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Examining teacher beliefs about diverse students through transformative learning: The Common Beliefs Survey and the disorienting dilemma

ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 2011
Dissertation
Author: DeAnna Duncan Grand
Abstract:
As the diversity of America's public school students grows, current and future teachers must be prepared to meet the needs of students who are increasingly different from them ethnically, racially and socio-economically. Research indicates that one of the ways to impact teachers' instructional practices with these and other students is to address problematic teacher beliefs and assumptions around these dimensions. Using the Southern Poverty Law Center's Teaching Diverse Students Initiative's Common Beliefs Survey, this research study explores Mezirow's Transformation Theory as a possibility for addressing these often problematic teacher beliefs. Specifically, the study looks at the research question: What was the nature of Common Beliefs Survey users' disorienting dilemmas (CBS)? The disorienting dilemma is the first step in perspective transformation as outlined in Mezirow's Transformation Theory. The study's participants included teacher educators and graduate and undergraduate education students. Overall, the study affirmed that disorienting dilemmas varied among individuals in terms of intensity; are often emotional in nature; and users' attributes were main contributors to experiencing disorienting dilemmas. The study also indicated that the CBS content helped trigger disorienting dilemmas among most of the study's participants by providing opportunities to reflect on their beliefs and assumptions and by providing information that challenged existing information or knowledge they had.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

LIST OF TABLES

................................ ................................ ................................ .............

iii

LIST OF FIGURES

................................ ................................ ................................ ...........

iv

CHAPTER ONE –

INTRODUCTION

................................ ................................ ...............

1

CHAPTER TWO --

LITERATURE REVIEW

................................ ................................

21

CHAPTER THREE --

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY

.......................

84

CHAPTER FOUR --

CASE STUDIES AND FIN DINGS

................................ ...............

98

CHAPTER FIVE --

DISCUSSION OF FINDIN GS

................................ ......................

182

REFERENCES

................................ ................................ ................................ ...............

268

iv

LIST OF TABLES

TABLE 1 -- TEN PHASES OF TRANSF ORMATIVE LEARNING

................................ .

249

TABLE 2 --

REFLECTIVE DISCOURSE

CONDITIONS

................................ ..............

250

TABLE 3 -- THE INFLUENCES ON ME ZIROW’S EARLY TRANSF ORMATIVE LEARNING THEORY

................................ ................................ ................................ .....

251

TABLE 4 --

ALIGNMENT BETWEEN TE N PHASES OF TRANSFORMATIVE LEARNING AND PROPOSE D TDSI STEPS

................................ ................................ .

252

TABLE 5 --

DATA SOURCES BY RESE ARCH QUESTION

................................ .........

254

TABLE 6 --

MEZIROW’S TRANSFORMA TIVE LEARNING PHASES

MATCHED WITH KING’S LEARNING ACTI VITIES SURVEY STATEM ENTS

................................ ..........

255

TABLE 7 –

PHASES OF CASE ANALY SIS

................................ ................................ ...

256

TABLE 8 –

SAMP LE OF INTERVIEW STAT EMENTS FOR DILEMMA C ATEGORIES ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ .........

257

TABLE 9 –

DEMOGRAPHIC TRAITS B Y PARTICIPANTS WHO H AD VALIDATED DISORIENTING DIL EMMAS AND THOSE WHO DID NOT

................................ .......

258

TABLE 10 --

PARTICIPANT RESPONSE S TO LEARNING ACTIVI TIES SURVEY

....

259

v

LIST OF FIGURES

FIGURE 1 –

CONCEPT MAP:

THE NATURE AND PERSI STENCE OF TEACHER BELIEFS AND THEIR RE LATIONSHIP TO THE TE ACHING AND LEARNING PROCESS

................................ ................................ ................................ ........................

262

FIGURE 2 --

MEZIROW‘S FRAME OF R EFERENCE/MEANING PER SPECTIVE

263

FIGURE 3 --

DIMENSIONS OF INSTRU CTIONAL PRACTICES IN FLUENCED BY TEACHER BELIEFS

................................ ................................ ................................ .......

264

FIGURE 4 --

DIAGRAMMATIC REPRESE NTATION OF THE THREE

TYPES OF REFLECTION, THEIR RE LATED ACTIONS, TRANS FORMATION AND DEPTHS

OF CHANGE ................................ ................................ ................................ .........................

265

FIGURE 5 --

TDSI THEORY OF ACTIO N

................................ ................................ ....

