Citation
The impact of professional development on teacher attitudes and school climate

Material Information

Title:
The impact of professional development on teacher attitudes and school climate
Creator:
Leith, Lisa M
Copyright Date:
2006
Language:
English
Physical Description:
xii, 154 pages : illustrations ; 29 cm.

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Multicultural education ( lcsh )
Classroom environment ( lcsh )
School environment ( lcsh )
Teachers -- Training of ( lcsh )
Teachers -- Attitudes ( lcsh )
Classroom environment ( fast )
Multicultural education ( fast )
School environment ( fast )
Teachers -- Attitudes ( fast )
Teachers -- Training of ( fast )
Genre:
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

Notes

Abstract:
This dissertation research study offers a mixed-method approach to investigation of the impact of a multicultural professional development program designed to provide information and strategies from best practice literature for meeting the needs of at-risk students. The professional development design included an informational workshop followed by three case-based, collaborative exercises intended to encourage application of the workshop principles to actual students in the school environment. The impact of this program on teacher attitudes towards cultural diversity and teacher sense of responsibility to meet student needs was investigated using a repeated measure administration of the Teacher Multicultural Assessment Survey (TMAS). In addition, the impact of such a program on student perceptions of school climate was explored through administration of a pre and post-intervention school climate survey (n=1679). The professional development was administered to teachers (n=209) in two middle schools and one high school in a small southeastern city over the course of a single school year. Teacher focus groups were conducted in each school at the conclusion of the study. The qualitative results of this study indicate that teachers do implement new ideas and behaviors in classroom practice. Quantitative data suggest that teacher attitudes towards diversity can improve during the course of a single school year and that student perceptions of school climate may be positively impacted by teacher participation in professional development activities which offer strategies for building inclusive classroom and school environments and tools for supporting all students towards academic success.
Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references (pages141-154).
General Note:
School of Education and Human Development
Statement of Responsibility:
by Lisa M. Leith.

Record Information

Source Institution:
|University of Colorado Denver
Holding Location:
|Auraria Library
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
887844020 ( OCLC )
ocn887844020

Related Items

Related Item:
Impact of professional development on teacher attitudes and school climate.

Full Text
THE IMPACT OF PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT ON
TEACHER ATTITUDES AND SCHOOL CLIMATE
By
Lisa M. Leith
B.A., University of the Incarnate Word, 1976
M.B.A., University of the Incarnate Word, 1988
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
Educational Leadership and Innovation
2006



2006 by Lisa M. Leith
All rights reserved.


This thesis for the Doctor of Philosophy
degree by
Lisa M. Leith
has been approved
by
/ /- O Date


Leith, Lisa, M. (Ph.D., Educational Leadership and Innovation)
The Impact of Professional Development on Teacher Attitudes and School Climate
Thesis directed by Associate Professor Nancy L. Shanklin
ABSTRACT
This dissertation research study offers a mixed-method approach to
investigation of the impact of a multicultural professional development program
designed to provide information and strategies from best practice literature for
meeting the needs of at-risk students. Hie professional development design
included an informational workshop followed by three case-based, collaborative
exercises intended to encourage application of the workshop principles to actual
students in die school environment.
The impact of this program on teacher attitudes towards cultural diversity
and teacher sense of responsibility to meet student needs was investigated using a
repeated measure administration of the Teacher Multicultural Assessment Survey
(TMAS). In addition, the impact of such a program on student perceptions of
school climate was explored through administration of a pre and post-intervention
school climate survey (n=1679). The professional development was administered
to teachers (n=209) in two middle schools and one high school in a small


southeastern city over the course of a single school year. Teacher focus groups
were conducted in each school at the conclusion of the study.
The qualitative results of this study indicate that teachers do implement new
ideas and behaviors in classroom practice. Quantitative data suggest that teacher
attitudes towards diversity can improve during the course of a single school year
and that student perceptions of school climate may be positively impacted by
teacher participation in professional development activities which offer strategies
for building inclusive classroom and school environments and tools for supporting
all students towards academic success.
This abstract accurately represents the content of this candidates thesis. I
recommend its publication.


DEDICATION
This work is dedicated to my grandson, Eric. May every teacher he
encounters have the eyes and heart to delight in the keen intelligence, deep
compassion, sweet spirit, and the thousand other gifts that are uniquely his.


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
I want to thank my advisor and committee chairperson, Nancy L. Shanklin
for her consistent guidance, wisdom, support and good humor during this process.
Thank you, also, to my committee members Judy Duffield, Dorothy Garrison-
Wade and Donna Sobel for supporting, editing and guiding this work.
Thank you to my family, to Jessica, Jordan and Dave for your love and
encouragement and for believing the best of me. Thank you to Bob and Sherry for
always being there to listen and to offer encouragement and advice. Thank you to
my grandchildren: Eric and Emily and Evan for being such a constant source of joy
and inspiration.
I am grateful for the support and friendship of my friends and colleagues at
the National Association of Street Schools.
I thank God for the amazing grace and mercy that covers my life.
Finally, I want to thank my husband for his companionship and steadfast
love and for sharing the Joy in this journey.


TABLE OF CONTENTS
Figures..........................................................xi
Tables...........................................................xii
CHAPTER
1. INTRODUCTION.................................................1
Problem Statement..........................................1
Theoretical Framework......................................4
Significance of the Study..................................8
2. REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE......................................11
Recurrent Themes in the Literature........................12
Teacher Attitudes and Beliefs.......................16
Curriculum Content and Materials....................18
Instructional Approaches............................20
School Climate..................................... 21
Common Focus or Mission............................ 22
Trust and Relationships........................... 23
Small Schools.......................................26
Collaborative Cultures..............................28
Professional Development..................................30
viii


Multicultural Education in Professional Development.31
Case-Based Professional Development.................36
Schools in Reform: Research to Practice.............39
Conclusions and Implications for Research..................41
3. METHODOLOGY...................................................45
Research Questions.........................................45
Subjects...................................................46
Study Design............................................... 48
Components of Initial Workshop.............................51
Format of Teacher Collaborations...........................53
Changes Made to Professional Development Design............54
Data Collection............................................55
Quantitative Instruments............................56
Qualitative Data Collection.........................59
Minimizing Subject Risk.............................60
Data Analysis..............................................61
4. RESULTS.......................................................65
Overview...................................................65
Research Questions and Study Hypotheses....................65
Quantitative Data..........................................66
Teacher Multicultural Assessment Survey.............67
ix


Student Opinion Survey...............................72
Qualitative Data...........................................75
Focus Group Data Analysis............................76
The Focus Group Questions............................89
5. CONCLUSIONS & IMPLICATIONS FOR FUTURE RESEARCH ..92
Conclusions................................................92
Limitations of the Study...................................96
Recommendations for Future Research........................98
Authors Note.............................................104
APPENDIX...............................................................107
A. Construct Definitions........................................108
B. Workshop Slide Presentation..................................Ill
C. Case Collaboration Worksheet.................................129
D. Teacher Multicultural Attitude Survey (TMAS).................133
E. Opinion Survey for Students (OSS)............................135
F. Family Informational Letter..................................138
G. Teacher Consent Letter.......................................139
REFERENCES
141


LIST OF FIGURES
Figure
1.1 Theoretical Framework Graphic..................................7,95
3.1 Population of Research City.......................................46
4.1 Teacher Demographic Chart.........................................69
4.2 Student Demographic Chart.........................................73
XI


LIST OF TABLES
Table
2.1 Related Constructs .............................................14
3.1 Research Project Timeline and Activities .......................64
4.1 Demographic TMAS Total/TMAS Difference Outlier Included ........69
4.2 Demographic TMAS Total/TMAS Difference Outlier Removed.........69
4.3 TMAS Mean Score Difference Across Schools ......................70
4.4 TMAS ANOVA Table.................................................71
4.5 School Climate Total and Demographic Data Pearson Correlation....73
4.6 School Climate Total Across Schools..............................74
4.7 School Climate ANOVA Table...................... ...............75
4.8 Quantitative Data Summary .....:................................76
xii


CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION
Problem Statement
A demographic shift in the United States has resulted in racially and
ethnically diverse public school classrooms, particularly in the 100 largest school
districts. In 2003, 69% of students in these districts were reported to be non-white
(National Center for Education Statistics, 2005). As the student population in the
nations public schools becomes increasing multi-ethnic, the percentage of minority
teachers in these schools remains relatively static (Hodgkinson, 2002). It is evident
that this disparity can create a cultural gap between minority students and their
predominately white, middle class teachers which can negatively influence student
achievement (Hertzog & Adams, 2001; Ladson-Billings, 2000; Sleeter, 2001).
In addition to increasing in ethnic diversity, the public school student
population in the United States is becoming more transient, and the number of poor
children continues to grow (Hodgkinson, 2002). Poverty means a child is more
likely to suffer from lack of medical care, poor nutrition, and minimal early
learning assistance; and these factors, in turn, can have an influence on lack of
preparedness and support for success in school (Payne, 1998).
1


Hodgkinsons work, (2002) indicates that the rising number of children
who live in poverty and the increasing transience of the American population
compound the difficulties faced by teachers and principals in providing for the
educational needs of these children. As evidence, he cites direct relationships
between high crime rates, low state graduation rates, and impoverished and
transient populations in low performing states such as Texas and Arizona.
Unfortunately, evidence indicates that children who belong to the racial, ethnic and
socio-economic groups which have been historically underserved in the public
school system are more vulnerable to school failure and underachievement than
their middle-class, white peers (Abdal-Haqq, 1999; Artiles, Trent, Hoffman-Kipp,
and Lopez-Torrez, 2000).
The term at-risk has been associated with these students who are more
likely than the general population of their peers to experience academic failure
(Henderson-Sparks, 2002). They often attend urban schools and, on average, score
lower on standardized tests, demonstrate lower literacy and mathematical skill
levels, and are more likely to drop out of school. Ultimately, they are more likely to
be unemployed, to become single parents, to be imprisoned, and to depend upon
public assistance (National Center for Education Statistics, 2005). Factors such as
limited English proficiency, poverty, race, and geographic location have been
associated with a higher risk of this low academic performance and its life-long
2


outcomes (Office of Educational Research and Improvements National Institute,
2002). It is important to note that students whose profile includes one or more of
these factors are also more likely than their peers to attend low performing, under-
financed schools, and to be taught by inexperienced or non-certified teachers
(Bowers, 2000).
Weiner (2002) cautions against the tendency by teacher educators and those
involved in urban reform efforts to oversimplify causal relationships, the resulting
student outcomes, and also the potential solutions to the chronic inability of our
public schools to meet the academic needs of their growing diverse student
populations. Her contention is that we have the responsibility to invest the time
needed to develop complex, many-faceted prescriptions, in spite of the cost and
difficulties associated with their implementation. One prescription, for which there
is strong evidence to warrant specific focus, is that of building teacher capacity,
through professional development, particularly in field-based, experiential
programs (Colombo, 2004). This application, case-based approach has promise as
an effective intervention for improving student outcomes in high-need, urban
environments (Cooter, 2003; Voltz, Brazil, and Scott, 2004). In fact, it has been
suggested that increasing teacher competence and capacity is the most influential
school-based intervention for improving outcomes for educationally at-risk
students (Darling-Hammond, 1999; Denson, 2001).
3


