Teachers’ Collaborative Conversations About Culture: Negotiating Decision Making in Intercultural Teaching

Jun. 21, 2010

Source: Journal of Teacher Education, 61(3), p. 271–286.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

In this article, the authors present a study that investigated intercultural teaching through teachers’ collaborative conversations about critical intercultural incidents in schools.

The authors focused on the following research question: What can we learn about teachers’ decision making in intercultural teaching through online conversations about critical intercultural incidents in schools?


The research was conducted in Winnipeg, Manitoba, in Canada. Three schools in the Winnipeg area served as sites for the study, with one school from each of three school districts, each at a different level (early, middle, senior years). The schools were selected from the pool of practicum schools because of their diverse student populations. All participating expert teachers were employed at the schools. 


The authors chose two preservice and two expert teachers per school.
The six preservice teachers were White, native English speakers, which reflects the majority of students in the program and in the teaching force.

All collaborating teachers were White: one male and five female.
Five education professors and one graduate research assistant (GRA) participated as university teachers in the Web-based conversations. Of the six, five were men and one was a woman; four were White, one Metis, and one a Filipino Canadian.

Each preservice teacher was partnered with an expert collaborating teacher and teacher educator to form a research unit. The two research units at each school were partnered with a graduate research assistant to form a research pod.

The data were generated through Web-CT and face-to-face dialogues between preservice, inservice, and university teachers about critical intercultural incidents identified by the preservice candidates during practicum experiences.


Findings focus on teachers’ intercultural decision making. The findings were organized into two subgroups:
(a) decisions that tend to involve reflecting (minding) through attention, reflection, awareness, and critical thinking; and
(b) decisions that involve responding processes as empathy, compassion, action, and the willingness and ability to respond and to assume responsibility.

The result is the beginning of an integrated model or framework for intercultural teaching with strong efficacy or bases in the lived experiences of intercultural teachers and schools.


The model recognizes that teaching is at heart an art, not a science, and that effective teaching involves creativity and the ability to respond to the lived experience and context of distinctive learners, classrooms, and communities.

Furthermore, the model and critical intercultural incidents together offer an effective framework for designing an integrated intercultural course with a parallel and integrated intercultural field experience component aimed at scaffolding new teachers into the art of intercultural teaching.

Updated: Jul. 20, 2010