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Multicultural teacher preparation: Experiences that affect the perceptions and behaviors of teachers in their ability to embrace diversity

Maxine Joyce Headley-Howell, University of Massachusetts Amherst


The purpose of this study was to (1) investigate teachers' perceptions of their own ability to embrace diversity, and (2) to explore how their personal, professional and academic preparation influenced their perceptions. Three research questions guided this study: (1) What type of personal and professional experiences affect the perceptions and behaviors of practicing teachers toward embracing diversity? (2) How do practicing teachers perceive that their teacher preparation program has prepared them to teach from a multicultural perspective? (3) What recommendations do practicing teachers have for enhancing the preparation of teachers to educate a diverse population? This study consists of four components: (1) a pilot study of three in-depth phenomenological interviews each with two participants that served as a basis for the current study. (2) one additional study of a novice teacher, using three classrooms observations and three in-depth phenomenological interviews. (3) a qualitative questionnaire, used with practicing teachers who had recently graduated from a teacher preparation program, designed to determine if there was a need for investigation into the research questions. (4) a quantitative questionnaire, used with beginning teachers, which examined how they felt they were prepared to teach a diverse student body. The findings reveal that graduates from one teacher preparation program feel that they were exposed to little or no multicultural education in their course work, and had been inadequately prepared to teach a diverse population. Many of the graduates are employed in school districts which incorporate superficial approaches to multicultural education. Teachers expressed a desire to become a part of a network where they could learn how to incorporate multicultural education into the curriculum. It seemed that what prepared teachers best to work with diverse populations was actually living in the community among diverse people; it was there that people started to understand issues, events and people from a variety of perspectives.* ftn*Originally published in DAI Vol. 58, No. 9. Reprinted here with corrected title.

Subject Area

Teacher education|Bilingual education|Multicultural education

Recommended Citation

Headley-Howell, Maxine Joyce, "Multicultural teacher preparation: Experiences that affect the perceptions and behaviors of teachers in their ability to embrace diversity" (1997). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9809344.