Theoretical Framework
Teachers need specific instruction and practice in developing and
implementing curricular and pedagogical strategies which meet the special needs of
each unique population of students for which they are responsible (Banks et al.,
2001; Ladson-Billings, 2000; White-Clark, 2005). In fact, NCATE (2006)
mandates that teacher education programs include diversity training as a core
program component. According to Ladson-Billings (2000), this instruction must
focus outside the common deficit paradigm so often employed in discussions
about educational programs for individual ethnic or racial minority students, which
can negatively influence teacher expectations for the academic achievement of
these students. There is evidence that teacher expectations and behavior strongly
influence student self-efficacy and subsequent performance (Skinner & Belmont,
1993). Because teacher beliefs and expectations, particularly low expectations,
influence student outcomes, professional development programs should guide
teachers towards positive and realistic perspectives of themselves and their
students.
Culturally sensitive curricular content, instructional approaches and school
settings are important to meeting the needs of a diverse population of students
(Banks, 1998; Ladson-Billings, 1999). Building teacher capacity so that at-risk
students are taught by well-trained teachers can improve important indicators of
4


student achievement, such as reading levels (Baskin, 2003). Teachers need
ongoing professional development and support to guide them towards the cultural
competence that will allow them to master the implementation of effective
educational strategies. These professional development efforts should focus upon
increasing the sensitivity and competence of white teachers and teacher candidates
to function effectively in diverse classrooms (Howard, 1999).
Teachers also play a critical role in the development of a positive school
and classroom climate. Organizational theory has long acknowledged the
relationship between organizational climate and culture and the effectiveness of
that organization to serve its members and its mission (Shafritz & Ott, 1996). This
is true of educational organizations as well. School culture and climate are
recognized to have a major influence on student engagement, retention, attitudes
and academic achievement (Finn, 1989; Fullan, 2000; Shulla-Cose & Day, 2004;
Steele, 1992; Way, 2003). They also influence teacher attitudes toward^ their own
learning, and teacher motivation and engagement in the community of the school
(Bryk & Schneider, 2002; Rafferty, 2003).
When teachers share the common goal of meeting the needs of every
student in their classrooms through a collaborative focus on personal learning and
development, the whole school climate can be positively impacted (Voltz, et al.,
2004). This is particularly the case when teachers are supported by a principal who
5


leads by example through a commitment to his or her own growth (Zepeda, 2005).
Principals and teachers need on-going opportunities to participate in professional
development programs, designed to support these goals, which provide specific
strategies for creating engaging, culturally responsive instructional design in a
relational and individualized context.
Figure 1.1 illustrates a connection between effective professional
development, that which changes teacher attitudes and practice and impacts school
climate, and student outcomes. The framework suggests that professional
development intervention should be designed to build cultural competence while
impacting teacher beliefs. This change in teacher beliefs should raise expectations
for student outcomes. This intervention is further hypothesized to exert a positive
influence on subsequent student outcomes. A graphic representation of this
framework is included below as Figure 1.1.
6


Poverty
Minority
Disability
Lav Academic
Attanmmtcf
Parents

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT ^ Teachers competent to teach to ^ diversity j
INDIVIDUALIZED
RELATIONAL
ENGAGING
RESPONSIVE
CONSTRUCTIVE
COLLABORATIVE
( 'N
Teachers and Imprmed
Students etfiibit Academic
high dictations Outcomes
V J
Figure 1.1 Theoretical framework graphic
It is difficult to determine what constitutes effective, culturally responsive
professional development from the available research base (Artiles et al., 2000;
Ladson-Bfilings, 1995; Zeichner, 1993). In fact, after thoroughly reviewing over
thirty years of teacher education research, Sleeter (2001) states, "Intuitively, it
makes sense to assume that pre-service students who are taught something about
7


culture and race will become better teachers in multicultural contexts than those
who are not, but the research has not been designed to investigate this assumption."
(p. 96). As suggested by Webb-Johnson, Artiles, Trent, Jackson, and Velox (1998),
more research is needed that investigates the impact of multicultural professional
development programs on resulting teacher effectiveness in diverse classrooms.
Their analysis is that current research data offers mixed results and inconclusive
findings, and so does little to inform the creation of effective professional
development programs. For this reason, more research is needed which
investigates the impact of specific professional development content and design on
teachers attitudes towards diversity, their sense of responsibility towards meeting
the needs of all students in their classrooms, and on school climate.
Significance of the Study
This study is designed to provide further insight into the elusive connection
between professional development and teacher attitudes and behaviors, particularly
when teachers are faced with the challenge of meeting the needs of a diverse
student population. More specifically, this study investigates the impact of a case-
based, collaborative professional development program on teacher perceptions of
cultural diversity and teacher sense of responsibility to address the diverse teaching
and learning issues in their classrooms.
8


Data point to an economic and racial achievement gap that is evident in
school districts across the United States (Hendrie, 2004). Positive educational
outcomes, including high school graduation and college enrollment are less likely
for children who do not belong to the dominant culture. Further, racial and socio-
economic gaps in student test scores are often wider in schools where teachers
express a preference for teaching children of white-collar parents (Viadero, 2006).
Teacher attitudes and beliefs play a critical role in the educational success or failure
experienced by their students. The significance of this study lies in its potential to
guide those who design and deliver professional development towards more
effective programs to build teacher capacity for culturally responsive, positive
attitudes and practice and, ultimately, to improve student outcomes.
According to Guskey & Sparks (2002), professional development that will
influence student outcomes must not only include relevant, critical content, but
must also be delivered with attention to engaging and real world delivery and to the
setting and context in which it is delivered. The design of this studys professional
development workshop and case study collaborations reflects these components.
The professional development program includes an informational workshop
defining current literature around best practices for meeting the needs of students
who may be at risk. It includes elements of each of the constructs identified in the
literature review, found in Chapter 2, as important to changing student outcomes.
9


Teachers engaged in three case-based collaboration exercises following the
workshop, spaced over a five-month period. These were designed to stimulate
dialogue regarding the application of the workshop strategies towards meeting the
specific needs of students in their classrooms who were identified as potentially at-
risk. Teachers viewed a fifteen to thirty-minute presentation offered by the
researcher that reinforced the concepts and strategies offered in the first workshop.
After this presentation, teachers met in teams of five to twenty for approximately
one hour and were guided by the researcher through a case-based examination of
the strengths and challenges of the student being evaluated. Teachers then
identified appropriate strategies to support this student academically, behaviorally
and socially.
To examine the connection between multicultural professional development
on teacher attitudes and resulting behavior, changes in student perceptions of
school climate are also investigated. These were tested through a pre and post-
intervention Opinion Survey for Students (OSS). It is hypothesized that the studys
professional development program would positively influence teacher self efficacy,
comfort with, and sense of responsibility for the needs of the diverse learners in
their classrooms and that this would manifest in student perceptions of improved
school climate.
10


CHAPTER2
REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE
A review of the literature on educational reform to improve the academic
outcomes of at-risk students reveals that much educational research has focused on
the identification of factors that contribute to the at-risk student profile (Weiner,
2002). The focus of educational research has also been to identify research-based
school organization and reform models which can be reproduced across school
environments to influence student outcomes (McPartland, Balfanz, Jordan &
Legters, 1998; Phillips, 2003; Shulla-Cose & Day, 2004). Just as the factors
contributing to risk are varied and often intertwined, reform recommendations often
begin with lists of interrelated initiatives that require whole-school and even whole-
community commitment to systemic change (Ferguson, Kozleski & Smith, 2001;
Fullan, 1996; Cuban, 1990). What appears to be absent from this approach to
reform is consideration for the unique attributes, strengths and challenges of
individual schools, and rarely does it consider the educators role in reaching
solutions. Though there are many external factors that influence student outcomes,
including demographic, economic, and political conditions, the focus of this review
11


is specifically issues of teaching and learning. This review concentrates on what
educators themselves can do to influence these outcomes.
More specifically, this review seeks to answer the following questions:
What does current educational theory and research reveal about the prognosis for
improving academic outcomes for all students and, more specifically, what can
educators do to better serve their educational needs? This review is organized in
terms of recommendations from three research perspectives on school reform and is
synthesized into common factors.
These recommendations include those of Ladson-Billings (1995), Banks
(1998), and the Gates Policy Paper (2003). They are synthesized in terms of
common factors which identify successful school environments. A review of each
of these construct follows, with a particular interest towards identifying
professional development strategies that equip teachers with what they need to
know and the skills and tools they need to have to build classroom and school
environments which support diverse populations of students towards successful
academic outcomes.
Recurrent Themes in the Literature
According to Ladson-Billings (1995), there are five factors that must be
considered when seeking to create educational environments that support all
12


students towards successful outcomes. These include teachers beliefs about
students, curriculum content and materials, instructional approaches, educational
settings, and teacher education. Similarly, Banks (1998) identifies five critical
dimensions of multicultural education: content integration, knowledge construction,
equity pedagogy, prejudice reduction, and creating an empowering school culture
and social structure. The research of the Gates Foundation (Gates Policy Paper,
2003) has identified seven attributes of highly effective schools, recognizing these
attributes as common to schools that work in educating students: common focus,
high expectations, personal relationships with students (advocacy program), respect
and responsibility, time to collaborate (for teachers and others in the school
community), performance-based grade promotion, and use of technology as an
instructional tool. These constructs are analyzed and grouped in terms of the
patterns or themes that emerge from this literature, as demonstrated in the
following Table. A comprehensive description and definition of each of the
constructs is included as Appendix A.
13


