unlimited access with print and download

Free

Continue searching

A qualitative case study of cultural competency among Advanced Placement teachers in Florida

Dissertation
Author: Monica G. Hayes
Abstract:
The concept of cultural competency, its application, and impact on K-12 learning have not received much attention in the literature. Teachers need to understand the connection between culture and pedagogy when teaching minority and underrepresented students. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to examine whether the skill sets in teaching practices, beliefs, and attitudes toward teaching students of color and other underrepresented students in Advanced Placement courses were influenced by College Board-supervised professional development with curriculum that included a cultural competency component. The research design was a qualitative case study that included volunteer participants from three counties in Florida, who had participated in at least one College Board-supervised Advanced Placement Summer Institute (APSI) since 2003. Volunteer teachers participated in structured interviews and a focus group. The findings support the reality of the connection between beliefs and attitudes. Culture frames one's environment and the findings support the importance of cultural stimuli or the lack of such stimuli and the impact on behavior and maturational development. While none of the study participants felt the College Board-supervised APSIs they had attended had addressed cultural competency, all agreed that the training had helped them become better teachers. The findings support the need for an emphasis on increasing access and success for minority and underrepresented students and the need to provide more culturally and linguistically competent learning environments for students and educators.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

DEDICATION .....................................................................................................................v

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................................................................................. vi

LIST OF FIGURES ......................................................................................................... xiv

CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION ........................................................................................1

Background of the Problem ................................................................................................ 5

Statement of the Problem .................................................................................................... 9

Purpose of the Study ......................................................................................................... 10

Significance of the Study .................................................................................................. 12

Significance of the Study to Education Leadership .......................................................... 12

Nature of the Study ........................................................................................................... 14

The Research Questions .................................................................................................... 17

Theoretical Framework ..................................................................................................... 17

Definition of Terms........................................................................................................... 20

Assumptions ...................................................................................................................... 22

Scope, Limitations, and Delimitations .............................................................................. 23

Summary ........................................................................................................................... 27

CHAPTER 2: REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE ............................................................29

Title Searches, Articles, Research Documents, and Journals ........................................... 30

Historical Overview .......................................................................................................... 31

Teacher Training ............................................................................................................... 36

Multicultural Education .................................................................................................... 44

Cultural Competency ........................................................................................................ 54

x

Professional Development ................................................................................................ 59

Other Points of View and Gaps in the Literature .............................................................. 68

Conclusion ........................................................................................................................ 69

Summary ........................................................................................................................... 71

CHAPTER 3: RESEARCH METHODS ...........................................................................76

Research Method and Design Appropriateness ................................................................ 76

Population ......................................................................................................................... 79

Sampling ........................................................................................................................... 80

Sampling Procedure .......................................................................................................... 81

Informed Consent.............................................................................................................. 82

Confidentiality .................................................................................................................. 82

Geographic Location ......................................................................................................... 83

Data Collection ................................................................................................................. 84

Instrumentation ................................................................................................................. 90

Validity and Reliability ..................................................................................................... 91

Data Analysis .................................................................................................................... 95

Data Analysis Process ....................................................................................................... 97

Summary ......................................................................................................................... 100

CHAPTER 4: DATA ANALYSIS and RESULTS .........................................................102

Study Population ............................................................................................................. 103

The Research Questions .................................................................................................. 106

Common Themes ............................................................................................................ 107

Focus Group Responses to the Research Questions ....................................................... 112

Common Themes-Focus Group ...................................................................................... 116

xi

Conclusion ...................................................................................................................... 121

CHAPTER 5: CONCLUSIONS, IMPLICATIONS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS .................................................................................................124

Statement of the Problem ................................................................................................ 125

The Specific Problem ...................................................................................................... 125

Purpose Statement ........................................................................................................... 126

Research Design.............................................................................................................. 126

Validity and Reliability ................................................................................................... 129

Literature Review............................................................................................................ 132

Equity, Immigration, and Multiculturalism .................................................................... 137

Unexpected Findings ...................................................................................................... 142

Summary of Findings ...................................................................................................... 143

Recommendations for Education Leadership ................................................................. 150

Recommendation for Additional Research ..................................................................... 153

