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An exploration of identity development and culturally relevant teaching practices among African American elementary pre-service teachers in urban communities

Dissertation
Author: Juanita Ashby Bey
Abstract:
African Americans living in urban communities are subjected to many disparities including racial discrimination and cultural discontinuities that manifest in public school classrooms. African American students continue to struggle academically and are less likely to attend college, which maintains their impoverished status. This study was designed to investigate how teacher education programs could help improve the academic status of urban African American students. The purpose of this study was to explore and document the results of integrating theoretical and pedagogical knowledge related to identity development and culturally relevant teaching into a teacher education program as an intervention method to more effectively prepare pre-service teachers to teach urban African American students. This study utilized a mixed method concurrent nested approach. Case study methodology and ethnographic components were used to collect data for this project. Quantitative data collection methods included the use of CRIS to collect identity data and the CRTI to collect data on culturally relevant teaching practices. Qualitative data were collected using reflective journals, field notes, observations, interviews, and debriefing sessions. Results of the study indicated that pre-service teachers believed that the intervention activities were beneficial inclusions in their academic program. The sessions helped the African American pre-service teachers understand the relationship between their oppressive experiences and their identity. All pre-service teachers experienced some change in their identity and all pre-service teachers applied some culturally relevant teaching strategies; however, they require additional preparation to apply notions of political expression, sociopolitical critique, and community responsibility. Data also indicated that the pre-service teachers realized that their role as teachers included helping African American students transform their lives. Additionally, there was consistent evidence that suggested that pre-service teachers began to develop a critical consciousness and began to engage in critical action. A very important finding of this research was the discovery of the lack of knowledge that pre-service teachers have about the history of the Diaspora, including African American history.

v Table of Contents Pg.No. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ii CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION 1 Rationale and Need for the Study 1 Purpose and Significance of the Study 4 Overview of the Theoretical Framework 7 Research Methods,Questions,and Definitions 8 Research Methods 8 Research Questions 9 Definition of Terms 10 Conclusion 11 CHAPTER II LITERATURE REVIEW 13 Introduction 13 Section One:Identity Development in a Social Context 16 Identity Development through Social Divisions 21 Identity Development and Teaching Practices 29 Section Two:The Importance of Culturally Relevant Teaching 35 Defining Culturally Relevant Teaching Theory 36 Sociocultural Concepts and the Evolutionary Process of Learning 39 Anthropologic Concepts of Cultural Learning 41 Discourse Patterns of African American Learners 45

vi Section Three:Culturally Relevant Curricula and Instructional Models 47 Curricula Models for African American Learners 54 Culturally Relevant Instructional Strategies 61 Conclusion 68 CHAPTER III RESEARCH METHODOLOGY 72 Introduction 72 Purpose of the Study 72 Research Questions 73 Researcher Statement 76 Research Design 78 Instrumentation 81 Data Collection Procedures 85 Qualitative Methods 85 Quantitative Methods 89 CRIS Instrument 92 Data Collection and Authenticity Criteria 93 Data Analysis 96 Qualitative Methods 96 Quantitative Methods 99 CRT Inventory 99 CRIS Survey Analysis 101 Participants 104

vii Research Sites 107 Study Limitations 108 Conclusion 109 CHAPTER IV STUDY RESULTS AND ANALYSIS 111 Introduction 111 Example of Content fromCulturally Relevant Pre-service Teacher (CRPT) Intervention Sessions 114 Analysis of Question#1 - Value of CRPT Intervention Sessions 122 Mariama Richardson - Planting Seeds 123 Michele Holmes - Learning to Challenge 125 Chai Middleton - Reconnecting with Self to Improve Esteem 127 Ebony Anderson - Exploring Culturally Relevant Teaching Practices 128 Summative Analysis of Questions#1 - Value of CRPT Intervention Sessions 130 Analysis of Question#2 - Identity Development 131 Analysis of Individual CRIS Data in Relation to Cumulative CRIS Data 135 Summative Analysis of Question#2 - Identity Development 136 Analysis of Question#3 - Culturally Relevant Teaching Practices 137 Quantitative Data Analysis of CRT Practices 138 Researcher's Analysis of Data 138

