Learning to Attend to Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Learners Through Teacher Inquiry in Teacher Education
by Steven Z. Athanases, Juliet Michelsen Wahleithner & Lisa H. Bennett - 2012
Background/Context: Learning to meet studentsí needs challenges new teachers often focused on procedures, management, materials, and curriculum. To avoid this development pattern, student teachers (STs) need opportunities to concentrate especially on needs of culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) students. Teacher inquiry (TI) holds promise as one such opportunity.
Purpose/Objective/Research Question/Focus of Study: We sought to understand how STs in a teacher credential program with a history of attention to diverse learners were learning about their CLD students through TI.
Research Design: We examined data collected from 80 STs over a 6-year period, including 80 TIs; STsí data analysis field memos; questionnaires with reflections on TI processes and products; and taped ST peer discussions and conferences with instructor. Data also documented TI instruction, classroom culture, and opportunities to develop learning related to conducting TI. Drawing on research and theory, we developed, tested, and used a rubric of 17 indicators of attention to CLD learners as a means to examine the range of ways and the extent to which STs attended to CLD students through TI.
Findings/Results: STs took actions of various kinds to learn about diverse students: researching contexts and histories; examining student work and performance at full-class, subgroup, and individual levels; and asking and listening beneath the surface to studentsí reasoning, attitudes, beliefs, and concerns about school learning and other issues. Various assessment and inquiry tools supported the process, helping STs develop data literacy to attend to CLD learners. However, TI elements were used to varying degrees, in various ways, and with varying levels of success. Two cases illustrate the range of TI tools that STs used to learn about their CLD learners, to generate data and evidence about learning, and to act in ways responsive to what they learned about students.
Conclusions/Recommendations: Those interested in studying multiple STsí inquiries for attention to CLD learners may need to develop frames and analytic methods to examine a corpus of cases. This study was grounded in an assumption that such crosscutting analyses accumulate knowledge to disseminate to larger audiences, challenging conceptions that values of TI are purely local, serving only those directly involved.
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