Conclusion ...................................................................................................................... 154

REFERENCES ................................................................................................................157

APPENDIX A: FCAT DATA .........................................................................................173

APPENDIX B: PERCENTAGE INCREASE IN NUMBER OF AP EXAM TAKERS ..........................................................................................................................178

APPENDIX C: INFORMED CONSENT FORM ...........................................................181

APPENDIX D: INVITATION TO PARTICIPATE LETTER ........................................183

APPENDIX E: INFORMED CONSENT: PARTICIPANTS 18 YEARS OF AGE AND OLDER .........................................................................................................185

APPENDIX F: INTERVIEW QUESTIONS PART 1—PERSONAL TEACHING AND LEARNING ......................................................................................187

APPENDIX G: SECONDARY CODES & FOCUS GROUP QUESTIONS .................188

xii

APPENDIX H: EQUITY IN EDUCATION ...................................................................189

xiii

LIST OF TABLES Table 1

Age Demographics

................................................................................. 103 Table 2

Gender Demographics

........................................................................... 104 Table 3

Years Teaching Demographics

.............................................................. 104 Table 4

Master's Degree Demographics

............................................................. 105 Table 5

Racial Demographics

............................................................................. 105 Table 6

Statements on Cultural Competency

...................................................... 140

xiv

LIST OF FIGURES Figure 1. NAEP grade 4 reading scores—Black students 1998, 2002, and 2003. Source: Governor’s State of Education Address (2003).

................................................................. 3 Figure 2. NAEP grade 4 reading scores—Hispanic students 1998, 2002, and 2003. Source: Governor’s State of Education Address (2003).

.................................................... 4 Figure 3. FCAT Reading Achievement Level 3 and above.

........................................... 147

1

CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION A 2008 report issued by the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) noted that the United States is a nation that historically has not educated all of its children equally (USDOE, 2008). A commission report to USDOE written twenty-five years earlier by Gardner (1983) described the shortcomings of the nation’s education system, and created a similar national sense of urgency to improve America’s education system. Disaggregation of data from the Florida Department of Education (2009, May) revealed students of color and other underrepresented students continued to be disproportionally represented in the low performing range. Culture is an all-encompassing phenomenon that impacts every aspect of daily life (Banks & Banks, 2007). The origins of culture derive from the activities of human beings (Banks & Banks, 2007). The interface between culture and beliefs manifests in a variety of ways (Corwin & Tierney, 2007). In an organization for example, culture is reflected in decorations, attitudes, practices, and patterns of interactions (Corwin & Tierney, 2007). Cultural norms can influence achievement outcomes in a school because students’ beliefs about themselves and what they perceive others believe about them reflect the impact of cultural norms (Banks & Banks, 2007; Corwin & Tierney, 2007; Grant & Sleeter, 2007; Murrell, 2007). Teachers who know little or nothing about the cultures of their students cannot provide an educational environment that meets students’ needs (Darling-Hammond & Bransford, 2005; Howard, 2006). Strategies used to impart lessons which do not include cultural references are often perceived as irrelevant by students of color (Darling-Hammond & Bransford, 2005; Howard, 2006).

2

The lack of respect for culture and diversity began in the early days of the American nation with the arrival of the first slaves from Africa (Darling-Hammond, 2006). Darling-Hammond (2006) wrote that Thomas Jefferson affirmed the importance of education and the connection to self-reliance. American history is replete with examples of the denial of educational opportunities for African slaves, and then freed Blacks (Fraser, 2007; Ogren, 2005; Woodson, 1945). The lack of access to education, sanctioned under Jim Crow laws, was a reality in Florida (Rivers, 2000). An example is the 1885 law mandating that “White and colored children shall not be taught in the same school” (Florida Constitution, 1885). The systemic and ongoing failure to provide quality educational offerings to Blacks, and later to Hispanics, and other students of color continued unabated (Banks & Banks, 2007; Darling-Hammond, 2006). A more recent indication of this reality was a presentation by Florida’s then Governor Jeb Bush in 2003. Figures 1 and 2 below depict the progress made by Hispanic and Black students in Florida compared to the progress of Hispanic and Black students nationally.