viii Outside Evaluator's Analysis of Data 142 Comparison of Researcher Data and Outside Evaluator's Analysis using Mean Data 143 Comparison of Researcher Data and Outside Evaluator's Analysis using Mode Data 146 Qualitative Data Analysis of CRT Practices 147 Summative Analysis of Questions#3 - CRT Qualitative and Quantitative Data 150 Analysis of Emerging Themes - Development of Critical Consciousness and Engagement in Critical Action 151 Engagement in Critical Action 157 Summative Analysis of Emergent Themes 160 Conclusion 168 CHAPTER V PROCESS OF MERGING IDENTITY DEVELOPMENT (ID) AND CULTURALLY RELEVANT TEACHING (CRT) PRACTICES 170 Mariama's Process for Healing 170 Introduction 171 Mariama Richardson's Identity Development Pathways and Processes 173 Mariama's Use of Culturally Relevant Teaching Strategies 178 Teaching Truth to African American Students 182 The Healing Power of Education 184 Mariama's Summative Analysis 188

ix Michele's Process of Self-discovery 189 Michele Holmes'Identity Development Pathways and Processes 191 Finding Freedomthrough Education 200 Personal Responsibility 203 Michele Holmes'Summative Analysis 204 Ebony's Process of Building Connections 206 Ebony Anderson's Identity Development Pathways and Processes 207 Infusing Putamayo Music to Find Instructional Balance 218 Ebony Anderson's Summative Analysis 222 Conclusion 224 CHAPTER VI IMPLICATIONS AND FUTURE RESEARCH 226 Introduction 226 Study Limitations,Validity,and Reliability 232 Major Findings,Implications,and Future Research Questions 234 Value of the CRPT Intervention Sessions 234 Relationship between the CRPT Intervention Sessions and Pre-Service Teacher Identity 236 Relationship between the CRPT Intervention Sessions and Pre-Service Teacher Use of Culturally Relevant Teaching Practices 238 Merging Identity Development and Culturally Relevant Teaching Practices 240

x Emerging Model for Teacher Development 245 Conclusion 249 REFERENCES 250 APPENDICES Appendix A - Informed Consent for Participation in Research Activities Appendix B - What are Culturally Relevant Teaching Practices? Appendix C - Coding Themes Collective and Individual Appendix D - Survey of Culturally Relevant Teaching Practices Appendix E - Pre-Service Teacher Questions Appendix F - Phase I Research Outline Appendix G - CRIS Scale

xi LIST OF TABLES Pg. No. Table 1 Curricula Modifications 57 Table 2 CRT Pedagogical Model 63 Table 3 CRT Pedagogical Model 64 Table 4 Research Design and Implementation 80 Table 5 Research Phases I and II 90 Table 6 Phases and Stages of Black Identity 92 Table 7 Participant Demographic Data 106 Table 8 Summary of Key Findings of Research Questions 1,2,and 3 112 Table 9 Cumulative CRIS Data 134 Table 10 CRT Likert Ratings for Researcher's Observations 140 Table 11 CRT Likert Ratings for Both Evaluators’ Observations 144 Table 12 Mariama's Merging Process 173 Table 13 CRIS Survey Results for Mariama 176 Table 14 Michele's Merging Process 191 Table 15 CRIS Survey Results for Michele 199 Table 16 Ebony's Merging Process 207 Table 17 Ebony's Self Reflections of Identity Development 211 Table 18 CRIS Survey Results for Ebony 217

xii LIST OF FIGURES Pg.No. Figure 1 Vygotsky's Process of Internalization 43 Figure 2 Qualitative Data Collection Procedures 88 Figure 3 Quantitative Data Collection Procedures 91 Figure 4 Process of Critical Engagement 164 Figure 5 Cumulative Display of Critical Engagement 167 Figure 6 Culturally Relevant Pre-Service Teacher Intervention Model 229 Figure 7 Process of Critical Engagement 248

CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION Rationale and Need for the Study African American students have historically found it difficult to excel academically,particularly since the 1954 Brown vs.Board of Education (hereafter known as Brown vs.Board) decision issued by United States Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren to desegregate America’s public school systems.This ruling explicitly stated the importance of “public” education,“democratic” education,and “culture” in providing equal educational experiences for all students (Franklin &Moss,1994).Unfortunately, “the implicit political education currently predominant in American public schools is not democratic…because it is based on a narrow,self-serving definition of educational values;it discriminates against particular cultural groups,disavowing local culture” (Bruckerhoff,1995,p.1).African Americans,particularly those living in urban communities,still fall victimto subtle and overt forms of discrimination.Although the Brown vs.Board decision intended to correct the traditional structure of separate but equal education,and,hence,improve the academic experiences for African American learners,the data on the academic achievement of African American students often discredit its success. For example,the data obtained fromthe 2005 Maryland State Assessment (MSA) of reading in Howard County,Maryland,a predominant White public school district and one of the highest socioeconomic counties in Maryland,indicated that 29.2 percent of White students and 35 percent of African American students scored at the basic level in 8 th grade reading and 37.5 percent of White students and 25 percent of African American

