Investigating Ideological Clarity in Teacher Education

Jul. 28, 2010

Source: The Teacher Educator, Volume 45, Issue 3, pages 153 – 178. (July 2010).
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

Set in a graduate-level multicultural literacy course, this qualitative study draws on Bakhtin’s theories of ideological becoming and a hybrid of critical discourse analysis (CDA) methods (Gee, 1996; Fairclough, 1995; 2003) to explore the complexities of learning to teach culturally and linguistically diverse students.

Purpose of Study

In this study the authors investigated how beginning teachers’ ideologies were constructed and reconstructed by closely examining teachers’ discourse expressed in one graduate multicultural literacy course.

The authors organized the study around the question: ‘‘What tensions and struggles did beginning teachers express in response to a course dedicated to multicultural literacy education?’’

Context and Participants
This study took place over one semester at a large university in a southwestern city in the United States. Participants were enrolled in a post-baccalaureate, teacher preparation program that serves working adults who want to be certified elementary teachers.

Eight beginning teachers, with a range of teaching experiences participated in this study.
The majority of the participants were White women who have taught in diverse school settings.


This research adds to the literature about how beginning teachers might better address cultural and linguistic diversity in literacy instruction. Whereas most studies survey teachers’ beliefs about multicultural education, this study emphasized the role of language and social interactions and highlighted the ways in which beginning teachers struggled with dominate discourses about culture and literacy instruction.

When considering themselves as cultural beings, the teachers in this study
(a) struggled with their own cultural backgrounds and biases,
(b) grappled with how cultural backgrounds can contribute to privilege and inequity, and
(c) expressed a great deal of tension about colorblindness based on their own personal fears and past experiences.

By the end of the course, the teachers (a) were more open to exploring cultural differences,
(b) interrogated how racism and prejudice might influence their (and others’) perspectives,
(c) questioned the unproductive notions of colorblindness to shield individual differences, and
(d) sought to apply an understanding of culture to instruction.

The tensions, which were described in the study, illustrated the importance of culturally conscious instruction, the need for asset-based teaching, and the power of teaching.

Fairclough, N. (1995). Critical discourse analysis: The critical study of language.
London: Longman.

Fairclough, N. (2003). Analyzing discourse: Textual analysis for social research.
London: Routledge.

Gee, J. P. (1996). Social linguistics and literacies. Ideology in discourses (2nd ed.).
London: Falmer.

Updated: Oct. 29, 2010