266

FIGURE 6 –

PARTICIPANT SEGMENTS

AND SAMPLING PROCESS ES

..................

267

1

Chapter One –

Introduction

Existing research indicates that teachers‘ beliefs, attitudes and expectations guide their responses towards various students and the beliefs that teachers hold about students often lead to differential treatment and expectations based on students‘ race/et hnicity ( Hinnant , O‘Brien, Ghazarian , 2009; Jussim, 1986; Katz, 1991; Pohan

& Aguilar , 2001 ).

How do t eacher b eliefs i mpact t heir c lassroom p ractices

and how do they impact students‘ opportunities to learn and achieve ?

One

of the primary manifestations o f teacher beliefs in the classroom is that of teacher expectancy (Brophy, 1983; Brophy & Good, 1974; Kerman, 1979; McKown & Weinstein, 2008).

In the years since Brown vs. The Board of Education , achievement gaps have persisted between students of color a nd their more affluent White and Asian peers (Banks, 1995; Ladson - Billings, 1995; McKown & Weinstein, 2008; Villegas, 1991). Teacher expectancy has been proposed as a key contributor to that persistent gap (Guerra & Nelson, 2009; McKown & Weinstein, 2008) . Research shows that a ―host of factors are capable of evoking initial expectations, including physical appearance, race, social class, early performance, ethnicity, sex, speech style and diagnostic label‖ (Jussim, 1986, p. 431) with teachers having high er expectations of achievement for White and Asian - American students than of their African - American and Latino peers (Brophy, 1983; Cooper & Tom, 1984; Hinnant et al., 2009; McKown & Weinstein ,

2008).

According to Pohan &

Aguilar (2001), if schools are going to better serve the needs of students who have not traditionally fared well in the system, then ― low expectations, negative stereotypes, biases/prejudices and cultural misperceptions that are embodied in teachers‘ beli efs need to be identified, challenged and reconstructed ‖

(p.

2

160). One emerging possibility for addressing teacher beliefs is through

the Southern Poverty Law Center‘s Teaching Diverse Students Initiative (TDSi), which has a framework resembling Mezirow‘s

Transformation Theory

framework . TDSi is a free online program designed is to help educators enhance the learning opportunities, especially the quality of teaching, experienced by students of color. TDSi‘s focus is on how educators can improve their prof essional skills, understandings, and dispositions that are especially relevant to the race and ethnicity of their students. One of the key tools of TDSi is the Common Beliefs Survey ( retrieved

from ht tp://www.tolerance.org/tdsi/about_tdsi

on November 10, 2010).

Reconstructing or transforming perspectives is ―the process of becoming critically aware of how and why our assumptions have come to constrain the way we perceive, understand, and feel about our

world; changing these structures of habitual expectation to make possible a more inclusive, discriminating, and integrating perspective; and finally, making choices or otherwise acting upon these new understandings‖ (Mezirow, 1991, p. 167). This transfor mation is the product of transformative learning.

The Transformation Theory

framework provides for deep questioning of one‘s beliefs and attitudes that can change personal and professional behaviors. An approach like this seems theoretically promising w hen it comes to the process of addressing and ,

when necessary ,

changing

teacher beliefs . However, e ducation and cultural competency are both complex and relation - based issues. So, when considering an online transformative learning program that seeks to change teacher beliefs towards ―others , ‖ it is important to understand what program attributes and contextual factors are most

3

associated with creating

a transformative experience

and specifically supporting or

contributing to a disorienting dilemma .

It is also important to understand what user attributes might contribute to subsequent changes in attitudes and behaviors. This study

uses a case

study methodology to bring together two areas of inquiry --

teache r beliefs

and

transformative learning --

by reviewing participant experiences with TDSi‘s primary tool the

Common Beliefs Survey .

Statement of the Problem

By the year 2020, students of color are expected to make up the majority of students in pu blic schools across the country ( Mensah, 2009 ) . This anticipated demographic shift in the student populace ups the ante for closing the existing achievement gaps between students of color and their generally more affluent White and Asian - American peers wh ile ensuring that the teaching workforce can effectively teach all students now and in the future ( Banks, 1995; Ladson - Billings, 1995; McKown & Weinstein, 2008; Pajares, 1992; Villegas, 1991 ).

The current reality is that teachers are one of the most imp ortant school - based variable s

in determining the quality of education and the opportunities to learn that students receive, especially at the early ages (Hinnant, et al. , 2009).

Yet, little is known about what constitutes effective teaching, how to develop effective teachers and how effective teaching actually impacts student achievement ( Hinnant et al., 2009 ).

