07 SES 13 A, Parents', Teachers' and Students' Views on Diversity
Germany has a long history of immigration. From adjusting to the permanent settlement of former guest workers to facing the challenge of accommodating refugee newcomers, Germany has taken several steps to acknowledge itself as an immigration country (Faas, 2016). Yet, German schools tend to stress similarities and assimilation of cultural diversity, often limiting intercultural education to celebrate special events, religious holidays, and ethnic food (Civitillo et al., 2017). Such approaches to cultural diversity in education are insufficient to promote equity and sustain cultural pluralism (Portera, 2008). To provide a rich account of the type of approach schools adopt to deal with cultural diversity, the present multiple case study examines how cultural diversity is expressed at classroom level within a large school located in Germany.
As crucial stakeholders in education, teachers make personal and pedagogical sense of how cultural diversity should be incorporated into daily classroom activities. Accordingly, the role of teacher beliefs is crucial to explain the complexity of teacher instructional behaviours (Fives & Buehl, 2012). Beliefs are seen as individual cognitive conceptions in constant relation to behaviour and external environment (Bandura, 1997). Bidirectional relationships exist between personal beliefs, behaviour, and the external environment (e.g., school and classroom characteristics), but their influence and reciprocal effects vary for different activities and under different circumstances. This points to investigating teachers’ personal beliefs and how they are related to teaching increasingly diverse students, accounting for classroom and school characteristics.
The inclusive framework of Culturally Responsive Teaching (CRT; Gay, 2010) provides insights into addressing the needs of culturally diverse student populations. The CRT is a multidimensional construct, and encompasses curriculum content, learning context, classroom climate, instructional techniques, and performance assessment. CRT is not only a set of teaching strategies but it requires teachers holding beliefs that consider cultural diversity as a positive attribute and valuable resource in teaching and learning (Gay, 2010). Thus, the first aim of the present study was to assess the relation between teacher beliefs about cultural diversity and culturally responsive teaching.
An important factor that may elucidate the dialectic between teachers’ beliefs and practices is the ability of critical self-reflection (Thompson, 1992). Teachers who do not engage in self-reflection are less likely to question their practices and change their beliefs about teaching. In addition, CRT is based on the premise that teachers should be self-conscious, critical and analytical of their own beliefs about cultural diversity as well as own teaching behaviours (Gay, 2010). To this end, the second aim of the current study was to investigate teachers’ self-reflection skills by encouraging participants’ reflection on own teaching practices.
Research on culturally responsive teaching has grown in the last decade, showing how CRT improves educational opportunities and outcomes for culturally diverse students (Aronson & Laughter, 2016). However, there are some important limitations in the present body of knowledge that the current study aims at reducing. The majority of studies examining beliefs about cultural diversity and practices focused on pre-service teachers. Although unsurprisingly given the origin of the field is deeply rooted in the USA, empirical findings draw mostly from White-American teachers and how they deal with African-American, Asian-American, Latino, and Native American students (Byrd, 2016). In this study, we explored beliefs and practices of in-service German teachers with their classrooms of first and second generation of immigrant students, including refugees, from different cultural and ethnic background. Finally, the present study is further distinguished by examining culturally responsive teaching by a validated classroom protocol first and then exploring teacher beliefs about cultural diversity, with the opportunity for participants to critically reflect on their classroom practices.
The present investigation adopted a multiple case study approach (Yin, 2013) as four teachers who worked in the same school were examined and compared. A case study methodology is particularly suitable for the investigation of teachers’ beliefs and practices as they manifest in the natural setting of the classroom (Olafson, Grandy, & Owens, 2015). Specifically, this case study was conducted over a short, intensive period of time, offering a cross-sectional view of four teachers and their respective classrooms. A modified version of the Culturally Responsive Instruction Observation Protocol (CRIOP; Powell et al., 2014) was used for measuring teachers’ use of culturally responsive teaching. The CRIOP contains five dimensions: classroom relationships, assessment practices, instructional practices, thoughtful discourse, and sociopolitical consciousness, rated on a 4-point scale (1 = Not at all, 2 = Occasionally, 3 = Often, 4 = To a great extent). Three classroom observations for each teacher were analyzed by rating each dimension of CRIOP. The choice of carrying three observations derives from the assumption that CRT can be understood as content-independent (Gay, 2010), and thus, to vary only to a little extent between lesson units of a specific teacher. A post-observation interview was conducted using a think-aloud procedure in which participants were asked to verbalise their thoughts while they viewed five selected sequences of the video observations. For analysing participants’ self-reflection responses, we coded answers using three self-reflection categories (description, explanation, and integration) identified previously in the literature (e.g., Blomberg et al., 2014). These three categories vary in terms of depth and elaboration of self-reflection ability. Additionally, open-ended questions aiming at exploring participants’ beliefs about cultural diversity in education constituted a further source of data. Three questions were asked: ‘How do you see cultural diversity in classroom?’ ‘How can you incorporate cultural diversity in your teaching?’ ‘Could you provide some examples of teaching methods you have used in the past or currently use to incorporate cultural diversity into your teaching?’. Answers to open-ended questions related to cultural diversity beliefs were analyzed using a thematic analysis with a theoretical top-down approach. Interrater agreement was established for both classroom observations and post-observation interviews.
