Award Date

2009

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Teacher Education

Department

Curriculum & Instruction

Advisor 1

Sandra Odell, Committee Chair

Advisor 2

Steven McCafferty, Committee Chair

First Committee Member

John Butcher

Graduate Faculty Representative

Kathleen Krach

Number of Pages

199

Abstract

While in theory, democratic ideals promise the equal participation of all its citizens in the decisions that affect them, in practice some populations, i.e., those who do not possess membership to the dominant cultural group, often miss out on the privileges a democratic society is supposed to ensure. Critical theorists pointed out that "democracies like ours exhort equal opportunity but often ignore ways in which our schools operate unconsciously and unknowingly to guarantee that there will be no real equality" (McLaren, 2007, p. 176). In the education arena, inequitable treatment has received significant attention, perhaps due to the glaring repercussions such treatment has on children. For example, the Committee on Multicultural Education of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, AACTE (2002), called attention to our school systems' failure to address the educational needs of culturally and linguistically diverse students. This study focused on linguistically diverse students, also referred to as learners of English as a second Language (L2).

In order for teacher educators to prepare teachers who are able to meet the needs of L2 learners, they must have access to several types of information, including what characterizes an effective teacher for L2 learners. In 1996, Garcia conducted a review of such characteristics, among which he identified disposition and affect. Many agree that teachers' dispositions and affective views, also referred to as attitudes , influence teaching practice (e.g., Pajares, 1992; Pohan, 1994; Reeves, 2006; Richardson, 1996; Stuart & Thurlow, 2000). In research, teachers' attitudes have been construed differently. This study evaluated teachers' attitudes based on their alignment with the ideals of democratic education, which include equality, participation, access, and opportunity. Due to the absence of research defining attitudes in this way, and the paucity of quantitative measurement in the area of teachers' attitudes toward L2 learners, this study's goals were (1) to design and validate a quantitative instrument to measure teachers' attitudes toward L2 learners; (2) to describe teachers' personal and professional attitudes, in this case, attitudes toward immigration and attitudes toward L2 learners, respectively; and (3) to compare personal and professional attitudes of various demographic groups within the participant pool.

Results indicated that the survey designed for this study was valid and reliable. Findings also showed that nearly one third ( n = 51) of participants had somewhat negative to negative attitudes toward immigration and one fifth ( n = 32) of participants had somewhat negative to negative attitudes toward L2 learners. Considering also the demographic characteristics found to be related to more inclusive attitudes, two main recommendations were made for teacher education: (1) teachers should have second language-related experience, such as foreign language study, and (2) teacher preparation that informs candidates about immigration in the U.S., as well as education about best methods for teaching L2 learners in the mainstream classroom, is essential. This study's results also led to several suggestions for future qualitative and quantitative research in this area.

Keywords

Critical pedagogy; Democratic education; English as a second language; English language learners; Equal access; Equal education opportunities; Immigration; Mainstreaming; Professional development; Second language learners; Surveys; Teacher attitudes; Teacher candidates

Disciplines

Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | Teacher Education and Professional Development

Language

English


Share

COinS