One area of study related to teacher effectiveness that holds promise

for addressing the achievement gap is that of teacher beliefs, includ ing the nature and persistence of teacher beliefs about race, ethnicity and class (Guerra & Nelson,

2009; Kagan, 1992) .

Teacher Beliefs and I nstructional P ractices

4

What are t eacher b eliefs?

According to Pajares (1992), part of the challenge to studying teacher beliefs is ―definitional problems, poor conceptualizations, and differing understandings of beliefs and belief structures‖ (p. 307). For instance, Kagan (1992) defines teacher belief as a ―particularly provocative form of personal knowledge that i s generally defined as pre -

or in - service teachers‘ implicit assumptions about students, learning, classrooms, and the subject matter to be taught‖ (p. 66). Whereas, Alger (2009) defines teacher beliefs as an extension of a (student) teacher‘s worldview a nd are resistant to change. Bandura (1982) states that beliefs mediate knowledge and action (as cited in Pohan & Aguilar, 2001).

Do teachers‘ beliefs about race, ethnicity and class impact their instructional practices? If so, how? The concept map i n Figure 1

is based on a review of the teacher beliefs literature and illustrates how teacher s‘

beliefs conceptually connect to their classroom practices, and ultimately student opportunities to learn. As illustrated, this connection is dynamic and susceptible to external mediation and intervention. The connection is also affected to varying degrees by the student - teacher interaction (Brophy, 1983; Cooper & Tom, 1984). For some individuals, beliefs are rigid and for others they are malleable (Pajar es, 1992). The pliancy and composition of these beliefs affects the translation of them into classroom practices and often determines the degree to which they can be changed by experience with students and in the profession al

or external interventions (Al ger, 2009; Jussim, 1986). However, as shown in Figure 1

there are a number of factors that can mediate the translation of those beliefs into classroom practice. But, suffice it to say, the degree to which any mediations impact this translation is depende nt on the rigidity of a teacher‘s beliefs (Pajares, 1992).

5

As stated

earlier , research also shows that a ―host of factors are capable of evoking initial expectations, including physical appearance, race, social class, early performance, ethnicity, sex, speech style and diagnostic label‖ (Jussim, 1986, p. 431) with teachers having higher expectations of achievement for White and Asian - American students than of their African - American and Latino peers (Brophy, 1983; Cooper & Tom, 1984; Hinnant et al., 2009;

McKown & Weinstein; 2008). Research also shows that teachers form impressions of students‘ abilities quite early in their interaction with them (Brophy & Good, 1974; Hinnant, et al. 2009; Jussim, 1986). These initial expectations may or may not be accur ate and they may or may not be rigid. These two

dimensions, however, may be points of intervention to help moderate the impact of teachers‘ expectations on student outcomes.

According to Martin Haberman (1991) , when

teachers and school s are engaged in the ―pedagogy of poverty,‖ they are perpetuating the beliefs that children who populate urban classrooms --

and are overwhelmingly poor and minority --

are not really interested in education and are more in need of being controlled and dis ciplined than of being taught and respected (Brown, 2004; LeCompte, 1978; Rist, 1972; Solomon, Battistich, & Horn, 1996). Teacher beliefs and expectations as discussed above stand at the trailhead of a teacher‘s journey with their students. Research show s that it is the foundation upon which their instructional practices are built. As evidence this, Haberman (1991) cites a laundry list of functions that constitute the core practices of urban teachers and the pedagogy of poverty:

Giving grades

Giving information

Asking questions

Giving directions

Making assignments

Monitoring seatwork

Reviewing assignments

Giving tests

Reviewing tests

Assigning homework

Reviewing homework

Settling disputes

Punishing noncompliance

Marking papers

Giving grades (p. 291)

These functions roughly align with the differential treatment discussed above resulting from low teacher expectations of certain students as

identified by Proctor (1984) and others ( Brophy, 1983; Brophy & Good, 1974; Fuchs , Fuchs & Phillips, 1994). There is nothing wrong with these practices in and of themselves. However, taken together and performed to the systematic exclusion of practices that engage students in rich and authentic learning constitute an impoverished edu cational experience for students, or a pedagogy

of poverty (Haberman, 1991). The literature finds these practices predominating in low - track, non - urban classrooms, including English Language Learner classrooms (Anyon, 1981; Callahan, 2005; Delpit, 1995; M cKown & Weinstein, 2008; Oakes, 1992; Page, 1987; Rist, 1972).