3

Figure 1. NAEP grade 4 reading scores—Black students 1998, 2002, and 2003. Source: Governor’s State of Education Address (2003).

4

Figure 2. NAEP grade 4 reading scores—Hispanic students 1998, 2002, and 2003. Source: Governor’s State of Education Address (2003).

The importance of cultural awareness in light of the cultural and linguistic diversity in America’s classrooms has been written about extensively. Current immigrants focus more on retaining language and cultural traditions than previous immigrants who tended to assimilate into mainstream American culture (Banks & Banks, 2007). Clewell, Puma and McKay (2005) supported the notion that students of color benefitted from the cultural and linguistic commonalities shared between teacher and student. Insufficient numbers of teachers of color are in classrooms or in teacher preparation programs to provide students with the commonalities noted in Clewell et al.’s (2005) study. Changes in demographics have created a situation that renders the

5

perception of White as majority all but meaningless (Olsen, Bhattacharya, & Scharf, 2006). The student population in American classrooms has changed since the 1970s when minority students comprised twenty-two percent of the school population (Banks, Cochran-Smith, Moll, Richert et al., 2005). In less than thirty years minority will be a misnomer when applied to students of color; such students will be the majority in public schools in the United States (Banks, et al., 2005; USDOE, 2008). Educators, unfamiliar with the cultures and languages of many of their students, may find themselves ill prepared to teach such diverse populations (Banks & Banks, 2007; Howard, 2006). Darling-Hammond and Branford (2005) provided a focus on what knowledge and competencies teachers need to successfully reach and teach diverse student populations in 21st century classrooms. The unique history of Blacks in the United States, the increase of immigration to the United States of Hispanics, Haitians, and Asians, the ever-increasing diversity among students, and the need for greater cultural competency among educators provided the backdrop for this study (Banks & Banks, 2007; Fraser, 2007; Woodson, 1945). Background of the Problem Prior to a major gubernatorial initiative commencing in 2000, more than 52% of Florida’s students were reading below grade level (One Florida, 2002). Disaggregation of the data showed students of color and other underrepresented students were disproportionally represented in the low performing ranges (FLDOE, 2002; One Florida, 2002). In November 1999, Governor Jeb Bush of Florida expressed a concern that too many minority students were not achieving at acceptable levels. The Governor said there had been an insufficient focus on academic achievement for all students (One Florida,

6

2002), and insisted that minority and underrepresented students needed to have greater access to high quality educational offerings. The Governor noted the inequities in Florida’s educational system, asserting that the problem of poorly educating children of color and other underrepresented children had been ignored for a long time. The Teaching Commission (2004) reported that teacher education programs have not been successful in providing teachers with the requisite skills for 21st century learning environments: an increasingly diversified student body, a demand for greater academic rigor, particularly in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), and technological advances in teaching practices and equipment. The focus cannot be just on diversity but also must be on the skill sets of cultural competency (Cross, Bazran, Dennis, & Isaacs, 1989; Olsen et al., 2006). Cultural competency is not simply an awareness of differences, but rather an ability to think, behave, and value differences responsively, inclusively, and respectfully (Elam, Robinson & McCloud, 2007). According to Adelman (2006) in a follow-up study commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education, a challenging high school curriculum is the best indicator of a student’s potential for success in postsecondary degree attainment. The report indicated that students, including Black, Latino, and other underrepresented students who lack access to higher-level mathematics, are particularly at risk. A 2008 report indicates that in the past thirty years American students have not significantly improved on academic achievement outcomes compared to students in other countries. Students in the United States are in 10 th place behind international students in high school completion rates (USDOE, 2008). American students lag in other areas of academic achievement. Flawn