2 students scored at the advanced level.In comparison,for the same academic year in Baltimore City,an urban school district with a predominantly African American population,the data for 8 th grade reading content indicated that 14.1 percent of the students scored at the advanced level and 62.2 percent scored at the basic level (MSDE, 2005).These data reflect the low level of achievement often seen in public schools nationwide.According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) (2003), African American students scored below all other racial and ethnic groups on reading assessments. One interpretation of these data suggests that public education is grounded in the norms,beliefs,behaviors,and values of the dominant group,challenging the identity structures for African American students,and perhaps,contributing to the huge percentage of students achieving at the basic level in reading.Further,these data speak to the need to develop pre-service teachers who are prepared to effectively use culturally relevant teaching methods with urban,African American students.The use of culturally relevant teaching practices accommodates African American social and cultural learning styles (Spardlin,Welsh,&Hinson,2000). According to Bennett (1995),African Americans are subjected to many disparities including racial discrimination,lack of political representation,and impoverished communities.African Americans are less likely to attend a college or university due to both the lack academic preparedness and the lack of financial resources. The combination of the lack of education and disparate conditions has created reoccurring challenges for African Americans.However,research suggests that the integration of culturally relevant educational curricula and strategies could provide the

3 necessary knowledge and processes to help African Americans overcome these challenges (Burstein &Cabello,1989). Teacher education programs typically do not address the critical social,economic, or political issues to support critical learning.Teacher development is essential to the success of student learning,and the examining the inclusion of culturally relevant teaching strategies in a teacher education program could provide useful information for researchers and educators.As urban and suburban student populations across the nation continue to become more diverse,institutions of higher education need to prepare teachers to think critically and reflectively about their own identity to help prepare them to apply culturally relevant teaching strategies to assist African American students in acquiring more advanced levels of academic content.It is crucial that educational researchers develop and test instructional models that integrate culturally relevant approaches and identity development into teacher education programs (Boykin,1986; Delpit,1995;Hale,2001;hooks,1994). This study was inspired by the researcher’s own experience in her Ph.D.program. The researcher’s Ph.D.courses included readings and discussion on the systemization of oppression,class formation,racial and sexual discrimination,and identity development. The researcher gained an in-depth understanding of how teachers’ cultural perspectives, beliefs,and values can impact the way they teaches and how their students learn.These realizations and insights served as points of curiosity for this study,which led to additional questions.For example,how would pre-service elementary teachers benefit fromexploring similar ideas early in their professional career?How would understanding these ideas impact pre-service teaching students’ teaching practices with

4 urban,African American students?What types of instructional models could be used in teacher education programs to best help pre-service teachers understand the connection between identity development and infusing culturally relevant teaching practices? Empowered by these personal experiences and intrigued by these driving questions,the researcher designed a study to examine identity development and culturally relevant teaching practices for a set of five African American elementary education pre- service teachers practicing in urban schools with majority African American student populations.Educating African Americans to overcome oppressive dynamics became a natural and practical focus of the study,specifically through Culturally Relevant Pre- Service Teacher (CRPT) Intervention Sessions,which were designed to infuse graduate level course content into an undergraduate elementary education program.These sessions engaged the researcher in extensive research,analysis,and discussion on issues of race, class,democracy and education,culturally relevant teaching practices,identity development,and African perspectives of language,literacy,and culture.The CRPT Intervention Sessions constituted the primary instructional model and were designed to engage pre-service teachers in readings and discussions on identity,culture and learning, and the implications for elementary teaching and learning. Purpose and Significance of the Study The purpose of this study was to explore and document the impact of integrating identity development and culturally relevant theoretical and pedagogical knowledge into an elementary teacher education programto more effectively prepare pre-service teachers to address the academic challenges of African American students living in urban communities.This study documented and analyzed the cultural identity development of