Table 2.1 Related Constructs
1 RELATED CONSTRUCTS Things that Matter Dimensions of MC Education Attributes of Effective Schools
Teacher Attitudes and Beliefs Teacher Beliefs Knowledge construction High expectations Respect and responsibility
Professional Development Teacher education Creating an empowering school culture /social structure Time to collaborate
Content and Materials Curriculum content and materials Equity pedagogy Content integration High expectations Performance based promotion
Instructional Design Instructional Approaches Equity pedagogy Use of technology as a tool
School Climate Educational settings Creating an empowering school culture & structure Prejudice reduction Common focus and goals Personal Relationships
*reflect practice and systems thatfit into more than one construct
Five major construct themes are identified in Table 2.1 (see far left
column). Ladson-Billingsthings that matter (1994), Banks dimensions of
multicultural education (1998) and the Gates Policy Paper attributes of effective
schools (2003) are then readily connected to one or more of these constructs.
Banks dimensions and Gates attributes can be seen to define specific examples of
the constructs, filling in the detail, almost answering the questions posed by the
Ladson-Billings categories. For example: What should teachers believe about their
14


students? Banks response might be that teachers need to know a students
knowledge is culturally and socially constructed and that students are motivated by
and capable of meeting high expectations; that they deserve and often positively
respond to being offered respect and responsibility. His premise is that changes in
belief systems must become transformational changes that allow teachers to then
transform the school environment in which they serve.
To further expand this relationship, Ladson-Billings assertion that
curriculum content, materials and instructional approach matter is reinforced by
Banks affirmation that good multicultural curriculum should be chosen through
principles of equity pedagogy, which inspire students to reach attainable, yet high
levels of achievement and be culturally relevant. These should be offered through a
wide variety of instructional methods designed to meet the needs of a diverse
population of learners. It is important to note that Banks believes that this approach
to curriculum and instruction will not only create a learning environment that
enables all students to succeed, but will serve the further purpose of reducing
prejudice and increasing cultural competence in the society of the future (Banks,
1995).
Ladson-Billings things that matter focus primarily on the role of the
classroom teacher; indeed, they are underscored by her more recent and extensive
study of the importance of multicultural competence on teacher effectiveness in
15


diverse settings (Ladson-Billings, 1999), and her subsequent finding that student
outcomes are directly influenced by what teachers believe about students, what
content they teach, the methods employed, the settings where they teach this
content, and how well they are prepared and supported to do these things. A
review of the literature connecting each of these constructs follows.
Teacher Attitudes and Beliefs
Teacher beliefs and subsequent expectations regarding student performance
and ability can have a strong impact on student outcomes (Skinner & Belmont,
1993). Unfortunately, using statistics related to student risk factors as a predictor
of student behavior or developing expectations from these stereotypical profiles can
actually perpetuate the achievement gap that exists in urban schools. Because
student and teacher expectations have a direct influence upon performance (Gay,
2000; Ladson-Billings, 1995; Skinner & Belmont, 1993; Williams, 1996; Zeichner,
1996), the perceptions that this profiling creates can negatively influence teacher
and student behavior. In fact, teacher prejudice and low expectations of minority
students may be one key in the disproportionate representation of these students in
special education programs (Artiles, 1998).
When researchers control for variables such as race and ethnicity in
research design, socio-economic status appears to be the factor most highly
16


correlated with level of academic achievement, including standardized test scores,
high school graduation rate, and post-secondary or vocational outcomes (Arroyo,
Rhoad, & Drew, 1999; Henderson-Sparks, Paredes & Gonzalez, 2002; Natriello,
McDill & Pallas, 1990). Nonetheless, there appears to be a wide-spread tendency
to blame students and their families for their plight, giving rise to a model that
focuses upon cultural deficit,, rather than shifting the responsibility for the success
of these students to the dominant culture educational system, and society itself
(Howard, 1999). Teacher beliefs and perceptions about studentsfrom
generalizations about the urban students ability to learn, to the value (or dilemma)
that diversity brings to a classroom communitydirectly influence student
outcomes (Good & Brophy, 1997).
Conversely, when teachers hold high and realistic expectations for the
academic success of their students, this often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy
(Haberman & Post, 1998). Teacher beliefs affect their own classroom attitude and
behavior as well as those of their students. When teachers believe in their own
ability to teach and in each students ability to learn, they are more likely to be
motivated to invest the additional time and energy it can take to seek out those
resources that will culturally enrich standard curricula and to alter instructional
practices to allow students from many different backgrounds and with a diverse
array of learning styles to become engaged in their classrooms (Zeichner, 1996).
17


Meeting the needs of the diverse learners in todays classrooms is a complex task
fraught with varying viewpoints and potential controversies. If todays educators
are to resolve these issues, they must first work to understand their own beliefs as
well as learn to understand the beliefs of others (Sands, Kozleski & French, 2000).
Curriculum Content and Materials
Understanding the relationship between culture and cognitive approach can
guide teachers in choosing curriculum content and materials that are appropriate for
meeting the individual needs of a diverse population of students. Multicultural
education, as defined by Ladson-Billings, must include multiple cultural
perspectives in every lesson, as well as trade lesson quantity for more in-depth and
analytical lessons on a few well-chosen topics (Ladson-Billings, 1995). This
approach includes the selection of classroom materials and curricula that are
culturally accurate and positively representative of the student culture. Banks
(1995) terms this content integration, and emphasizes the importance of content
that reflects the diversity of the school population. Similarly, Hawley (1996)
stresses the importance of designing classroom instruction to allow students from
many backgrounds to access the content of the lesson. Her premise includes the
notion that teachers who understand their own cultural heritage and subsequent
18


encoding will be better equipped to recognize the impact of a students cultural
background on his or her academic needs.
Banks (1995) recommendation is that teachers begin to truly integrate
multicultural perspectives rather than simply using an additive methodadding
occasional culturally relevant units on top of an otherwise unchanged curriculum.
The goal is social and transformational change rather than simple dissemination of
information. For Banks (1998), this includes respect for the social and cultural
background of each learner and for the definitive role that this background plays in
each learners ability to find meaning within the classroom curriculum. He
believes that teachers and students should be exposed to activities and discussions
that reduce prejudice and which subsequently build empathetic and caring
relationships within the whole school community.
Teacher attitudes and beliefs are important to student outcome because
teachers apply these to assessing which curriculum and instruction methods are
appropriate for their students. Though teachers do not often choose the curriculum
itself or design whole school environments alone, the supplemental resources they
choose, the lesson plans they construct and the classroom climate they build shape
the day-to-day school experience for their students.
19


Instructional Approaches
Rather than relying on traditional teaching methods from their own
schooling experience, teachers should be trained to modify their instructional
approaches to meet the needs of all students. Schools that consistently invest in
professional development programs and focus on strategies for meeting the needs
of a diverse student population produce higher academic results than schools that
do not have these programs (Jones, 2004). Creating lessons that foster cooperative
learning environments where students and teachers share processes of inquiry and
discovery is an effective approach for engaging a diverse classroom of learners
(Brown, 2002; Ladson-Billings, 1994).
Constructivist classrooms that provide opportunities for students to engage
and interact with and reflect upon important concepts improve learning for students
with a wide variety of learning profiles. Constructivist instructional approaches
encourage students to be autonomous learners responsible for their own initiative
and directions for discovery (Brooks & Brooks, 1999). This approach aligns with
principles of equity pedagogy, giving equal access to learning opportunity by
differentiation of learning experience (Banks, 1998). Instructional approaches that
encourage critical thinking and student-directed inquiry can serve effectively to
improve the academic achievement levels of all students, including at-risk student
populations (Arroyo, Rhoad & Drew, 1999; Brown, 2002). Ruby Payne (1998)
20


encourages teachers to explicitly teach students a language of negotiation for
classroom engagement. This language allows students and teachers to share power
in the classroom setting and gives students, particularly students of poverty, a non-
threatening strategy for tackling difficult discussions. Payne emphasizes the
importance of honoring each students personal history, background, experience
and culture while offering a new way of communicating and resolving conflict in
the school setting.
School Climate
At the heart of the factors, dimensions, and attributes in Table 2.1 is the
need for the development of strong relationships within the classroom and within
the school community and the individualizing of each students educational
experience. For this reason, a recurring theme in school reform literature is
recognition of the importance of building a school and a classroom environment
into which an increasingly diverse population of students, and even teachers, can
connect and within which these students see their cultural traditions and histories
represented and valued (Haberman, 1991; Zeichner, 1996).
Students who sense genuine caring in relationships with their teachers
report feeling more contented and more engaged in the classroom (Skinner, 1993).
In fact, high achieving students of poverty most often cite a single strong adult
21


relationship as the primary motivator and catalyst for overcoming obstacles and
attaining academic success (Payne, 1998). Educational settings that support
student success are those that share power across the school community, giving
voice to teachers and students (Banks, 1998), share a common vision and focus and
promote strong relationships between students and adults.
The following section reviews current theory and research connecting
school climate with student engagement, attitudes, academic achievement and
retention. It discusses four factors that can contribute to the positive character of a
schools climate: a common focus or mission, relationships and trust, school size
and a collaborative culture.
Common Focus or Mission. The Gates Policy Paper (2003) identifies a
common mission or focus as one of seven attributes of effective urban schools.
This common focus exists when staff, students, and parents are united by a mission
that all ascribe to and are willing to support, both verbally and through action.
Every action is then guided by this common vision. Both individual and shared
goals are articulated and outcomes are measured and reported to the group. Shared
goals, especially when school communities work together to define them, can
improve relationships and increase trust, in spite of any personal differences of
race, ethnicity, culture, and socio-economic status that may exist. (Wherry, 2004).
22