Our findings suggest that although the four teachers worked in the same schools and shared some work-related characteristics (e.g., school ethnic composition, school principal), degree of cultural responsiveness and teachers’ beliefs differed amongst them. Furthermore, the results indicate a high degree of congruence between beliefs and practices. Specifically, teachers who endorsed beliefs about cultural diversity multicultural oriented (i.e., recognition of, and support for, culturally diverse groups) were rated high in the CRIOP across the three lesson units observed. In contrast, teachers who expressed beliefs in line with a colorblindness perspective (i.e., denying the cultural capital that students bring into the learning environment) were rated low in the CRIOP. Although no previous study of which we are aware has examined the association between cultural diversity beliefs and culturally responsive teaching using the CRIOP, our findings are quite consistent with the pattern shown in prior literature (e.g., Hachfeld et al., 2015; van Middelkoop, Ballafkih, & Meerman, 2017). Regarding self-reflection skills, all four teachers showed experienced patterns of self-reflection, notably the most frequent category coded across participants’ responses was exploration. However, teachers with high scores in the CRIOP reported higher self-reflection (low in description, high in integration), whereas teachers with low scores in the CRIOP were less able to critically reflect about their own strategies (high in description, low in integration). This study presents practical implications. For the rapid increase of cultural diversity in the European context, teacher trainings should target and challenge pre-service teachers’ beliefs to assure equitable education to culturally diverse students. Educational researchers should more frequently use video observations to document the reciprocal relationships between beliefs, teaching behaviours, and classroom context. Finally, given the crucial role of self-reflection skills for CRT, continuous efforts should be directed to offer teachers concrete possibilities to critically reflect on own teaching behaviours.
Aronson, B., & Laughter, J. (2016). The theory and practice of culturally relevant education: A synthesis of research across content areas. Review of Educational Research, 86, 237-276. Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efﬁcacy: The exercise of control. New York, NY: Freeman. Blomberg, G., Sherin, M. G., Renkl, A., Glogger, I., & Seidel, T. (2014). Understanding video as a tool for teacher education: Investigating instructional strategies to promote reflection. Instructional Science, 42, 443-463. Byrd, C. M. (2016). Does culturally relevant teaching work? An examination from student perspectives. SAGE Open, 6, 1-10. Civitillo, S., Schachner, M., Juang, L., van de Vijver, F. J., Handrick, A., & Noack, P. (2017). Towards a better understanding of cultural diversity approaches at school: A multi-informant and mixed-methods study. Learning, Culture and Social Interaction, 12, 1-14. Faas, D. (2016). Negotiating political identities: Multiethnic schools and youth in Europe. Abingdon, UK: Routledge. Fives, H., & Buehl, M. M. (2012). Spring cleaning for the “messy” construct of teachers’ beliefs: What are they? Which have been examined? What can they tell us. In K.R. Harris, S. Graham, & T. Urdan, (Eds.), APA Educational psychology handbook (pp. 471-499). Washington, DC: APA. Gay, G. (2010). Culturally responsive teaching: Theory, research, and practice. New York, NY: Teachers College Press. Hachfeld, A., Hahn, A., Schroeder, S., Anders, Y., & Kunter, M. (2015). Should teachers be colorblind? How multicultural and egalitarian beliefs differentially relate to aspects of teachers’ professional competence for teaching in diverse classrooms? Teaching and Teacher Education, 48, 44-55. Olafson, L., Grandy, C., & Owens, M. (2015). Qualitative approaches to studying teachers’ beliefs. In H. Fives, & M.G. Gill (Eds.), International handbook of research on teachers’ beliefs (pp. 128-149). New York, NY: Routledge. Portera, A. (2008). Intercultural education in Europe: Epistemological and semantic aspects. Intercultural Education, 19, 481-491. Powell, R., Cantrell, S. C., Correll, P. K., & Malo-Juvera, V. (2014). Culturally responsive instruction observation protocol (3rd ed.). Lexington, KY: Collaborative Center for Literacy Development. Thompson, A. (1992). Teachers’ beliefs and conceptions. In D. Grouws (Ed.), Handbook of research on mathematics teaching and learning (pp. 127-146). New York, NY: Macmillan. van Middelkoop, D., Ballafkih, H., & Meerman, M. (2017). Understanding diversity: A Dutch case study on teachers’ attitudes towards their diverse student population. Empirical Research in Vocational Education and Training, 9, 1-19. Yin, R. K. (2013). Case study research: Design and methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
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