Multicultural education researchers and educators agree that preservice teachers' attitudes, beliefs, and understandings are important: foci in multicultural education coursework (Cochran-Smith, 1995; Grant & Secada, 1990; McDiarmid & Price, 1993; Pohan, 1996). Teacher attitudes and beliefs influence teaching behaviors, which affect student learning and behavior (Wiest, 1998)."
1996 study used 492 pre-service teachers to try and gauge the attitudes and beliefs among the group when it came to understanding diversity and cultural differences in students (Wiest, 1998).
A decade earlier leading education experts Hollingsworth was able to identify a method for helping students of teaching to challenge their convictions and apply them to their careers.
Many advocates of multicultural education suggest that field experiences be included in preparing teachers to work with diverse student populations (Pohan, 1996; Sleeter, 1995; Tellez, Hlebowitsh, Cohen, & Norwood, 1995). Sleeter (1995) describes some investigations, such as miniethnographies, that her students conduct: I regard extended contact with another group on its own 'turf' as essential in the education of White teachers (Wiest, 1998). In my own life, this has certainly been the case. In the courses I teach, prior to community-based field experiences students tend to comprehend material at an intellectual level only, and their discussions are often rather sterile. After spending some time in a community setting dominated by another sociocultural group, students begin to confront their own fears, misconceptions, and ignorance (Wiest, 1998)."
This project provided a sociocultural project to student teachers.
The students attended the University of Nevada. Each student was expected to spend an hour in another culture and learn about that culture.
The purpose of the assignment is to help students gain knowledge about another culture and insight into how it feels to be a member of a minority culture, one with subordinate status in society (Bennett, 1995). Students participate in an unfamiliar culture for a minimum of 1 hour and then speculate how what they have learned might apply to classroom teaching (Wiest, 1998)."
The data for the study was gathered through the write ups that the students were required to turn in regarding their cultural immersion experience.
There were 86 papers turned in and a constant-comparative technique was used for the data analysis (Wiest, 1998).
Using this method allowed various categories to emerge in a natural course of progression.
The following categories recurred during the analysis which gives strength to their importance in the study assignment (Wiest, 1998).
New Information About Specific Cultures
The teachers agreed that having information about other cultures gave them a more relaxed attitude about the cultural differences that they would encounter in the classroom. This will benefit the students as the teachers will be less inclined to prejudge based on a student's culture or skin color (Wiest, 1998).
Challenged Beliefs and Understandings
This was an important emerging category according to the study as it provides the teachers with an opportunity to challenge what they may have believed about a specific culture. This is important to the attitudes and beliefs of teachers as it helps to erase the preconceived notions that the teachers may have had before the study was conducted (Wiest, 1998).
Enhanced Personal and Professional Skills
Enhancing personal and professional goals may be a self serving by product of the study but it can also be viewed as a positive aspect of the study results. Regardless of why the student teachers want to develop better and more positive attitudes the end result is that they did develop more positive attitudes and beliefs which will benefit the students that they encounter in the classrooms (Wiest, 1998).
Students were initially very uncomfortable and displeased with the project, the first assignment of the semester (Wiest, 1998). Prior to and during the experience, many students reported a variety of anxieties including nausea. Afterwards, they overwhelmingly endorsed the project as a valuable and memorable experience, for many the most important course assignment (Wiest, 1998). One said, This experience is an excellent mean[s] for understanding the feelings of a minority culture (Wiest, 1998). My biases and prejudices were erased, despite my uncomfortableness in the situation (Wiest, 1998). Not only did I experience what it means to be a minority in another culture, but I also came to understand that culture better (Wiest, 1998)."
There were obstacles and limitations of the study. One limitation was when several students chose cultures that were not very different from what they were used to. This created a weaker change in attitude and did not create a strength in confidence when "Furthermore, some made little effort to immerse themselves in the activity. One student reported sitting at the bar in a gay night club drinking beer, interacting with no one during his visit, and feeling that some gay men stared at and made fun of him. His apparent resistance to the situation, gleaned from his other comments, and his lack of attempts to communicate with anyone might have influenced others' behavior or his interpretation of it (Wiest, 1998). "
The study is a foundational step in understanding the importance of teacher attitudes and beliefs as they impact the students that they teach as well as their own professional advancement.
A project such as this only scratches the surface of needed multicultural learning. More extended, in-depth, and comprehensive experiences, such as those Sleeter (1995) and Tellez et al. (1995) propose, are paramount. Whatever the duration and frequency of experiences aimed at increasing students' cultural knowledge and sensitivity, these experiences should include study of subject matter both from an intellectual standpoint and personal immersion with the whole of oneself (Wiest, 1998)."
The below chart illustrates why there may be a problem with attitudes and beliefs of teachers when it comes to expectations of low income or ethnic students. As the chart indicates there are very few ethnic students in the nation's school system.
Hispanic White Black Asian Native http://www.sedl.org/scimath/compass/03-2002/images/ar.gif
The above chart helps to provide an explanation about teachers attitudes and beliefs when it comes to their expectations of ethnic students as a whole.
In the same way that diversity is a growing element of today's educational elements technology has become a key player in the classroom.
A teacher's attitude about technology in the classroom can have a significant impact on the method and frequency that technology is used for instruction. This is an important element to study because if a teacher has a poor attitude about technology that will have a negative impact on the decisions the teacher makes with regard to instruction and the students that come under that teacher's guidance will be deprived of current technological abilities within the classroom and possibly in the future.
A group of teacher educators researched their implementation of technology while trying to remain consonant with their philosophical frameworks (Hausfather, 2002). Four themes cut across the collected narratives (Hausfather, 2002). Commitment toward change describes the background attitudes and beliefs that propelled them to explore changes to their practice. Obstacles to using technology involved challenges in the teaching and learning environments (Hausfather, 2002). Struggles in using technology within instructional contexts highlights shared pedagogical concerns. Finally, attitudes toward technology use, outlines shifting understandings and their effect on their attitudes as teacher educators (Hausfather, 2002). "
Once the study was concluded there were three important factors that were identified.
A match between the use of technology and the goals of instruction was necessary (Hausfather, 2002).
Technology tended to make tasks more complicated, limiting the ability to incorporate technology into teaching (Hausfather, 2002).
Perhaps more important than the exploration of technology as an instructional tool, however, was the insight gained into their own philosophies of teaching and learning through participation in the narrative of collaboration, and the ability to submit self-narratives for discussion by groups of colleagues (Hausfather, 2002). "
One case study involved four teachers that came together with the instruction to incorporate more technology into their instruction decisions and practices.
One strength of the task and the final research about the success of the task was the fact that they worked together and believed that a collaborative effort would garner a more productive and successful end result.
One strength of the group was the fact that one of the teachers was an educational technologist who was completely comfortable with the requirement to incorporate multimedia into class and coursework.
Of course, they all realized the ever-growing role of technology in teacher education. The need for incorporating existing…