One way that schools are incorporating a common focus and vision into
their school culture is through character education programs which define values
and character traits that are cross-culturally valued. Exposing students to values
such as freedom, compassion, and justice, which are shared by nearly all cultural
groups, is noted as an essential principle for building a unity in diverse school
cultures (Banks, et al., 2001). Further, commitment to the moral and character
emphasis of a strong belief system has been shown to improve academic outcomes
of both African American and Hispanic students and this correlation may be true
for all students (Jeynes, 2003).
When there is a high regard for relationship and conflict resolution in a
school community, there are likely to be fewer incidences of conflict and violence
within that school (Collins, 2003). Students feel safer and report a higher sense of
belonging to the school culture. Similarly, when schools adopt a proactive rather
than a passive approach to improving inter-group relationships, those relationships
do markedly improve (Soukamneuth, 2004).
Trust and Relationships. Schools that succeed value the development of
strong relationships within the classroom and within the school community (Bryk
& Schneider, 2002; McMahon, Browning & Rose-Colley, 2001; McPartland,
1998). It would seem the more fully a student is known his strengths and
23


challenges, interests and cultural perspectives the more effectively teachers can
facilitate the individualization of each students educational experience. Students
recognize when they are valued as individuals and feel more connected to the
school. These students are more likely to participate in extra curricular activities,
earn better grades and miss fewer school days than students who do not feel cared
for (McNeely, Nonnemaker & Blum, 2002).
However, school relationships may be strained by the cultural disconnect
that often occurs when white middle class teachers enter urban classrooms that are
increasingly populated with impoverished students from diverse racial and ethnic
backgrounds (Delpit, 1995; Howard, 1999). Ladson-Billings (1994,2000)
expresses concern that many urban school settings are still segregated along racial
lines. She believes that the students who attend these schools are being implicitly
taught that inequity is normal because our society continues to provide the
highest quality educational settings for students from certain ethnic, class and racial
backgrounds. Increasing diversity within urban classrooms and the resulting
cultural clash has been cited as a primary cause for failure in urban schools
(Sleeter, 2001).
Teacher attitudes and expectations about students strongly influence student
outcomes because self-esteem is highly correlated to a sense of belonging in school
(Ma, 2002). Bowers (2000) emphasizes the importance of creating a student-
24


centered environment where teachers exhibit a strong belief in student abilities and
will make no allowance or accept no excuse for student failure. Teacher
appreciation of and knowledge about cultural differences enhance teacher ability to
offer instruction that is culturally responsive (Columbo, 2004).
Studies of resiliency in urban students indicate a positive correlation
between resilience and the presence of strong adult relationships in the family or in
the school environment (Johnson, 1997, Kozol, 1997). It seems that academic
achievement cannot be isolated from a students whole developmental profile,
including his or her emotional and social well being (Sanacore, 2001). In fact,
there is evidence that positive adult connections within the school environment can
be an antidote to many other risk factors in these students lives (Edmonds, 1986).
Crosnoe, Johnson and Elder (2004) found a direct correlation between
intergenerational bonding in the school environment (strong student relationships
with staff) and higher academic achievement. The strength of these relationships
was also found to influence student behavior; stronger relationships meant fewer
discipline problems. He found this to be especially important for Hispanic girls,
reinforcing the concept that developing positive student-teacher relationships is
more relevant in diverse settings. Similarly, Honora (2003) reports a relationship
between feelings of alienation from adult members of the adult school community
and lower achievement in African American students. She further concludes that
25


these students tend to focus their efforts in non-academic areas (such as sports)
because of the positive attention these garner.
Small schools. Important relational connections are most readily facilitated
in a small school environment that fosters higher levels of trust among staff,
parents, and students (Bryk & Schneider, 2002). In a large school setting, teacher-
student relationships are more difficult to develop and discipline is more difficult to
enforce (McPartland, Balfanz, Jordan & Legters, 1998). An initiative to increase
the number of small schools providing education for at-risk students found that in
almost every indicator of school climate, teachers and students from small schools
were more positive than their counterparts in larger schools (SRI International,
2003). Students in small schools feel more connected to the school and this
connection can lead to better student outcomes (McNeely, et al., 2002). Small
schools are able to focus more individualized attention on students and to hold
them accountable for their academic progress than are large schools, resulting in
student outcomes at these schools which are more successful than those of larger
schools (Toch, 2003).
In a review of more than 100 studies and evaluations, Cotton (2001)
concluded that academic achievement in small schools is at least equal, and often
superior, to that of large schools. She also found that attendance is better in small
schools and students tend to drop out at a lower rate than those at large schools.
26


Toch (2003) suggests a new way of thinking about secondary education through the
expansion of the small high school concept. Another aspect of school size is the
potential for overcrowding. Particularly in schools with a high poverty rate,
overcrowding is prevalent and problematic, proving to have a negative impact on
student learning and outcomes (Burnett, 1995).
School-within-schools initiatives are working to recreate small school
advantages within a large school environment (McAndrews & Anderson, 2002).
Some concern has arisen over the potential for these schools to begin to value
relationship over academic achievement. However, McAndrews and Anderson
report early data indicating these schools have demonstrated the ability to increase
attendance, reduce dropout rates, improve test scores and increase student academic
and social self perceptions after the large school has been subdivided into smaller
school communities.
Although teachers can do little to influence school size, it would seem that
an understanding of the relational and instructional advantages of the small school
environment could assist teachers and their principals in finding creative ways to
employ small school strategies within their larger context. For example,
understanding the importance of relationships that are more easily developed in the
small school environment, teachers might create smaller, collaborative work groups
within a large classroom setting to foster these relationships.
27


In spite of the promise of the small school initiative to increase school
options and to close the learning gap, there is evidence that negative impacts of the
small school movement might outweigh advantages (Bloomfield, 2006). Critics
cite the selectivity and cherry picking that occurs in the small school environment
that may lead to overcrowding and a higher percentage of at-risk students in the
larger school environment. Another concern is a lack of research-based evidence
that small school environments actually improve learning, as standardized test
scores show little or no improvement. Finally, some simply feel that not enough
attention is paid to restructuring learning design when emphasis is placed on class
size alone.
Collaborative Cultures. Educational settings that support student success
are those that both share power across the school community, giving voice to
teachers and students (Banks, 1998) and also share a common vision and focus.
These schools promote strong relationships between students and adults.
A panel of interdisciplinary scholars at the Center for Multicultural
Education at the University of Washington cited the creation of opportunities for
students from diverse backgrounds to interact socially as one of twelve essential
principles for creating unity in school cultures. They recommend purposefully
teaching students the social skills necessary to interact appropriately with other
28


students from different cultural backgrounds (Banks, et al., 2001). Instructional
methods and curriculum content can also encourage a collaborative classroom
climate. Effective teaching strategies for building a collaborative classroom culture
include choosing culturally relevant and sensitive content, planning activities that
promote cooperative learning, problem based learning approaches, and inquiry
methods (Haberman, 1996).
Creating a classroom culture that includes students in decision making (for
example, allowing choices between types of assessment projects or topics for
further research) could increase the students sense of responsibility for their own
learning. When teachers help students recognize the relationship between their own
efforts and academic achievement, students begin to develop an internal locus of
control (Parsley & Corcoran, 2003). In particular, there is evidence that at-risk
students benefit from working in collaboration with their peers (Knapp & Shields,
1991). Haberman (1996) cautions that coercive efforts to control students,.
commonly employed in diverse, urban classrooms, do not promote student
learning. His recommendation is rather to employ democratic classroom principles
and to give students the autonomy to be self-regulating.
29


Professional Development
In order to prepare and support teachers in consistent and effective
application of the instructional approaches described above, professional
development programs need to be specifically designed to build teacher awareness
of and sensitivity to the individual needs of their students. Teacher beliefs about
themselves and their students and their competence in creating successful
classrooms can be genuinely shaped by professional development programs
(Henderson-Sparks, 2002; Sobel, 2002). These perceptions, as well as perceptions
about personal ethnicity, white privilege, and competence in differentiating
curriculum, content and instructional methods to meet individual needs, should be
purposefully explored and addressed in professional development programs for
both pre-service and in-service teachers. These professional development
opportunities should also be designed to help teachers explore the cultural origin
and social construction of knowledge.
Grounding and competence in these issues are critical to teacher efficacy
and the resulting school climate, student engagement, motivation and achievement
(Banks, 1998; Ladson Billings 2001; Voltz, et al., 2004). Rafferty (2003) found a
direct relationship between school climate and teachers willingness to
communicate with principals about important school issues. A climate defined by
strong relationships and high levels of trust was correlated with broader teacher-
30


principal communication and subsequent increases in teacher motivation toward
professional development. Most teachers want to be more actively involved in
school decisions and often feel alienated from the school culture when they
perceive themselves excluded from these processes (Taylor & Bogotch, 1994). In
fact, Huffman (2003) reports an improvement in teacher morale and also in student
performance when math teachers are encouraged to work together to develop new
instructional methods and create curricula to better meet the needs of their math
students.
Multicultural Education in Professional Development Programs
It is clear that teachers need specific instruction and practice in developing
and implementing curricular and pedagogical strategies which meet the special
needs of the unique population of students for which they are responsible (Ladson-
Billings, 2000) and particularly for meeting the educational needs of students from
cultural backgrounds that do not match their own (McBee, 1998). Further,
professional development is critical for dispelling the belief that minority children
are unable to learn and that their culture is a stumbling block to educational
processes (Artiles et al., 2000). Teachers who hold this belief may have little
understanding of the issues of discrimination, racism and white privilege and how
31


they influence student self-esteem and academic achievement (Sleeter, 2001;
Howard, 1999).
Because of the prevalence of these stereotypes and biases, professional
development programs should provide the opportunity to explore the socially
constructed concepts of race and ethnicity, to examine ethnic identities, and to
explore the potential for implicit and explicit personal prejudices that may
influence expectations and approaches to education in diverse classrooms (Groulx,
2001; Lawrence, 1997). Understanding their own preconceptions and attitudes and
how these might influence their effectiveness as teachers appears to be an important
first step on the road to multicultural competence.
In-service teacher need professional development which addresses issues of
cultural competence because often their teacher preparation programs did not offer
opportunity to fully explore these issues. Though teacher education programs have
increasingly included some form of multicultural awareness in their curricula, these
are often simply add-on, stand alone classes that seem to have little impact on
teacher preparedness for effectively meeting the needs of diverse students (Nieto,
2003). Though some short-term changes in multicultural understanding are
achieved through classes designed to teach cultural competence, the principles
shared often do not translate into meaningful classroom practice (Sleeter, 2001). In
order to effect perceptual change that translates into the classroom, teachers need
32


multicultural education that includes both the theory of curriculum and experience
within a diverse environment (Huerta, 1999). Teachers should be provided
opportunity to consistently apply theory to practice in a setting that encourages
dialogue and reflection during this process.
Increasing the need for effective in-service programs, which develop clear
perspective and respect for cultural difference, is the potential for pre-service
programs to actually perpetuate teacher stereotypes and preconceptions. There can
be a tendency for multicultural education courses to become a discussion about the
problems associated with diversity with little focus on the potential for diversity to
bring richness and to increase capacity and experience. Often there is no discussion
of the socio-political responsibility of educators to consider the place of equity in
education in a democracy (Abdal-Haqq, 1999). School administrators are often
representative of the dominant culture and can feel uncomfortable teaching
multicultural education because they themselves lack first hand experience of
successful interaction with minority students.
These educators must consider how their own cultural biases influence their
presentation of multicultural theory and instruction. If this is not taken into
consideration, there is a chance that inaccurate perceptions of ethnicity and racial
identity will be reinforced by the inadvertent stereotyping inherent in many
programs designed to address the issues related to multicultural competence
33


