
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