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The Influence of Multicultural Educational Practices on Student Outcomes and Intergroup Relations


by Sabrina Zirkel — 2008

Background: How best to serve a racially and ethnically diverse student body has been a topic of intensive theory development for the past 30 or 40 years. We have strong theoretical models regarding the need for and practice of multicultural education, the goals of which include both increased educational achievement for students of color and improved intergroup relations. Nevertheless, there are few places where one can find a broad examination of the empirical support for the influence of multicultural educational practice on either student outcomes or intergroup relations.

Purpose: In this article, I use James A. Banks’s widely used conceptualization of the five components of multicultural educational practice—content integration, knowledge construction, prejudice reduction, equity pedagogies, and empowering school cultures—to examine the empirical evidence for the influence of each of these five different components on the academic outcomes of students of color and intergroup relations in schools.

Conclusions: The empirical research reveals that all five components of multicultural educational practice outlined by Banks to have a strong, positive impact on the educational outcomes of students of color and to improved intergroup relations, although research has been stronger in some areas (e.g., prejudice reduction and some equity pedagogies such as cooperative learning) than others (e.g., the specific effects of content integration and knowledge construction). The evidence suggests several additional conclusions: (1) Multicultural educational practice has benefit for the academic outcomes of all students, not just students of color. (2) Multicultural educational practice is most effective when implemented with careful attention to issues of race and power. (3) The academic and intergroup relations outcomes are linked, in that efforts designed to improve one improve the other. Implications for future research on the effects of multicultural educational practice on students, as well as teacher and administrator education programs, are discussed.



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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 110 Number 6, 2008, p. 1147-1181
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 14711, Date Accessed: 12/17/2017 1:26:16 AM

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About the Author
  • Sabrina Zirkel
    Mills College
    E-mail Author
    SABRINA ZIRKEL is a visiting professor in the Educational Leadership program in the School of Education at Mills College in Oakland, California. Her research interests concern creating more effective multiethnic school environments and how treatment of race and ethnicity in schools influences student achievement. Recent publications include “50 Years After Brown v. Board of Education: Ongoing Issues of Racial and Ethnic Stigma in Education” published in The Urban Review and, as editor, a volume of the Journal of Social Issues in 2004 entitled “50 Years after Brown v. Board: Interethnic Contact and Change in Education in the 21st Century.”
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