(Huerta, 1999). Nieto (2003) warns the assumption that culture is the primary
determinant of academic achievement can be over simplistic, dangerous and
counter-productive because, although culture may influence, it does not determine,
who we are (p. 141).
Understanding the impact of culture on academic achievement is a
challenge for teachers in all stages of professional development. An effort that has
promise for helping teachers to come to terms with the importance of culture in
learning environments is a hybrid course that combines anthropology and
educational psychology courses to create a theoretical lens for examining the
implications of classroom diversity (Hertzog & Adams, 2001). Another
contribution from anthropology is its ethnographic research style, which, when
combined with teacher action research and used by student teachers as a field
research methodology, has influenced students to express interest in teaching in
minority schools as a career plan (Sleeter, 2001). It would seem that these
approaches would be similarly useful in the design of on-going professional
development programs for practicing teachers.
Reflection, with subsequent dialogue, is an effective strategy for processing
and encouraging growth in understanding the culture and viewpoint of the children
teachers encounter in the urban environment. Reflections in the journals of these
teachers show the impact of their field experiences in dispelling the stereotypes and
34


the myths they previously held about teaching in inner-city schools (McBee, 1998,
Sobel, 2002). This reflection process would seem to be a valuable one for
education faculty as well, as they strive to balance their roles as researchers,
teachers and political activists, working towards a better, more equitable world for
all students and find themselves examining and re-creating their own
conceptualization of multicultural education (Pettitt & Abascal-Hildebrand, 2001).
As Howard (1999) has asserted, educators, particularly those who belong to the
dominant culture paradigm, need opportunities to examine the impact of that
cultural paradigm on their attitudes and responses to the diversity in their
classrooms.
Teachers can learn much from one another. One program for improving the
expectations and classroom performance of teachers already employed in a low-
income, urban school paired master teachers (those who achieve a high rate of
student success in the diverse classrooms of an inner-city school) with less
experienced teachers for observation, implementation and follow-up discussion
(Foster, 2004). Teachers in this study recognized that their expectations for student
achievement were more closely linked to their own perceptions of self-efficacy
than to student capability. As teachers observed the master teachers developing
strong, trusting relationships with their students, they began to make changes in
their own classrooms and follow this model.
35


As problems arose, teachers were able to discuss these with the master
teacher and their peers and then make further adjustments in their teaching. The
result was that students showed considerable academic growth, as indicated by pre
and post standardized test scores. Based upon this data, it would seem that critical
elements of teacher multicultural competence should include strong self-knowledge
as it pertains to cultural self-identity and the value of difference, the understanding
of the cultural origins and social construction of knowledge, and the belief that all
children can learn.
In order to fully and effectively engage teachers and ultimately change
practice, it is critical that professional development programs go beyond a lecture
or simple workshop design. Instead these programs should provide opportunity for
relevant follow up activities and encourage participation across school communities
of collaboration and learning (Voltz, et al., 2004). For example, programs that
include a collaborative, case-based component can engage teachers in follow-up
activities which encourage cooperative application of workshop content in their
classroom practice.
Case-Based Professional Development
A strategy that is being increasingly employed for facilitating reflection and
collaboration among teachers is the case-based method of inquiry. Case-based
36


inquiry has proven successful in preparing physicians, lawyers and others for
independent practice. This method is becoming more widely used in teacher
development as the challenges of teaching and the complex nature of connecting
research to practice within the teaching task become more widely recognized
(Merseth, 1991). In 1986, the Carnegie Task Force on Teaching recommended
using case studies as a component of professional development (Carnegie, 1986).
Since that time, case-based workshops have been increasingly employed in teacher
education to situate teacher learning in real world contexts (Putnam and Borko,
2000; Merseth, 1994) and to connect research to practice (Shulman, 1992).
According to in-service teachers, cases provide opportunities to think creatively
about current teaching practices, to reflect upon potential new strategies for
meeting individual student needs, and to collaborate with others in seeking
solutions for authentic classroom situations.
In addition, collaborative learning allows teachers to engage in discussion
with others with more advanced levels of cultural awareness and understanding,
often serving to increase their own levels of awareness and understanding
(Columbo, 2004). Sobel and Taylor (2005) found that even pre-service teachers
(
highly valued, and requested more real-world opportunities to apply the specific
strategies and practices learned in the classroom.
37


Case-based discussion can be a particularly effective tool for multicultural
education in schools where teachers feel a strong sense of community support.
This approach can encourage authentic sharing and openness when discussing
sensitive issues of cultural attitudes and possible bias. Shulman (1992b) found that
teachers who participated in such a case-based professional development program
became more attentive to the issues of cultural diversity and demonstrated an
increased recognition of multiple perspectives. Further, these changes resulted in
changed classroom behavior and an improved ability to interact with students from
diverse cultural backgrounds.
It has been demonstrated that teachers who participate in case-based
professional development activities that also include a collaboration component,
more readily apply the newly gained skills and strategies towards meeting the real-
world needs of students in future situations (Gartland, 2003; Kilbane, 2000). Those
who are charged with educating teachers are gaining enthusiasm for the techniques
value in developing reflective habits and stimulating critical thinking (Kleinfeld,
1992) particularly in a collaborative setting. Lawrence (2005) found that when
teachers worked collegially rather than alone, a specific antiracist staff awareness
program had a greater impact on teacher practice in the participating schools. This
was particularly evident where school leaders placed a high priority on, participated
in and overtly supported the multicultural education program..
38


Schools in Reform: Research to Practice
It is evident that teachers and their attitudes, abilities, and choices, are
central to the successful implementation of educational reform. Professional
development has been cited as one of the most important factors in changing school
climate and student outcomes. To underscore the pivotal role that teachers play in
educational change, this section concludes with three examples of schools that have
effectively employed collaborative professional development and relationship
building strategies to improve school climate and student outcomes.
One urban high school in Boston, concerned with the apathy of its student
body, the impersonal nature of its school relationships, and the challenges
presented by the diversity in its student population, implemented a broad reform
effort over two years with remarkable success (McPartland, 1998). School staff
collaborated for a full planning year before the start of the program, and during
implementation staff retreats were conducted for the purpose of reflection,
evaluation, and for working together to solve the problems that arose as the
program developed. The reform effort, called the talent development model,
included transformation of a large school into several distinct learning academies of
250-350 students. These academies each focused upon career interests, and the
students and teachers were free to choose the academy in which they would
39


participate. Teachers met their students at the doorway to their own academies and
relationships formed.
Activities such as a celebratory kick off (complete with breaking a
champagne bottle across the front of the building) unified the community around
the initiative. Through both quantitative and qualitative data, the reform was
shown to impact positively upon student behavior, test scores, attendance, and
promotion rates. McPartland (1998) reports the most dramatic improvement was in
the schools climate, as indicated by the attitudes of teacher and students.
Another story is found in Chicago, where an inner-city school serving 86%
low-income students from 6th through 12th grades has worked to create a culture
where each student feels a sense of belonging (Shulla-Cose & Day, 2004).,
Professional development stressed the importance of a commitment to building
strong relationships with students. Teachers learned to communicate clearly their
expectations and in so doing their belief that each and every student has the
potential to succeed. Teachers cite active listening and their readiness to help
students recover when they fail, as key attributes of the school culture that have
lead to positive outcomes for many of their at-risk students.
In a diverse, urban middle school in the southwestern U.S., a reform effort
focused on creating an authentic learning community of administrators and
teachers, increased student achievement dramatically over a five-year period
40


(Phillips, 2003). As the teachers worked together during collaborative learning
sessions, professional relationships grew, and as they shared leadership and
responsibility, new and creative ways to approach curriculum and instruction
emerged. These were then applied in individual classroom settings.
Teachers became aware of and began to differentiate instructional
approaches for school contextual factors such as race, class, and cultural
background. More importantly, teachers invited students to participate in the
learning community, to become more actively engaged in shaping their learning
experience, and to become leaders themselves as they wrestled with current social
issues and received support in relating them to their own lives. Putting teacher
learning at the heart of this project and creating a collaborative, reflective
community where both students and teachers could participate and even lead were
cited as factors leading to the success of this reform effort.
Conclusions and Implications for Research
The body of literature on educational reform is vast and multi-faceted.
Within it can be found concrete data regarding the politics, demographics and
epidemiology of student achievement and academic outcomes, and less concrete,
but surely compelling, evidence that indicates that there are influential relationships
between certain factors and the underachievement of certain students. Most
41


encouraging is the coherence that is emerging regarding potential solutions,
particularly in the form of increasing teacher capacity for resolving our nations
historic inability to meet the educational needs of what may soon be a majority of
its young citizens.
Reform reflects a process that requires participation across many levels of
the school community and its stakeholders. Because of the complexities of the
reform process and because of the critical risk for loss of human capacity we face if
reform does not occur, there is a need for clarification of priorities. We must
identify the most essential elements of reform and create a realistic, strategic plan
and sequence for their achievement. In the light of compelling evidence regarding
the profound influence that teachers and school climates can have on student
outcomes, it would seem that the most influential reform strategies will be those
which focus on professional development towards cultural competence and the
creation and maintenance of an empowering, inclusionary school climate.
The research points persuasively to a conclusion that certain aspects of
teacher beliefs and attitudes, preparation, and support matter. Caring teachers who
are comfortable with their own ethnic identities, who are aware of the cultural
origins of knowledge and meaning-making, who are confident that they can teach
effectively to diversity, and who believe that all students can be successful learners,
can improve the prognosis students who may be at risk. The literature also strongly
42


suggests that curriculum and materials and instructional methods matter.
Employing culturally relevant curriculum and differentiated, constructivist, and
inquiry-based instructional methods can increase student engagement and promote
academic success.
Finally, there is coherence in the literature regarding the importance of
educational settings. Schools that are inclusive, that foster a sense of belonging to
the school community in their teachers and students, and that support strong
relationships built on respect and responsibility for all students can change the
course of student lives through positive academic outcomes. Even more
importantly, inclusive school cultures can instill a sense of the intrinsic value of
each individual human life and an appreciation of the richness and reward that
cultural diversity brings to American society to all of its members.
Available research does not adequately define specific multicultural
professional development design that can improve teacher capacity to meet the
needs of a diverse population of students (Artiles et al., 2000; Ladson-Billings,
1995; Zeichner, 1993). Research is needed that investigates the impact of
professional development participation on teachers attitudes towards diversity, and
their sense of responsibility towards meeting the needs of every student in their
classrooms. Research is needed to investigate the relationship between
multicultural professional development programs and teacher effectiveness (Webb-
43


Johnson, Artiles, et al., 1998) which, ultimately, measures teacher effectiveness in
terms of improved student outcomes (Noyce, 2006).
44