7

(2008) noted that U. S. students score in the mediocre range in math achievement. Stine et al., (2005) stated that the American scientific community had concerns because American students had fallen below the rankings of twenty-one other countries in math and science. America’s educators must not only do a better job of educating students but must educate even greater numbers to more proficient and advanced levels (USDOE, 2008). U.S. educators must better educate all students, specifically students of color and other underrepresented students, if America is to maintain a position of world supremacy (Adelman, 2006). In a policy information report for the Educational Testing Service, Kirsch, Braun, Yamamoto, and Sum (2007) asserted that the changes in demographics would be significant, noting that the percentage of Latino students in the education system would increase from just fewer than 15% to more than 20% within the next 23 years or less. The reality of the increasing numbers of students of color, the import of better educating all students and preparing them for the workforce, and a 21st century world has become an even more important goal for educators (USDOE, 2008). Achievement outcomes for Black students were also lagging, with fewer than 15% of Black fourth graders reading at proficient levels (USDOE, 2008). Common themes in other research reports included population increases due to immigration, increasing numbers of minority students entering American schools, and the ongoing and pervasive lack of preparation of students of color and underrepresented students at each transition point (Adelman, 2006; Kirsch et al., 2007; USDOE, 2008). A report from the Committee on Prospering in the Global Economy of the 21st Century (2005) described the importance of ensuring that all students, including students

8

of color and other underrepresented students, have access to more rigorous educational offerings and higher expectations for success in academic outcomes. Elam, Robinson, and McCloud (2007) asserted that education has always been perceived as an equalizer, but that educational equity does not yet exist. In light of this fact, educators must ensure that all children in public schools in America are properly prepared for the workforce, for postsecondary pursuits, and for service as members of the larger community (USDOE, 2008). The reality of the changing demographic landscape is that in less than 40 years students of color will comprise more than 50% of the total public school population (Clewell et al., 2005). The disparity in numbers of teachers of color available to participate in the education of students of color is well known (Clewell et al., 2005; Darling-Hammond & Bransford, 2005; Dilworth & Ardila-Rey, 2004; Howard, 2006; Irvine, 2003). Education leaders responsible for managing the American public education system are unable to provide students with teachers from similar backgrounds (Clewell et al., 2005; Howard, 2006; Irvine, 2003). Clewell et al. (2005) sought to ascertain whether a benefit existed for students of color if their teachers were also from the same minority or ethnic group. The study supported the concept that students of color benefitted from the cultural and linguistic commonalities shared between teacher and student. Clewell et al. (2005) also emphasized the importance of the link between culture and learning. Florida’s most recent data suggested that despite the rapidly growing Latino population, state education leaders were unable to provide sufficient numbers of Latino teachers proportionate to Latino students (FLDOE, Statistical Brief, 2008). A similar

9

shortage existed for Black teachers, although the population growth among Blacks was significantly smaller (FLDOE, 2008). The Statistical Brief (FLDOE, 2008) showed that in October of 2007, Florida’s minority student population was 54.19 percent (1,437,451 students); minority teachers on the other hand, comprised 26.24 percent (45,193 teachers). Cultural competency in all teachers will benefit students in general, but particularly students of color and underrepresented students (Darling-Hammond & Bransford, 2005; Grant & Sleeter, 2007; Howard, 2006). Statement of the Problem The General Problem The general problem is that Black, Hispanic, and underrepresented students in public schools in Florida historically have failed to achieve at the same academic level as White students. A review of data contained in the One Florida 2002 report suggested that students of color and other underrepresented students were less likely than White students to have access to rigorous coursework and therefore, less likely to have equal access to opportunities for success related to either postsecondary educational pursuits or the workforce (FLDOE, 2002). Governor Bush asserted that the educational practices employed by educators were misleading to students of color and their families. The Specific Problem The ongoing failure to reach and teach all students (FLDOE FCAT Data, 2009; NAEP, 1999-2007; One Florida, 2002) in Florida raised the question of what else besides the traditional foci–race and ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and lack of family involvement–might contribute to the unsolved dilemma. The concept of cultural competency, its application, and impact on K-12 learning have not received much