Further, the nature of the teaching profession requires teachers to make hundreds of decision every day that affect their students (Kagan, 1992). Many of these decisions are based on teache rs‘ personal beliefs rather than their formal teacher training, or school policies (Pajares, 1992). Therefore, we need to understand the range of beliefs that teachers may have and the extent to which their beliefs influence their classroom decisions and practices (Cooper & Tom, 1984; Pohan & Aguilar, 2001; Vaughta & Castagnob, 2008).

T eachers are also frequently unaware of their beliefs about race, ethnicity and how their beliefs impact their classroom behaviors (Brophy & Good, 1974; Kagan,

7

1992). If teacher beliefs about these things profoundly affect classroom practices --

especially those that discriminate against and disadvantage certain student populations --

then any effort to change practice must help teachers understand and alter their underlyi ng beliefs (Kagan, 1992; Pohan & Aguilar, 2001; Vaughta & Castagnob, 2008). This is not without significant challenge because in - service and pre - service teachers‘ beliefs are enormously resistant to change even in the face of solid disconfirming evidence (Kagan, 1992; Pajares, 1992).

Transformative Learning and Changing Teacher Beliefs

If teachers‘ beliefs are a guiding force in their instructional practices, then changing their practices needs to start with changing their beliefs. Can teacher beliefs , especially those about poor and minority students,

be changed? If so, what affects change in these beliefs? Can transformative learning help change teacher beliefs? As just stated, in - service and pre - service teachers‘ beliefs are enormously resistant to

change even in the face of solid disconfirming evidence (Kagan, 1992). However, the basic premise of this study is that changing teacher beliefs is critical to changing practice (Banks, 1995; Gay & Kirkland, 2003; Guerra & Nelson, 2009; Love & Kruger, 20 05; Kagan, 1992; Ladson - Billings, 1995; Richardson, Anders, Tidwell, & Lloyd , 1991; Villegas , 1991; Webb, 2001). If problematic teacher beliefs about race, ethnicity and socio - economic status are difficult to identify and change, then what are the options for making those changes (Guerra & Nelson; 2009; Pohan & Aguilar, 2001; Richardson et al., 1991; Vaughta & Castagnob, 2008)? Transformative learning holds promise for affecting these types of changes in teacher attitudes.

8

In adulthood, informed decisions require not only awareness of the source and context of our knowledge, values, and feelings but also crucial reflection on the validity of their assumptions or premises. ―Transformative learning refers to the process by which we transform our taken - for - gr anted frames of reference (meaning perspectives, habits of mind, mind - sets) to make them more inclusive, discriminating, open, emotionally capable of change, and reflective so that they may generate beliefs and opinions that will prove more true or justifi ed to guide action‖ (Mezirow 2000, p. 8).

In essence, transformative learning is the process of achieving independent thinking (Merriam, 2004) and seeks to explain the role played by an individual‘s acquired frame of reference, which is central to adult le arning. Fostering ―liberating conditions for making more autonomous and informed choices and developing a sense of self - empowerment is the cardinal goal of adult education‖ ( Mezirow & Associates, 2000 , p. 26) . The theory has been widely adopted for use in adult education (Cranton, 2006) even though there are many questions about how transformative learning works.

For Mezirow (1991), a developmentally advanced meaning perspective is:

More inclusive, discriminati ng, and integrative of experience;

Based upon full information;

Free from both internal and external coercion;

Open to other perspectives and points of view;

Accepting of others a s

equal participants in discourse;

Objective and rational in assessing conten ding arguments and evidence;

Critically reflective of presuppositions and their source and evidence; and

Able to accept an informed and rational consensus as the authority for judging conflicting validity claims (p. 78).

If teachers‘ instructional practic es are impacted by their beliefs and decision - making is a key element of those practices, then these goals of transformative learning may prove a powerful ally in the effort to changing the instructional practices as they

9

related to poor and minority stude nts that are undermining the academic success of these student s . The Southern Poverty Law Center‘s Teaching Diverse Students Initiative (TDSi)

is designed to address these problematic beliefs

and, therefore, provides an opportunity to study transformative

learning, especially the disorienting dilemma .

The Teaching Diverse Students Initiative

Can teacher beliefs be changed through online experiences? This is the question that the Southern Poverty Law Center sought to answer by commission ing

the creation of the Teaching Diverse Students Initiative. The

initiative is designed to help educators enhance the learning opportunities, especially the quality of teaching, experienced by student s

of color. This online, research - based Initiative

places primary emphasis on practices within teachers' immediate control —

instructional practices . Of first and foremost importance to the Initiative, however, is students‘ academic learning. Within that context, TDSi also emphasizes ―strategies that ha ve the potential to reduce bias and prejudice‖ ( retrieved from http://www.tolerance.org/tdsi/about_tdsi November 10 , 2010 ).

