Preservice teachers' attitudes toward their preparedness to teach culturally diverse student populations

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University of Alabama Libraries

The United States is a nation of many diverse cultures. Recent demographics suggest that public school enrollment has increased 73% over the past two decades for both secondary and elementary schools. By the year 2020, minority students will comprise 44% of the public school enrollment (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2008). The public school is faced with an increased enrollment of students from diverse social, cultural, political, and economic groups. This change in demographics within the nation suggests that many preservice teachers in the K-12 setting will be teaching students from cultural backgrounds that differ from their own. The decrease in academic achievement among minority students and the overall poor academic performance of secondary students have forced the country to address the challenges of education and how to educate our nation's children (Berresford, 2008). A critical issue challenging the field of education is the preparation of preservice teachers for multicultural, multiethnic settings. Research studies have shown that many preservice teachers enter the field of teaching lacking the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to effectively instruct culturally diverse students (Gay, 2000). This study examines the attitudes of student teachers completing their student teaching experience and how they perceive their ability to teach culturally diverse student populations. Two four-year institutions located within the northern region of Alabama were selected for the study. The methodology for the study included both quantitative and qualitative data. A survey was collected to evaluate the attitudes of student teachers on their ability to teach culturally diverse student populations. Analysis of the quantitative data did not show any statistical gains in student attitudes toward their preparedness to teach culturally diverse student populations. An interview was conducted with the participants and transcribed for emerging themes to support the questions guiding the research study. All of the participants indicated the need for teacher education programs to initiate changes that would provide opportunities for preservice teachers to enhance their multicultural skills and knowledge.

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Secondary education