A Case Study of Multicultural Infusion across a Teacher Preparation Program in Secondary Education Open Access
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This qualitative case study examined how faculty of a U.S. teacher preparation program in secondary education infused multicultural education across a program in preparing teacher candidates (TCs) to teach diverse student populations, and how TCs responded to this preparation. Conducted from a constructivist perspective, this study involved interviews with 9 faculty and 11 students, observation of 160 students across 7 of the 9 required program courses, and analyses of program documents and completed student assignments. Data were analyzed using Cochran-Smith et al.'s (2004) Understanding the Multiple Meanings of Multicultural Teacher Preparation, Gay's (1997) A Dual Approach to Multicultural Infusion in Teacher Education, and Melnick and Zeichner's (1995, 1998) Educating Teachers for Cultural Diversity. Findings were organized around key themes that emerged throughout the study.This study found that faculty infused multicultural education across WU's teacher preparation program and that this infusion process was met with key challenges, as evidenced through the program's vision, program practices, and participant reflections. More specifically, this study found that faculty infused multicultural education across the program by 1) establishing a vision in support of diversity and multicultural education, 2) creating caring learning contexts, 3) fostering TC examination of societal and personal diversity and prejudice, 4) preparing TCs to help diverse student populations access academic content, and 5) cultivating TCs' connections between coursework and student teaching. Some key challenges to this infusion process that surfaced in the study included 1) discrepancies across participant perspectives in regards to achieving multicultural program infusion, 2) a disconnect between the IME course and teacher preparation program courses, and 3) tensions introduced with a state-mandated standardized teaching assessment.The above findings have implications for teacher preparation practice and research, as well as political implications. This study recommends that teacher preparation programs establish a vision for the infusion of multicultural education; create caring learning contexts where TCs feel comfortable engaging in the sensitive process of multicultural growth; guide TCs in constructing coherent lesson plans that are accessible to all learners; and anchor TCs in learning communities that support their transfer of course theory to teaching practice. These learning communities should include partnering with K-12 schools in diverse contexts to support TCs in learning to teach diverse student populations. This study further recommends that TCs and teacher preparation faculty be supported to reflect on personal prejudice and institutional inequity. Though hesitation to engage in such reflection may be anticipated, it should be an objective for faculty to normalize such discussions, particularly as not doing so allows dominant discourses to continue silencing others (Gay, 2010; Nieto, 2001). This study further recommends that professional development opportunities led by IME course instructors should be created to support faculty in surfacing personal prejudices to care for diverse student populations more effectively (Pang, 2005), and to attempt to understand the complexities behind institutional inequity on a deeper level (Castro, 2010). Moreover, teacher preparation program administrators need to provide time, opportunities, and incentives for greater communication and collaboration across IME course instructors and other teacher preparation faculty in order to extend and build upon the principles and practices in these courses. Finally, administrators and teacher educators need to evaluate state-mandated standardized teaching assessments for ways in which they support or hinder previously established NCATE, state, and program objectives, particularly those aligned with multicultural orientations and objectives. Such evaluation should consider how to support faculty in instructing TCs to complete state-mandated standardized assessments without eliminating significant curricula from their course syllabi. Finally, NCATE and state policymakers should also contribute to an examination of if and how such assessments align with NCATE, state, and program goals.