CHAPTER 3
METHODOLOGY
Research Questions
The following research questions guided the process and design of this
investigation.
1. What is the impact of a specific professional development program (that
encompasses a review of current literature around multicultural education,
best practice strategies for meeting the needs of diverse student populations,
and a case-based collaborative approach to applying those strategies) on
teachers self report of awareness of comfort with and sensitivity to issues
of cultural diversity in the classroom?
2. What is the impact of this specific professional development program on
teachers sense of responsibility to address these issues in their teaching?
3. What is the impact of this specific professional development program on
student perceptions of teacher caring and school climate?
It is hypothesized that teachers might experience actual or perceived
increases in professional competence in meeting the needs of their students through
the treatments offered in this study design. Another study hypothesis is that
students will report an improved perception of their school climate because of the
45


impact of the workshop and collaboration exercises upon teachers sensitivity to
their academic and social needs.
Subjects
This study was conducted in a Southeastern US city with a population of
60,000, a minority population of 42%, and a per capita income of $ 19,000. The
ethnic breakdown includes a Caucasian population of 58% and an African
American population of 28% as illustrated in the following figure.
Caucasian 58%
African
American 28%
Hispanic 10%
other 4%
Figure 3.1 Population of research city
The subjects included teachers and 7th, 8th, 10th and 11th grade students from
one public high school (106 teachers and 600 students) and two middle schools
(103 teachers and 1079 students) who voluntarily agreed to participate in this study
for the 2005-2006 school year. Student participation was limited to taking two
school climate surveys: one in September 2005 and one in April or May 2006.
46


The total number of subjects who entered the study included 1679
secondary students and 209 teachers. Subjects were identified through a
convenience selection as all 7 public secondary schools in the area, which were not
classified as alternative or technical schools, were invited to participate, and these
three were the first to respond to an invitational email. Additionally, grade levels
were chosen to include students who would likely be in their second or third year in
their school and who could call upon this history in responding to school climate
survey items. Seniors were excluded from school climate surveys because it was
thought they might be in the process of socially and emotionally disconnecting
from their schools climate during the last month before graduation and that this
might influence survey results.
Choosing one high school and two middle schools for participation
provided an approximately equal balance of middle and high school teachers.
Students and teachers were advised by the researcher and by the school principals,
before the onset of the study, that their participation was completely voluntary and
that they could choose not to participate, without repercussions, at any point in the
L aL if.
course of the study. No subjects who are 7 8 10 or 11 grade students or
teachers of these three schools were intentionally excluded by the study design.
47


Study Design
This study employed a mixed-method approach to investigate the impact of
a case-based professional development program on teacher attitudes towards
classroom diversity and student perceptions of school climate. Two hundred and
nine teachers from one high school and two middle schools entered the study,
participating in an initial multicultural education training session that included a
review of current literature on effective teaching to diversity and a presentation of
recommended strategies for instructional design and creating positive classroom
culture. An outline of this workshop and supporting slide presentation is included
here as Appendix B.
The professional development program was created and conducted by the
researcher and was to include an initial workshop and three case-based
collaboration sessions. The initial workshop presentation content included the key
points of the preceding literature review, with a particular focus on related
constructs which emerged from this review (Table 2.1). Additionally, the
presentation offered specific strategies for supporting students with learning
differences toward academic improvement. It included discussion around
understanding the context of poverty and building cognitive structures in children
of this context (Payne, 1995, 1998, 2005). A power point presentation, included as
Appendix B, guided the workshop. In spite of some negative initial comments
48


expressing frustration regarding the time the workshop was requiring, teachers at
all three schools were friendly and attentive during the workshop presentations,
which lasted between 60 and 95 minutes. Many stayed to ask questions and to
discuss the information presented.
The case-based collaborations were conducted by the researcher, in each
participating school during the course of the school year. Schools were sent a
collaboration worksheet (included here as Appendix C) two weeks before the case-
study meeting was held. For the first collaboration, each staff team chose one
student from their classes, based on the at-risk profile discussed in the workshop
and detailed on the collaboration worksheet. The team leader filled preliminary
student data into the worksheet. This was then distributed to the team and to the
researcher 48 hours before the collaboration meeting. During the collaboration
meetings, teachers worked together, guided by the researcher, to create an
individual student plan which included strategies for meeting the case students
unique academic, behavioral and social development needs. A worksheet, created
by the researcher, which guided the initial process of choosing a student and
working together to create an individual plan, was provided to teachers (Appendix
C), along with instructions for its use. During staff collaboration meetings, after
discussion of the unique issues of the case, teachers worked together to create an
individualized plan to meet the needs of this student. Teachers were instructed to
49


follow the student privacy protocol used in district IEP meetings. This process was
facilitated through a preliminary discussion focusing on the processes of group
interaction, collaboration, and reaching consensus included with the case study in
October, 2005.
The support of school principals was enlisted to encourage teachers to
participate. Principals were the first point of contact in inviting schools to
participate. They also had an opportunity to preview the content of the workshop
and collaborations. They were invited to engage in preliminary discussion
regarding the challenges they are facing in closing the learning gap that currently
exists in their at-risk student populations. Principals were invited to attend each
professional development session along with their staff. Principals from the high
school and one of the middle schools attended all of the workshops. The principal
from one middle school was unable to work the workshops into his schedule.
This professional development program was designed to give teachers
opportunities to engage in real-world application of current literature on meeting
the needs of at-risk students. Because teachers often remain unchanged by
professional development that does not include follow-up experiential and real-
world application (Voltz, et al., 2004), the program included a case-based
collaboration component. This was designed to encourage teachers to work
together to find new ways of connecting to and supporting students. It was also
50


thought that engaging the teachers in these collaborative activities might further
enhance their learning experience by situating it in the social context of other
practitioners (Lave & Wenger, 1991; Banks et al., 2001).
Components of Initial Workshop
The components of the professional development program include training
modules addressing each of the constructs identified in Table 2.1: Teacher
education, teacher beliefs, curriculum and instructional design and classroom
climate. The PowerPoint presentation for the initial workshop is included as
Appendix B. Initially, the review of the literature included in this dissertation was
presented, addressing best known practice for meeting the unique needs of and
understanding the cultural context of a diverse population of students in the
classroom setting. Next, teachers were given an overview of Ruby Paynes A
Framework for Understanding Poverty (1998) and Learning Structures (2005),
which were chosen for strategies that appeared to be readily employable when
teachers re-enter classrooms following the training and because strategies are
designed with the foundational belief that student background and family culture
impact approaches to learning.
This work is based on the following major premises:
1. Economic realities create "hidden rules," unspoken
cueing mechanisms that reflect agreed-upon tacit
51


understandings, which the group uses to negotiate
reality. These "hidden rules" come out of cause-and-
effect situations. Hidden rules reflect the behaviors and
mindsets that are needed to survive in that economic
reality.
2. Education and relationships are the two key ways
people move out of poverty (if the individual desires to
move out of poverty).
3. Each class has advantages and disadvantages.
4. The amount of language and the number of abstract
words an individual has is related to level of education.
The level of education is highly correlated to economic
class.
5. In order to communicate with another human being,
abstract representational systems are needed.
Education is about learning and using these systems.
To do so, an individual carries abstract constructs and
processes inside his/her head.
6. Abstract representational systems are learned.
7. All subject areas, disciplines, and occupations have
their own abstract constructs (mental models). Such
mental models are necessary for shared
understandings.
(Payne 2002)
During the discussion of these premises, teachers were offered related
strategies for teaching abstract representational systems and creating mental models
to move students from concrete to abstract cognitive processes. Teachers were
guided towards a discussion of Banks (1995) criteria for understanding how to
choose and deliver equity pedagogy. They were then given opportunity to consider
their potential responsibility to step outside of instructional paradigms from their
52


own schooling experiences to meet the needs of the diverse student population in
their classrooms.
Format of Teacher Collaborations
During the subsequent 5 months, each school team was asked to participate
in three case-based collaborations with a team of approximately five to twenty of
their colleagues. Collaboration group size varied by school staff size, but was also
dependent upon the simultaneous occurrence of extra-curricular activities that
teachers often needed to supervise. These often took precedence over attending the
professional development sessions. During sessions, teachers met for an hour to
discuss a student case. One student from each school team was chosen by the
participating faculty members for the first collaboration. For subsequent
collaborations, a composite, virtual case was submitted by the researcher. Teachers
were asked to create an individual student plan (ISP) based on the needs of the
student and using strategies learned from the workshop presentations. Middle
school teachers were asked to group themselves into already established school
teams and high school teachers were asked to sit with other teachers who taught in
their content area. The team was led by a teacher volunteer, chosen by simply
asking for a volunteer at the onset of the discussion. This leader was asked to
assign someone to take notes during the discussion. The notes were then shared
53


with the team by email or by hard copy at the recorders discretion. These
collaborative sessions were held in October, November, and January during the
2005-06 school year. In spite of creating an initial plan and structure for these
workshops, the researcher was committed to sensitivity to school staff reaction and
response and was willing to make changes in the professional development content
and design as the professional development sessions progressed.
Changes Made to Professional Development Design
After the first collaboration, two principals asked that more direct
instruction be included at the next collaboration meeting, as teachers were reporting
that they wanted more guidance and training and outside expertise. Due to this
request, at the next meeting, teachers were offered a thirty-minute overview of the
principles of Love and Logic for behavior management (Fay & Funk, 1995). The
Love and Logic materials were deemed appropriate as teachers focused on the
construct of school settings because of demonstrated efficacy for improving school
relationships and increasing teacher confidence in diverse settings. After the
presentation, the collaboration around an individual student proceeded as planned.
Another change in the collaboration workshop protocol was made because
teachers at the high school expressed concern during the first collaboration that the
discussions were breaching student privacy. One of the teachers brought this to the
54


researchers attention, reporting that her group was very off-task while they were
discussing the appropriateness of hearing about sexual abuse in the home of a
student they did not know. Two teachers said they felt less free to honestly deal
with the actual student issues because principals were watching the process and
they had been warned by these principals to follow protocol for protecting student
privacy during other staff meetings. After talking with the High School vice
principal about these concerns, the researcher offered to create cases rather than
have staff discuss real students and their real life situations. The principal agreed
that this was how the remainder of the case study collaborations should be
formatted.
Data Collection
As indicated by the study research questions, the study design was intended
to examine changes in teachers awareness of and sensitivity to issues of student
diversity. Teacher attitudes toward classroom diversity and perceptions of their
own competence for meeting the individual academic and social needs of a diverse
population of students were quantitatively assessed in August 2005 and in March
and May of 2006 using the Teacher Multicultural Assessment survey instrument.
Qualitative data were collected through three teacher focus groups that were
conducted and audio taped in May of 2006. Baseline and post-test student
55