5 five African American elementary pre-service teachers,the influence of CRPT Intervention Sessions on their identity development,and the impact of identity changes on the pre-service teachers’ use of culturally relevant teaching practices with African American students. Tatum’s (2000) research on identity development and teacher practice described a recursive relationship between identity development and teacher practices,which suggests the value of integrating both identity development and culturally relevant teaching practices into teacher education programs.She asserted that “Teachers must understand their own racial identity to support the positive development of their students’ racial …identities.They must also engage in racial dialogue among themselves to facilitate student conversation” (p.54). According to Loewen (1995),“African Americans want to see positive images of “themselves” in American history” (p.50).Teacher education programs can contribute to this effort of presenting positive images of the African Diaspora.The findings of Tatum’s (2000) study not only add to the existing research on power,identity development,and culturally relevant or African centered instruction aimed at improving public school education for urban African American students,but also expose these concepts to pre- service teachers and present themwith the skills identified appropriate and effective by Ladson-Billings (1994) and others (Levine,et.al,1995;Murrell,2002).Infusing culturally relevant teaching practices into teacher education programs helps present positive images of African Americans to pre-service teachers which will begin to change their social and academic perceptions of African American culture.Having acquired this

6 knowledge then contributes to their ability to help their students develop positive identities. The potential for African Americans to experience academic success,thus acquiring social,political and economic capital,is possible and is witnessed through the success of many African Americans (Stuckey,1994).Researchers have provided evidence of the success of the African Diaspora (Franklin &Moss,1994;Christian, 1995),including African Americans,who are poets,singers (Mullane,1993),college professors,and business owners (Christian,1995).These examples are reflected in the experiences of those who were descendents of slaves,those who were immigrants,as well as those who were born either to impoverished parents or affluent parents. Unfortunately,there are many underprivileged African Americans living in urban communities who receive substandard education and are unprepared to obtain social, political,or economic upward mobility (MacLeod,1995) even as there are examples of those who have defied similar odds. This study examines the potential for higher education institutions to contribute to improving the academic success of African American students by preparing teachers to teach in urban communities.Examining the relationship between identity development and culturally relevant teaching practices could help to encourage pre-service teachers to infuse positive images along with relevant content and strategy,which will empower African American students.This empowerment will have an impact on the identity development of African American students.Developing identity that is grounded in empowerment has the potential to encourage African American students to adopt behaviors that will help themacquire capital to foster upward mobility.

7 Failing African American students is an epidemic and requires immediate intervention by all levels of government—federal,state,and local—as well as all responsible educators and education professionals.Research supports the need for pre- service teachers to critically examine their identity in the context of their cultural realities of oppression and discrimination,and for themto explore the true history of the African Diaspora in order to become effective teachers of African American students (Burstein & Cabello,1989;Caldwell,Sellers,Bernat,&Zimmerman,2004;Chavez &Guido- DiBrito,1999;Cummins,1995;Danielwicz,2001;Datum,1992;Giddens,2004;Tatum, 2000).Addressing the struggling academic state of African American students living in urban communities from the perspective of teacher identity development adds to the body of knowledge in the field of urban education. Overview of Theoretical Framework This study is grounded in three theoretical perspectives:(1) Freire’s (2002) theory of Critical Consciousness,(2) Cross’ (1991) Racial Identity Development theory,and (3) Ladson-Billings’ (1994) contributions to Culturally Relevant Teaching theory.The combination of these theories appropriately supports the intervention measures applied to developing pre-service teachers who are working with urban African American students. Freire’s (2002) Theory of Critical Consciousness intends for oppressed persons to move beyond what he calls a naïve or passive state of consciousness to one that is active and critical or a critical consciousness.The development of a critical consciousness results in dispositions to overcome social disparities while reforming society to ensure that it is equitable regardless of difference.Freire (2002) insists that this transformation

8 cannot take place until the oppressed are fully aware of their circumstances and the social dynamics that produce their oppressed situations. Cross’ (1991) Nigrescence Model was developed in 1971 as a measure to determine the racial perceptions of African Americans.The Cross Racial Identity Scale (CRIS) was used in this research to measure the identity development in African American participants.Cross (1991) has spent many years studying the identity development of African Americans;however,his original research was based on the assumption that African Americans possessed ideas of self-hatred.He continually revised his theory as research evolved that refuted notions of self-hatred among African Americans. Culturally relevant teaching is defined by Ladson-Billings (1994) as “a pedagogy that empowers students intellectually,socially,emotionally,and politically by using cultural referents to impart knowledge,skills,and attitudes” (p.18).African American students are typically exposed to teaching practices similar to the social oppressions they experience,which typically manifest through the omissions or dilutions of positive or empowering references to their race in formal learning experiences.Ladson-Billings’ (1994) framework provides indicators for culturally relevant teaching instruction and identifies observable,clear,and explicit examples of the culturally relevant teaching practices of pre-service teachers (See Appendix D). Research Methods,Questions,and Definitions Research Methods A current nested approach in participatory action research (Creswell,2003) using case study methods (Wolcott,1990) and ethnographic components (Denzin,1991) were