10

attention in the literature. Teachers need to understand the connection between culture and pedagogy when teaching minority and underrepresented students (Darling-Hammond & Bransford, 2005; Elam, Robinson, & McCloud, 2007). In 2000, Governor Bush announced a legislatively funded partnership with the College Board to promote increased rigor, professional development, and high quality academic offerings in high poverty and high minority public schools in Florida. The partnership provided state- funded professional development in Advanced Placement (AP) courses for teachers in failing schools and an emphasis on open access for minority and underrepresented students interested in taking AP courses (One Florida, 2002). Methodology and Population This qualitative case study included an examination of the influence of professional development with curriculum that included a cultural competency component. Participants were teachers of AP courses in three districts in Florida. Qualitative data gleaned from interviews and a focus group demonstrated the beliefs, attitudes, and teaching practices of participants prior to and after their participation in the state-funded professional development. Purpose of the Study The purpose of this qualitative case study was to examine whether the skill sets in teaching practices, beliefs, and attitudes toward teaching students of color and other underrepresented students in AP courses were influenced by College Board-supervised professional development with curriculum that included a cultural competency component. Cultural competency as defined by Elam et al. (2007) noted the importance of beliefs and attitudes on decision-making and working effectively across cultures. The

11

College Board curriculum provided during the Advanced Placement Summer Institutes (APSIs) did not include a stand-alone curriculum of cultural competency but rather a curriculum that integrated the skill sets, values, and beliefs inherent in a culturally competent approach to teaching The research design was a case study that included structured interviews and a focus group with study participants (Fontana & Frey, 2005; Stake, 2005). A case study facilitates understanding using focused research questions designed to elicit the views of participants in their own words (Stake, 2005). The process is enhanced because the process does not involve just one phase such as the face-to-face interviews, but also triangulation via the focus group interaction with some of the same study participants. The choice of a case study was appropriate because of the focus on a specific event analyzed from the perspectives of participants. For the purposes of this study, the event was a College Board-supervised week-long Advanced Placement Summer Institute (APSI). A qualitative case study was appropriate because such a method allowed an inquiry via the posited questions and possible identification of issues for further research, specifically in the area of cultural competency and the influence of culture on learning and student achievement. Volunteer participants–teachers of Advanced Placement courses–from Leon, Gadsden, and Duval counties in Florida, who had participated in at least one College Board-supervised APSI since 2003 were invited to be study participants. This qualitative case study, therefore, involved face-to-face interviews and a focus group with volunteer participants. The interviews and the focus group discussion provided an opportunity to

12

hear about and perhaps better understand (Stake, 2005) the influence of professional development with a curriculum component of cultural competency. Significance of the Study White teachers constitute a majority of teachers in public schools and more than 80% of those graduating from schools of education (Irvine, 2003). The import of cultural competency is that education leaders of the American public education system are unable to provide students with teachers from similar backgrounds (Clewell et al., 2005; Irvine, 2003). White teachers face increasing challenges and frustrations teaching children about whom they understand and appreciate little or nothing of their cultures and languages (Howard, 2006). Similar themes are echoed in the works of Banks and Banks (2007) and Darling-Hammond (2006), each of whom espoused the importance of the need for teachers to be able to teach and engage all students. The skill sets, values, beliefs, and practices inherent in a culturally competent individual are essential for all those working in multicultural environments (Olsen, et al., 2006). People from all over the world live in America’s communities (Olsen, et al., 2006). Adelman (2006) and Kirsch, et al., (2007) also examined the relationship between academic preparation and successful outcomes in postsecondary pursuits including the workforce. Significance of the Study to Education Leadership The purpose of this qualitative case study was to examine whether the skill sets in teaching practices, beliefs, and attitudes toward teaching students of color and other underrepresented students in AP courses were influenced by College Board-supervised professional development with a curriculum component of cultural competency. A

13

review of the literature identified studies in K-12 education and in other disciplines that had provided information on, and strategies present in, culturally competent practitioners. The information gathered from this case study provided recommendations to address the need for education leaders to appreciate the need for more widespread and ongoing training in cultural competency. The recommendations from the National Academies (Stine, Arrison, Attis, Haak, Henderson & Husbands, 2005) to increase the numbers of college-bound and college- prepared students interested in pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) did not recognize the input of researchers, such as Banks and Banks (2007) and Darling-Hammond (2006), who wrote about the inability of many teachers to teach effectively in diverse educational environments. A common theme among these referenced researchers was the importance of the environment and the influence of culture on learning and Banks and Banks’ (2007) assertion that culture is omnipresent. The significance of this study is that the connection between cultural competency–knowledge, appreciation, and respect for diversity in the broadest sense–and the impact on beliefs, attitudes, behaviors, and teaching practices (Elam et al., 2007) are comprehensively discussed. Professional development, with a cultural competency component, may help preservice and current educators enhance teachers’ ability to engage and teach all students. This qualitative case study is significant because it provides insights on the beliefs, attitudes, and teaching practices as discussed with volunteer participants in their own words. A qualitative case study format provided an opportunity to interpret the participants’ observations (Denzin & Lincoln, 2005; Vivar, 2007) and an opportunity to

