Supporting Teachers' Development of Cultural Competence Through Teacher Research

Winter, 2010

Source: Action in Teacher Education, V. 32, no. 4, (Winter, 2010), p. 26-37.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

In this paper, the authors describe how teachers, who enrolled in an advanced master's degree program, expanded their understanding of multicultural education through teacher research.

The authors address to the following question: In what ways does 'a graduate-level course with a dual emphasis on culture and inquiry through teacher research affect how in-service teachers conceptualize culture in their educational settings?

Data were collected through four principle sources:
(a) online and in-class reflections;
(b) in-class discussions;
(c) action research studies with accompanying final reflections, and
(d) researcher memos. 

The participants were 34 teachers, of whom 31 were female and 3 were male.
The teachers represented five races/ethnicities: 30 Caucasian, one Asian, one European,
one Hispanic, and one Middle Eastern.
The teachers ranged in experience from 1 to 20+ years in public and private school settings, from preschool through community college.

Findings and Discussion

Each teacher developed topics for exploration that were unique to their professional contexts and chose and developed research topics with support from both colleagues and the instructors.

The authors identified three main themes that emerged as significant from the data.
1. The authors observed that the teachers participating in this course used course readings, discussions, and their teacher research study to explore their understandings of culture through the semester.
2. The authors found that the process of conducting research was a powerful tool for teachers' cultural understandings.
3. Finally, the authors found that some teachers were resistant to concepts related to multiculturalism and diversity.


The authors found that when most teachers had the opportunity to consider a broad view of culture and then apply it to their professional contexts, their understandings of teaching and learning in the classroom was enhanced.

Updated: Aug. 28, 2012