9 used to collect data for this project.Qualitative data on teacher identity and culturally relevant teaching practices were collected using structured journals,observations, interview sessions,and pre-service teacher debriefing sessions.The Cross Racial Identity Scale (CRIS) (Worrell,Vandiver,&Cross,W.2004) was used to collect quantitative data on identity development and the Culturally Relevant Teaching Practice Inventory,a composite modification of Murry’s (2001) and Ladson-Billings’ (1994) indicators of culturally relevant teaching practices provided quantitative data on pre-service teacher practices.Qualitative data were analyzed using coding and category techniques (Fetterman,1998) and quantitative data supported or countered assertions emerging from the qualitative data. Research Questions This study examines the following research questions: 1.What are pre-service teachers’ perceptions of the value of Culturally Relevant Pre-service Teacher (CRPT) Intervention Sessions? 2.What effects does the inclusion of Culturally Relevant Pre-service Teacher (CRPT) Intervention Sessions have on the identity development of Pre-Service Teachers? 3.What effects does the inclusion of Culturally Relevant Pre-service Teacher (CRPT) Intervention Sessions have on Pre-Service Teachers use of culturally relevant teaching practices? 4.How do pre-service teachers describe their own process for merging identity development and culturally relevant teaching practices?

10 Definition of Terms Culturally Relevant Practices – refers to both curricula content and instructional strategies used by teachers to accommodate African American students (Ladson-Billings, 1994;Madhubuti &Madhubuti,1994). African Americans – refers to descendents of Africa who were born in the United States, and,for the purposes of this research,this refers to students who live in urban communities and attend urban,public schools. African Diaspora - refers to the commonality and history of persons who share an African lineage,identity,and/or history (Welsh-Asante,1994). Pre-service teachers – university students who are enrolled in a teacher education program. Critical Consciousness –acknowledging and accepting the realities of one’s social situations and acting to change unwanted circumstances brought about as a result of those situations (Freire,2002). Cultural Identity – the ideas,beliefs,and norms (Ferdman,1990) of a person based on group membership and individual perception (Germain,2004). Culturally Relevant Pre-service Teacher (CRPT) Intervention Sessions – an extension of the education methods courses lasting for 8 weeks and including reading and discussions of identity development theory,culturally relevant teaching theory,and history of the Diaspora.CRPT Intervention Sessions also included an 8-week practicum,which were conducted simultaneously with reading and discussion activities,and an 8-week student teaching component.

Full document contains 307 pages
Abstract: African Americans living in urban communities are subjected to many disparities including racial discrimination and cultural discontinuities that manifest in public school classrooms. African American students continue to struggle academically and are less likely to attend college, which maintains their impoverished status. This study was designed to investigate how teacher education programs could help improve the academic status of urban African American students. The purpose of this study was to explore and document the results of integrating theoretical and pedagogical knowledge related to identity development and culturally relevant teaching into a teacher education program as an intervention method to more effectively prepare pre-service teachers to teach urban African American students. This study utilized a mixed method concurrent nested approach. Case study methodology and ethnographic components were used to collect data for this project. Quantitative data collection methods included the use of CRIS to collect identity data and the CRTI to collect data on culturally relevant teaching practices. Qualitative data were collected using reflective journals, field notes, observations, interviews, and debriefing sessions. Results of the study indicated that pre-service teachers believed that the intervention activities were beneficial inclusions in their academic program. The sessions helped the African American pre-service teachers understand the relationship between their oppressive experiences and their identity. All pre-service teachers experienced some change in their identity and all pre-service teachers applied some culturally relevant teaching strategies; however, they require additional preparation to apply notions of political expression, sociopolitical critique, and community responsibility. Data also indicated that the pre-service teachers realized that their role as teachers included helping African American students transform their lives. Additionally, there was consistent evidence that suggested that pre-service teachers began to develop a critical consciousness and began to engage in critical action. A very important finding of this research was the discovery of the lack of knowledge that pre-service teachers have about the history of the Diaspora, including African American history.