14

suggest recommendations for transformational change in American classrooms through professional development. The interview questions posited to the participants helped elicit the referenced insights (Denzin & Lincoln, 2005; Stake, 2005). Elam et al. (2007) suggest that more culturally competent educators will provide an educational system that will focus on teaching and reaching all students regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, disability, or other identifiers used to categorize students. Nature of the Study A qualitative study provides an opportunity to gather data from the opinions of the participants in their own words (Creswell, 2005). Qualitative research designs also facilitate a process of better understanding an event or phenomena from the descriptions and interpretations as data emerge. The researcher in a qualitative case study makes use of the interpretation of words used, beliefs, and opinions expressed, and lessons learned (Stake, 2005). The selection of a qualitative case study methodology provided an opportunity to assess the influence, if any, of the professional development on the participants’ beliefs, attitudes, and teaching practices. The volunteer participants in this study participated in College Board- supervised Advanced Placement Summer Institutes (APSIs) in Florida and provided the detailed information for review and study through the analysis of the face-to-face interviews and the focus group (Stake 2005). Interview questions were designed to elicit the information for interpretation and study. The qualitative case study design facilitated the identification of trends and relevant language that might suggest questions for additional research study.

15

The purpose of this qualitative case study was to examine if the skill sets in teaching practices, beliefs, and attitudes toward teaching students of color and other underrepresented students in AP courses were influenced by College Board-supervised professional development with a cultural competency component. The study design included participants who were teachers of AP courses because these courses represent a globally recognized apex of academic offerings for college-going students (College Board, 2005-2008). AP teachers were the educators who in significant numbers participated in the APSIs in Florida that incorporated training with a cultural competency component. In 2006, Adelman, writing for the USDOE, conducted a follow-up study replicating the research design and methodology of an earlier study. The author affirmed the findings of the first report (Adelman, 1999) and noted that although progress was apparent in the increase in numbers of students of color pursuing postsecondary education, the evidence of significant access and achievement gaps (Adelman, 2006) still existed. A rigorous high school course of study and its connection to degree completion had a greater positive impact on Black and Latino students than any other success indicator (Adelman, 2006). The significance of this finding is that the environment in an AP classroom and the interaction between teachers and students involve higher-level thinking, writing, discipline, and participation (Adelman, 2006). The research study design was a qualitative case study to examine if professional development with a component of cultural competency, influenced teachers’ practice, beliefs, and attitudes toward teaching minority and underrepresented students in AP courses in Florida. Participants were volunteers. The research questions addressed

Full document contains 204 pages
Abstract: The concept of cultural competency, its application, and impact on K-12 learning have not received much attention in the literature. Teachers need to understand the connection between culture and pedagogy when teaching minority and underrepresented students. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to examine whether the skill sets in teaching practices, beliefs, and attitudes toward teaching students of color and other underrepresented students in Advanced Placement courses were influenced by College Board-supervised professional development with curriculum that included a cultural competency component. The research design was a qualitative case study that included volunteer participants from three counties in Florida, who had participated in at least one College Board-supervised Advanced Placement Summer Institute (APSI) since 2003. Volunteer teachers participated in structured interviews and a focus group. The findings support the reality of the connection between beliefs and attitudes. Culture frames one's environment and the findings support the importance of cultural stimuli or the lack of such stimuli and the impact on behavior and maturational development. While none of the study participants felt the College Board-supervised APSIs they had attended had addressed cultural competency, all agreed that the training had helped them become better teachers. The findings support the need for an emphasis on increasing access and success for minority and underrepresented students and the need to provide more culturally and linguistically competent learning environments for students and educators.