Date of Award

1-1-2012

Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Department

Educational Studies

Sub-Department

Educational Psychology / Research

First Advisor

Kellah Edens

Second Advisor

Michelle Jay

Abstract

Intercultural sensitivity as a teacher disposition and desirable criteria is particularly relevant to our training of preservice teachers for whom it is necessary to teach students equally well across diverse backgrounds. Participants of the study included seventy-eight students (76 females and 2 males) and five instructors of a course on culturally relevant pedagogy. The students were from an early childhood preservice teacher cohort at a southern predominantly White college of education. The goal of the course was "to assist preservice teachers to develop proficiency using culturally relevant pedagogy for culturally and linguistically diverse students." Empirical data and qualitative findings from this study suggest that a culturally relevant pedagogy course is viable as an intervention for developing intercultural sensitivity in early childhood preservice teachers.

This mixed methods study used scores on Hammer and Bennett's (2001) Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI), an empirically valid measure of intercultural sensitivity, as the source of quantitative data. The Cultural Autobiography/Memoir (CAM) assignment served as the source of qualitative data. The results of the one-way ANOVA validated anecdotal evidence that preservice teachers at this college of education, at this level of study, lack intercultural sensitivity. A paired samples t-test showed the statistical significance of the difference in pre- and posttest IDI mean scores for the student cohort as a whole. Further examination revealed statistically significant differences between pre- and posttest IDI means scores for two of the five sections of the course.

The qualitative data captured in writing students' knowledge of historical and social subject matter and empathy (or lack thereof) towards cultural difference. The self-assessment nature of the CAM assignment also revealed the extent to which students constructed tentative explanations of past intercultural interactions, both positive and negative, as related to the course content. Lastly, the narratives also served as a space in which students predicted future behavior regarding intercultural interactions with students they will teach.

The results suggest that a culturally relevant pedagogy course, under particular circumstances, had an effect on the students' intercultural sensitivity. Because the study demonstrates that early childhood preservice teachers may develop this disposition relevant to teaching students equally well across diverse backgrounds, there is support for maintaining such a course as a necessary component for all preservice teacher education.

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