Changing Students, Changing Teaching
by Susan S. Stodolsky & Pamela L. Grossman — 2000
Educators are searching for effective ways to meet the challenges posed by increased cultural diversity among students. We explore this issue at the high school level where concerns about subject matter and student diversity intersect sharply. A case study approach, augmented by a large sample survey is used to understand the dynamics of adaptation to a changing student population. We document adaptations in curriculum, instruction, and assessment made by math and English teachers. We examine the goals, conceptions of subject matter, instructional practices and views of learning of teachers who contrast in whether they did or did not reconceptualize and change their practice when faced with new students. We also examine ways in which their high school departments facilitated, supported or inhibited change in teaching. The analysis focuses on 4 teachers in the same school district: an English and math teacher who adapted to new students and 2 respected colleagues who did not. Different patterns of goals, beliefs, and conceptions of subject matter and students are characteristic of teachers who adapt and those who do not, and patterns are surprisingly similar in both English and math. Survey data from a sample of public school teachers confirm the relationships suggested in the case studies.
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