perceptions of school climate were quantitatively assessed in August 2005 and in
April of 2006.
Quantitative Instruments
To collect the quantitative data for this study, two separate survey
instruments were chosen to measure teacher and student perceptions. The Teacher
Multicultural Assessment Survey (TMAS) is intended to measure the construct of
cultural awareness that includes awareness of, comfort with and sensitivity to
issues of cultural pluralism in the classroom. In addition, the TMAS is intended to
identify teachers who see cultural diversity as a strength and who feel the
responsibility to address multicultural issues in the curriculum and in the
teaching/leaming process. (Ponterotto, Baluch, Greig, & Rivera, 1998). Validity
data for this instrument indicates an ability to discriminate between levels of
multicultural awareness and discovers a coefficient of variation in the ideal range.
This coefficient of variation of 9.3% indicates that TMAS scores sufficiently varied
between teachers in evaluative studies. Criterion validity tests found that TMAS
scores varied among teachers related to whether or not they had participated in
multicultural professional development programs. Reliability tests of internal
consistency yielded a coefficient alpha of .86 and a theta coefficient of .89,
demonstrating a high level of consistency in ranges deemed acceptable for research
56


purposes (Ponterotto, 1996). Stability was satisfactory (an index of .80) over
multiple test-retest administrations. However, it is suggested that further research
is needed to examine the effects of professional development on TMAS scores
(Ponterotto, et al., 1998). A copy of the TMAS is included here as Appendix D.
Student participation in this study was limited to two administrations of a
student school climate survey, The Opinion Survey for Students (OSS). Baseline
and post-testing sessions were conducted at the beginning of the study and again in
May 2006. Students perception of changes in school climate during the course of
their teachers participation in this study were investigated for the purpose of
exploring student impact of potential changes in teachers attitudes and behaviors
during the course of this projects professional development program.
The student survey was intended to measure pre and post-treatment
perceptions of school climate at the three secondary schools where students were
enrolled. In addition, the instrument chosen, the Opinion Survey for Students
(OSS), assesses student perceptions of self and their academic progress
(http://bdsphd.tripod.com/srv/oss-printouts.htm). The OSS was chosen because it
has nearly identical questions to the NASSP School Climate Survey (NSCS), which
was developed and validated at the University of Nebraska and Western Michigan
University. The NASSP School Climate Survey was bid to this researcher at a cost
of $2,000 for repeated measure administration to 3500 students. In contrast, the
57


OSS is a public domain survey, developed and made available for web
downloading by educational consultant Bert Stone, PhD. It has 49 short
statements, which correlate very closely to the NSCS. A copy of the OSS is
included here as Appendix E.
The survey asks students to indicate level of agreement with those
statements by choosing 1 (strongly agree) through 5 (strongly disagree) on a Likert
scale. To increase student confidence in the privacy of their answers and to protect
this privacy, individual student responses to the survey were kept strictly
confidential by intentional design of the system for administration of the student
survey. Specific or identifying information was not shared with teachers or other
school personnel. Names did not appear on the surveys. Teachers passed out the
survey forms and were instructed to remain seated in their desks during the course
of the survey and during the collection of the instruments. A student was assigned
in each classroom to collect the surveys, seal them in an envelope provided by the
researcher and deliver them to the school office. At no time did teachers have
access to the individual surveys.
The TMAS and School Climate Surveys both were administered using
Scantron forms to simplify data entry. Quantitative data were retrieved from
Scantron forms using a Scantron reader. Surveys did not request subject names, but
included identifying data to allow for repeated measure design: last 4 digits of SS #
58


and first three letters of first name. Scantron forms that had not been completed
adequately for subject identification to allow repeated measures analysis were
included in the means of the school data, but were not included in the ANOVA
analysis of between subject means.
Qualitative Data Collection
Focus groups were conducted after the last case study collaboration session.
These consisted of up to ten faculty members from two middle schools and up to
twenty faculty members from one high school in order to provide similar
representation of both school levels. All faculty from the 3 participating schools
were invited to join the focus groups. The audio-taped focus groups encouraged a
dialogue around the professional development experience and its potential impact
upon staff competence to meet diverse individual needs and upon the overall school
climate.
In order to encourage authenticity in focus group discussion, the principal
researcher did not participate. A volunteer staff member from each school was
enlisted to facilitate the sessions. However, in one middle school focus group, no
volunteer was identified and the researcher remained in the session to read the
questions and to run the audio equipment. The focus group data from the group
where the researcher was present was consistent with data from other focus groups.
59


There was no discemable difference in the quality or depth of the comments from
this school when evaluated by Nvivo analysis.
The following questions guided the focus group dialogue:
1. How did the workshop and collaboration exercises influence your
thinking about diversity?
2. What was different in choices of curriculum, resources or
instructional methods as a result of these experiences?
3. Are teachers responsible to meet the academic needs of every child
in their classes?
4. Are there any other comments you would like to add?
Minimizing Subject Risk
Study design took into consideration the potential risks to teacher
participants and minimization or elimination of these risks. Identified potential
risks included disclosure or even misrepresentation of a teachers position on
cultural diversity in the classroom. These comments, regarding sensitive issues of
student diversity, might be disclosed to others outside of the study. Teachers might
experience mild discomfort or embarrassment during the workshop or focus
groups, or residual feelings of insecurity in their competence as a professional
60


educator. They might experience feelings of being on the spot in terms of
providing input during the collaborative process of creating student learning plans.
In order to minimize the potential for these to occur, teachers were advised
that these discussions may deal with sensitive issues of racial identity and could
lead to disclosure of or even misrepresentation of their viewpoints and statements
outside of the discussion. They were informed of potential risks and assured that
they could choose to withdraw from participation at any time during the study. The
researcher enlisted principals to encourage staff commitment to confidentiality.
Every effort was made by the researcher to prepare teachers for appropriate and
respectful participation in these discussions, including encouraging a group
commitment to confidentiality concerning participants remarks during and after
the study was concluded. Consent letters were used to inform teacher participants
and informational letters were used to inform parents of student participants about
the study (Appendixes F and G). All data were kept by the primary researcher and
University advisor in digital (CD) and hard copy form for three complete years
following the conclusion of this study.
Data Analysis
Survey data were uploaded to SPSS for analysis. Baseline and ending
TMAS data were tested for significant variance using a repeated measures ANOVA
61


analysis. ANOVA was employed to explore potential variance between survey
baseline scores, achieved prior to the professional development intervention and
post test scores, achieved after teachers participated in professional development
program. Student (OSS) and teacher (TMAS) surveys were subjected to ANOVA.
Significant differences identified between baseline and post test scores would allow
rejection of the study null hypotheses of no significant difference occurring
between student baseline or post test survey scores or between teacher baseline and
post test survey scores. ANOVA was the statistical test of choice based on the
techniques ability to reduce probability of error, while comparing variance
between and within group mean scores (Lomax, 2001).
To analyze qualitative study data, the researcher created written transcripts
from the focus group data. These transcripts were first analyzed by the researcher
for patterns and themes, using a common inductive approach of allowing themes to
emerge directly from the text. Once these themes were identified, data points were
organized according to recurring patterns using the Nvivo Software Program
(Merriam, 2002). As recommended by the research of QSR, the distributor of
Nvivo software, care was taken to avoid pitfalls associated with Nvivo while
collecting and coding data. To avoid the potential tendency to miss important data
that is not related to the focus group, questions, all data were organized into patterns
regardless of relevance to focus group questions. To minimize coding bias due to
62


foreknowledge of quantitative results, focus group data were analyzed before
quantitative survey data to minimize influence of quantitative results on
researchers qualitative analysis.
This study employs a mixed method approach to investigate the impact of a
professional development program on teacher attitudes towards diversity in the
classroom and on student perceptions of school climate. Triangulation of multiple
data points to improve accuracy of data analysis was the intent of including a
qualitative component in this research design. By collecting and comparing both
qualitative and quantitative data, the researcher sought to identify and investigate
consistencies and possible contradictions between the two sources of data. It was
also thought this approach would decrease the likelihood of validity loss due to
reliance on a single form of evidence (Wiggins, 1998; Minger, 2001). In the
following chapter, only those results and conclusions that can be supported by
coherence between qualitative and quantitative data are presented.
63


For clarity, study events and chronology are depicted in the following table:
. Table 3.1 Research Project Timeline and Activities
August 2005 Baseline student School Climate Student Survey
August 2005 Baseline teacher survey using TMAS
August 2005 Researcher presents 2 hour (High Risk to High Achievement) workshop to teachers
October 2005 All teachers participated in a case-based collaboration
November 2005 All teachers participated in a case-based collaboration
January 2006 All teachers participated in a case-based collaboration
March 2006 Post-treatment teacher survey using TMAS
April 2006 Focus Groups conducted Post Test School Climate Student Survey Transcripting and analysis of focus group data
August 2006 Analysis of qualitative data and SPSS analysis of student and teacher survey data
64


CHAPTER4
RESULTS
Overview
The purpose of this project was to investigate the impact of a case-based
professional development program on teacher attitudes towards diversity and on
student perceptions of school climate. To this end, a mixed-method approach was
employed to provide a broad range of data points from which to explore the
research questions. Repeated measures quantitative surveys were administered to
measure potential changes in teacher and student perceptions. To collect
qualitative data, the researcher observed and listened in the natural school setting of
the study participants and audio taped teacher focus group discussions at each
participating school.
Research Questions and Study Hypotheses
The questions investigated by this study were:
1. What is the'impact of a specific professional development program (that
encompasses a review of current literature around multicultural education,
best practice strategies for meeting the needs of diverse student populations,
65


and a case-based collaborative approach to applying those strategies) on
teachers self report of awareness of comfort with and sensitivity to issues
of cultural diversity in the classroom?
2. What is the impact of this specific professional development program on
teachers sense of responsibility to address these issues in their teaching?
3. What is the impact of this specific professional development program on
student perceptions of teacher caring and school climate?
It was hypothesized that teachers might achieve increases in professional
competence towards meeting the needs of diverse students through the treatments
offered in this study design. This might lead to an increased confidence and sense
of responsibility to meet student needs. Another study hypothesis is that students
would report an improved perception of their school climate because of the impact
of the workshop and collaboration exercises upon teachers sensitivity to their
academic and social needs.
Quantitative Data
Quantitative data include baseline and post-intervention teacher scores on
the Teacher Multicultural Assessment Survey and student baseline and post-
intervention scores on the Opinion Survey for Students (OSS). These data provide
evidence that lead to the acceptance of each study hypothesis and indicate the
66


