The purpose of this study was to understand the factors and process involved in developing a commitment to multicultural education. The two questions that guided the study were (a) What kinds of life experiences contribute to a commitment to multicultural education? and (b) What is the process by which individuals become committed to multicultural education? The research methodology of content analysis was used to answer the first question and phenomenology was used to answer the second.
The theoretical population for this study included all teachers in the United States who are committed to multicultural education/diversity. The tangible population included members of the National Association for Multicultural Education (NAME). The criterion sample for the study was those members of NAME who (a) were affiliated with pre-kindergarten through higher education in 1997, and (b) attended the 1997 NAME Annual Conference (n=330).
A questionnaire consisting of one open-ended and various standard demographic questions was mailed to the sample. Content analysis of the returned questionnaires revealed 11 factors that contributed to developing a commitment to multicultural education. Telephone interviews were also conducted with 45 volunteer respondents from the sample. Phenomenological analysis of the interviews strongly suggested that a four stage process can be used to describe the development of a commitment to multicultural education.
The results of the study have implications for multicultural education and teacher education. Foremost in the conclusions of this study is the support for (a) cultural immersion experiences and (b) coursework in multicultural education that evokes a critical analysis of the sociopolitical status quo in U.S. society.