Evidence of Cultural Competence Within Teacher Performance Assessments

Aug. 01, 2012

Source: Action in Teacher Education, Vol. 34, No. 3, p. 262-215, 2012.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This study explored how preservice teachers demonstrate evidence of cultural competence in the work sample.
The research examined the TWS to answer the question:
How do preservice teachers address diversity within the TWS in ways that demonstrate cultural competence?

Using the Teacher Work Sample (TWS), a plan for instruction serving as a teacher performance assessment, the research examines the document for evidence of cultural competence. Student descriptions, reflections, and lesson plans provide evidence of preservice teacher dispositions and attitudes toward diverse students.

The objective of this study was to gain greater insight into the ways preservice teachers address diversity in the practicum experience through the writing of the TWS.
The research employed content analysis with the results providing a framework for assessing TWSs on a continuum of cultural competence, and an examination of themes found within the TWS.
The participants were preservice teachers in Oregon produce a TWS that includes unit goals and objectives, assessments, lesson plans, analyses of student learning, descriptions of students and the community, and daily reflections.


Twenty TWSs ultimately fell into four distinct categories designated as static, reactive, active, and proactive.

The static category was named as such due to the data revealing that TWSs in that classification contained student descriptions with no information about students other than clinical or statistical data.
Reflections for lessons and the unit consisted, to a large extent, of a focus on negative student behaviors such as students not paying attention, students extending little effort, off-task or disruptive behavior, and excessive absences.
Unquestionably, the reflections in this group also acknowledged positive student gains, and the preservice teachers noted where they needed improvement, but these work samples left no question as to preservice teachers' belief that the loci of all problems lay squarely with the student and his or her response to the instruction.

The term reactive denotes those TWSs that react to issues of diversity, but at a simplistic or superficial level.
Like those in the static category, the student descriptions in the reactive TWSs remained objective and centered on the academic and bebavioral rather than denoting any personal information about the student.
Community descriptions revealed an awareness or recognition of cultural difference and usually revolved around poverty rather than ethnicity.

Comments within these TWSs changed subtly, moving from blame on the student to blame on the environment from which the student came.
The preservice teachers writing these TWSs demonstrated awareness of students within the class who had either an IEP or an ELL designation and spoke to a desire to increase the motivation within these students to achieve at a higher level.

TWSs in the active category contained descriptions and comments indicating dynamic interaction with sociological factors that informed planning and teaching.
Preservice teachers wrote complete student descriptions that displayed no fear in naming culture or ethnicity.

The reflections in active TWSs, like those in the other groups, made clear the preservice teachers' enthusiasm over student gains in achievement.
Additionally, this group articulated a desire to improve classroom management, and mentioned retrospectively what might have produced better behavior.
Preservice teachers made comments in the reflections that indicated an embodied responsibility to and for students with a focus on changes to instruction when necessary.
No blame or excuses appeared in reflections, and the preservice teachers in this group consistently presented plans for remediation and or inclusion.

The proactive category, named for its forward-thinking elements, represents the ideal in TWS methodology.
TWSs in this group mentioned students' failures to meet objectives and the preservice teachers made plans for remediation.
The preservice teachers in this group were much more likely to find deficiencies or limitations in themselves rather than in the students.
In proactive TWSs, preservice teachers set themselves apart from their colleagues by identifying students who would need differentiation and then planned for individual learners as well as for whole-class instruction.


The author concludes that this study found heavy evidence of recognition and response within the reactive, active, and proactive TWSs; however, teacher educators must take care to use multiple ways to measure the cultural competence of preservice teachers, and we need more research in this area.

Updated: Oct. 06, 2014