The following tools are available through TDSi

and can be used together or separately (see Appendix A

for descriptions of the tools):

Understanding the Influence of Race

Common Beliefs Survey

Primer on Culturally Responsive Pedagogy

Case - based Learning Modules

Teaching Diverse Students School Sur vey

According to the TDSi website, one or more tools might be used to address the specific goals of a workshop, teacher study group, university course, district professional development program, or individual educator ( retrieved from http://www.tolerance.org/tdsi/about_tdsi November 10 , 2010 ). These tools are

10

accompanied by learning resources that provide knowledge and counsel. Those resources include: video; TDSi - developed text; articles and reports; excerpts from articles and book chapters; learning activities; references for further study. In addition to these resources, TDSi provides a facilitators‘/instructors‘ guide for each tool. These guides focus on how best to use the t ools and resources and include substantive discussion of issues being addressed.

TDSi‘s development process began with surveys of leading researchers and research literature reviews, which led to the identification of priorities about what educators needed

to know and be able to do to improve the learning opportunities of students of color. A team of researchers and expert teachers then developed the tools and resources for the site ( retrieved from http://www.tolerance.org/tdsi/about_tdsi

November 10 ,

2010 ).

There is an on - going process of review and update in place for the site.

When considering elements of Mezirow‘s Tran s formative Learning Theory, especially the disorienting dilemma,

an initiative such as TDSi provides an opportunity for a close examination of the phenomenon.

That TDSi and the CBS are available online creates an opportunity for reaching larger numbers of educators and related professionals and transforming their per spectives about diverse students. The online format also allows for constant access by users and ongoing updates and improvements by TDSi administrators to keep the content relevant to users and aligned with current research about teaching diverse student s.

Purpose of the Study

This dissertation is focused on examining teachers‘ belief s

about their student s

who are ethnically, racially and/or socio - economically different from themselves .

Using

11

the transformative learning framework, the study

will specifically explore the phenomenon of the disorienting dilemma by studying the experiences of a sample of education students who have used the Common Beliefs Survey (CBS).

The study for this dissertation uses a combination of survey, interview an d case study techniques to collect ,

analyze, and report the data from three different types of respondents: teacher educators; cohorts of the teacher educators‘ students who experience d

the CBS in a facilitate d

environment; and undergraduate students who experience d

the CBS in an unfacilitated environment. The study will also explore variables that may contribute to CBS users‘ disorienting dilemma. The particular variables in question are CBS content, course facilitation and user attributes.

Study Rati onale

Although research shows that there is a pressing need to address potentially problematic beliefs of educators in the effort to improve minority student academic outcomes and close the achievement gaps, there are not a lot of programs in the marketpl ace, especially free programs ,

to do so. The Teaching Diverse Students Initiative is unique in this regard. It is both online and free to users. However, that does not absolve it of the need to test its impact on users.

Given the potential of TDSi to

transform educators‘ beliefs as they relate to teaching diverse students and given the importance of the Common Beliefs Survey to that process, it is important to understand CBS users‘ experiences and the impact the tool has on them. TDSi is a fairly new

program, which launched in 2007 and there are not a lot of data about its overall impact on users much less the impact of the CBS. To date, there are over 7, 8 00 registered TDSi users and the program‘s administrators know very little about

12

how it is being

used and, more importantly, what impact it is having on changing beliefs. This lack of information extends to the impact of the CBS , specifically .

The Common Beliefs Survey is a key tool for TDSi. It provides a gateway for users‘ to enter into a proc ess of critical reflection about their beliefs and exploration of resources to help transform their perspectives. Theoretically, its purpose aligns with Mezirow‘s (1991) concept of a disorienting dilemma as the ―kick - off‖ to the process of perspective tra nsformation and transformative learning for in - service and pre - service teachers, teacher educators, counselors, education support professionals and school administrators. So, the CBS provides an opportunity to study the disorienting dilemma, which is an e ssential first step in the transformative learning process

and needs more research to help understand its dimensions and possible triggers.

Therefore , this study examines the experiences of previous CBS users as well as those of a group of participants in controlled conditions . The units of analysis for the s tudy are the individual users.

By using the research base for transformative learning, this study provides an opportunity to look closely at a sample of users‘ encounters

with the Common Beliefs Surve y

to detect and robustly describe disorienting dilemmas.

Hence, this study will look at the disorienting dilemma in the context of the Common Beliefs Survey to help advance the research base on transformative learning, along with providing TDSi with fee dback on one of its key tools.

The data and finding s

generated through this study will not only add to the body of knowledge

about the disorienting dilemma . While the sample of users in this study are by no means representative of past, present of future

CBS users,

13

their individual and collective experiences may also provide TDSi administrators with information about how to make the tool more robust and impactful

in this regard .

Through his review of research related to transformative learning, Taylor (2 000) identified four general foci that formed the basis of his recommendations for the direction of future research

on the phenomenon . They include theoretical comparisons, in - depth component analysis

(including the disorienting dilemma) , strategies for f ostering transformative learning, and the use of alternative methodological designs. As such, this study align s

with

at least one of

Taylor‘s research recommendations

in - depth component analysis .

Research Questions

The c hain of r easoning used to design this

study is as follows:

A disorienting dilemma is the first step in Transformative Learning.

TDSi ‘s structure aligns with the theoretical framework for transformative learning.

The Common Beliefs Survey (CBS) aligns theoretically with the disorienting dilemma in transformative learning .

Transformative learning, while an attractive framework for tools/processes to help change problematic teacher beliefs, is missing data on some of its key components, including the disorienting dilemma.

Therefore,

given the theoretical alignment between the CBS and the disorienting dilemma, users‘ experiences with the CBS will provide an opportunity to examine this important component of transformative learning.

Hence, the primary research questi on for the study was : What was the nature of CBS users‘ disorienting dilemmas ?

14

Cases for this study were selected based on the detection of a disorienting dilemma in participants‘

responses , and a secondary question or case issue (Stake, 2006) for this study was : What variables may have contributed to their disorienting dilemmas?

Study Outli ne

To explore

the primary research question, this study use d

a multiple case study design. For data collection, the study used surveys , user logs,

and participant interviews to explore three cohorts of education students‘ beliefs about teaching diverse students and their experiences using the Common Beliefs Survey (CBS).

Specifically, King‘s ( 1998 )

Learning Activities Survey was used to detect the

existence of a disorienting dilemma related

to participants‘ use of the CBS. The surveys were followed up by in - depth phone interviews with participants to probe their CBS

experiences and tease out the qualities and dimensions of their reactions to the C BS

that indicated a disorienting dilemma and other phases of transformative learning .

Two cohorts experienced the CBS in a facilitated course. A third cohort of students went through the CBS in an unfacilitated environment and recorded

their responses to

each of the common beliefs and the learning resources attached to each belief

in a log . These students were also interviewed by phone about their CBS experiences.

Prior to the student recruitment and interviews , a

group of teacher educators were intervie wed about their use of the CBS in their courses and their students‘ reactions vis a vis

the survey. The teacher educators were also questioned about the ways in which they facilitated their students‘ interactions with the CBS, including the learning envir onment they created for their students within the course, the level of trust between themselves

15

and their students during the course, and specific activities related to the CBS. Two of the instructors were able to recruit students

to participate in this s tudy.

Cases for the study were selected from among all three cohorts of student participants based on whether or not a disorienting dilemma was detected and validated through analyses of their survey responses , logs

Full document contains 288 pages
Abstract: As the diversity of America's public school students grows, current and future teachers must be prepared to meet the needs of students who are increasingly different from them ethnically, racially and socio-economically. Research indicates that one of the ways to impact teachers' instructional practices with these and other students is to address problematic teacher beliefs and assumptions around these dimensions. Using the Southern Poverty Law Center's Teaching Diverse Students Initiative's Common Beliefs Survey, this research study explores Mezirow's Transformation Theory as a possibility for addressing these often problematic teacher beliefs. Specifically, the study looks at the research question: What was the nature of Common Beliefs Survey users' disorienting dilemmas (CBS)? The disorienting dilemma is the first step in perspective transformation as outlined in Mezirow's Transformation Theory. The study's participants included teacher educators and graduate and undergraduate education students. Overall, the study affirmed that disorienting dilemmas varied among individuals in terms of intensity; are often emotional in nature; and users' attributes were main contributors to experiencing disorienting dilemmas. The study also indicated that the CBS content helped trigger disorienting dilemmas among most of the study's participants by providing opportunities to reflect on their beliefs and assumptions and by providing information that challenged existing information or knowledge they had.