professional development intervention may have had a statistically significant
impact on teacher constructs identified in the research questions, including
awareness of, comfort with and sensitivity to issues of cultural diversity and sense
of responsibility to meet students needs. The quantitative student data indicate that
students may have developed a significantly more positive perception of their
schools climate due to the professional development intervention. These
instruments and their use and outcomes in this study are described in the following
sections.
Teacher Multicultural Assessment Survey
Collected within the TMAS survey, demographic and background data
included gender, subject taught, and years of teaching experience. Birth date was
requested to be used with the last 4 digits of Social Security number to be used as a
subject identification number for correlating baseline and post tests by subject as
required for repeated measures design. However, during the first school
administration of the TMAS survey, teachers expressed concern about identity theft
and some did not fill in the personal information. After clarification that the survey
only asked for the last 4 digits of their social security number and would be
available only to the researcher, many teachers still left the demographic and
subject code portions of the Scantron form blank. One table of 6 teachers stayed
67


behind to explain to the researcher that one of them had been a victim of identity
theft and so the others were convinced by her not to include social security
numbers or birthdates in their answer sheets. Before the next TMAS administration
at middle school # 2, procedures for privacy protection were discussed, yet nearly
half of those teachers also left the demographic data blank. Available data were
still analyzed to determine whether demographic factors could be determined to
influence initial TMAS scores.
Pearson correlations were run using SPSS to explore potential correlations
between baseline or post-test TMAS scores and gender, ethnicity, grade level or
multicultural courses attended. According to initial results of this test, there is a
significant correlation between teacher ethnicity and change over time between
baseline and post-test TMAS scores at the .05 level. Upon further analysis, it
appears this variance can be accounted for by a mean difference of +32.00 between
baseline and post-test scores of the TMAS in the single subject in the Hispanic
teacher group whose tests were properly coded to allow repeated measure analysis
(n=l). When this outlier was removed, Pearson correlations revealed no
significant interaction between demographic factors and TMAS scores. The
demographic distribution of teachers reporting ethnicity (97%) is demonstrated in
the following figure.
68


i nno/_ Caucasian 78%
ano/. . African Amer 15% Hispanic 2.3%
ano/. .
Ano/ .
ono/_ . Asian 1.8%
L Other .6%
Did Not Report 2.9%
Figure 4.1 Teacher demographic chart
Representation by teachers reporting ethnic minority comprised 19% of
study participants. Data from both of the Pearson Correlation tests are recorded in
the following tables.
Table 4.1 Demographic TMAS total/TMAS Difference Out
Ethnicity School Pre/Post Test Gender
TMAS difference Pearson Correlation -,272(*) .215 -.086 .064
Sig. (2-tailed) .037 .102 .519 .631
N 59 59 59 59
TMAS total Pearson Correlation .021 .088 .054 -.017
Sig. (2-tailed) .701 .107 .321 .769
N 328 338 336 294
ier Included
* Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed).
** Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).
Table 4.2 Demographic TMAS total /TMAS Difference Outlier Removed
Ethnicity School Pre/Post Test Gender
N 291 296 > 296 296
TMAS difference Pearson Correlation .064 .165 -.036 .106
Sig. (2-tailed) .633 .217 .787 .430
N 58 58 58 58
TMAS total Pearson Correlation -.013 .098 .048 -.024
Sig. (2-tailed) .819 .074 .384 .686
N 327 337 335 293
69


Two of the three school principals participated in all professional
development sessions, and one school principal participated in none. To explore
potential implications of these differing levels of principal involvement, mean
difference between school TMAS scores were analyzed using SPSS. Though
means do vary, there is no significant difference between TMAS scores related to
school affiliation. The mean difference analysis results are provided below.
Table 4.3 Mean Differences in TMAS Scores by School
School TMAS difference
Middle School 1 Mean .2381
N 21
Std. Deviation 6.58714
Middle School 2 Mean -1.4286
N 14
Std. Deviation 4.27361
High School Mean 2.5217
N 23
' Std. Deviation 6.66653
In Table 4.3, no significant difference is identified across TMAS score
means and school. However, results indicate the highest mean difference in the
high school and middle school where principals participated in the professional
development activities along with their teachers.
A repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) was conducted, using
SPSS, to examine pre and post-training, between and within subject, variance in
teacher scores on the Teacher Multicultural Assessment Survey (TMAS). Missing
demographic data had a considerable impact in reducing the number of baseline
70


and post-test scores that could be linked by subject. Though the number of teachers
entering the study by taking the baseline TMAS was 209, only 59 sets of baseline
and post-test scores were available for inclusion in the repeated measures ANOVA.
In support of one of the study hypotheses, that the professional development
participation would change teacher attitudes towards diversity, analysis revealed
statistically significant variance in TMAS baseline and post-test scores. ANOVA
results are summarized below:
Table 4.4 TMAS Baseline and Post Test One Wav ANOVA
__________________________Sum of Squares df Mean Square F Sig
Between Groups 1441.836 18 80.102* 2.749 .004
Within Groups 1136.595 39 29.143
Total______________________2578.431 57
*p<.01 . ^ . '
It is not clear whether the studys professional development program
directly influenced teacher.attitudes or whether other events which occurred over
the course of the school year influenced these changes. It would seem from this
data, however, that teacher attitudes towards diversity in their, classrooms may have
improved during the time between baseline and post-test TMAS measures. This
suggests a change in constructs the TMAS is intended to measure, i.e., teacher
awareness of, comfort with and sensitivity to issues of cultural pluralism in the
71


classroom and to identify teachers who see cultural diversity as a strength and
who feel the responsibility to address multicultural issues in the curriculum and in
the teaching/leaming process (Ponterotto, Baluch, Greig, & Rivera, 1998). This
finding is supported by indications of qualitative data yielded from this study.
Student Opinion Survey
Baseline and post-intervention student perceptions of school climate were
measured using a school climate survey called the Opinion Survey for Students
(OSS). Student demographic data were also collected during the survey
administrations; however, of the 3080 student surveys scanned, 2474, or 80%
included identification and demographic data. Comparing student demographics to
teacher demographics yields a discrepancy between ethnic minority representation
in the teacher participant group (19%) and in the student participant group (42%).
This is similar to what is reported in many school districts across the country and
illustrates that an increasingly diverse student population is not reflected in the
demographic profile of their teachers (Delpit, 1995; Howard, 1999). Available
student data are offered in the following demographic figure.
72


60%
40%
20%
0%
Caucasian 53% African Amer 28% Hispanic 5% Asian 1.8% Did Not Report 8%


B

Figure 4.2 Student demographic chart
A Pearson Correlation was run on post test student data to explore
correlations between demographic factors and school climate scores. The data
demonstrates significant correlations (at the .01 level) between OSS score (student
perception of overall school climate) and school, gender and grade level as
recorded in Table 4.5 below. There is evidence of a negative correlation between
ethnicity and school climate score (-.015). Though it is not seen to be significant,
(p=<.447) the correlation suggests that minority students in this study may have
less positive perceptions of school climate than their peers.
Table 4.5 School Climate Total Score Pearson Correlations
Ethnicity School Pre/Post Test Gender. Grade
SC TOTAL Pearson Correlation -.015 .133(**) .113(**) . 103(**) .133(**)
Sig. (2-tailed) .447 .000 .000 .000 .000
N (pre & post test) 2446 2629 2636 1994 2193
** Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).
73


To investigate the direction of the potential correlation between school and
post test School Climate Survey totals, an analysis of the means across schools was
run using SPSS. Results of this analysis reveal mean differences between post-test
scores across schools with the lowest mean scores occurring in Middle School 2,
where the school principal did not participate in any of the 4 professional
development sessions. School climate mean scores by school are provided below
as Table 4.6.
Table 4.6 School Climate Total Across Schools
School SC Score Mean Std. Deviation
MS 1 122.1455 30.89679
MS 2 119.3904 33.21474
HS 121.1709 24.92641
Total 120.7112 29.64817
To determine whether student, perceptions of school climate varied between
the baseline and post-intervention administrations of the instrument, data were
analyzed using a One-Way ANOVA in SPSS. Analysis of variance within group
and between group baseline and post-test total scores reveal a statistically
significant change in survey scores over time (p<.01). ANOVA data are reported
in table 4.7 below.
74


Table 4.7 School Climate Baseline Post-Test Scores One-Way ANOVA
______________________Sum of Squares df Mean Square F Sie
Between Groups 30070.109 1 30070.109 34.175 .000
Within Groups 2317636.754 2634 879.892
Total_________________2347706.863 2635
*p<.01
This result indicates a potential change in student perceptions of school
climate including both the academic and social factors the Opinion Survey for
Students is designed to measure. These data support the research hypothesis that
students will report an improved perception of their school climate because of the
impact of the workshop and collaboration exercises upon teachers sensitivity to
their academic and social needs. The null hypothesis is rejected based on results of
this analysis. ' " .
Qualitative Data
Qualitative data were collected to explore the first two research questions
which deal with the impact of professional development on teacher attitudes. These
included post-intervention teacher focus group transcripts and researcher
observations during the professional development workshop and collaborations.
Due to school district constraints and the limited scope of this dissertation study,
the third research question (which deals with the impact of a professional
75


development program on student perceptions) was not explored in qualitative
terms.
Focus group questions (included at the end of this chapter) were designed to
encourage teachers to broadly discuss the professional development experience.
Teacher comments often wandered from the topic of the original focus group
question. Dialogue subsequently revealed information that seemed to go beyond
the focus group and research questions themselves, to deeper issues of professional
development design and delivery. To clarify the researchers analysis of the focus
group data, a summary table of the researchers primary research questions and
conclusions follows. These are supported by a narrative citing specific focus group
transcript data.
Focus Group Data Analysis
Table 4.8 Qualitative Data Summary
Research Question
Q1. What is the impact of a specific
professional development program (that
encompasses a review of current
literature around multicultural education,
best practice strategies for meeting the
needs of diverse student populations, and
a case-based collaborative approach to
applying those strategies) on teachers
self report of awareness of comfort with
and sensitivity to issues of cultural
diversity in the classroom?
Results Yielded from Qualitative Data
A. Teachers accept and implement
new ideas as a result of professional
development participation. For this
study, these included new ways to
Understand cultural influence on
student behavior
Meet the needs of students with
learning differences
Improve relationships with diverse
students.
76


Table 4.8 Qualitative Data Summary (cont.)
Research Questions Results
B. Teachers can be comforted and
encouraged by discussions with their
peers.
Q2. What is the impact of this specific
professional development program on
teachers sense of responsibility to
address these issues in their teaching?
Q3. What is the impact of this specific
professional development program on
student perceptions of teacher caring
and school climate?
Section 4. Results Related to
Professional Development Design and
Delivery
A. In spite of acknowledging a
responsibility to meet student needs,
teachers express that they are often
overwhelmed by the challenges of the
task.
No qualitative data yielded. Teacher
focus groups were not designed to
investigate this question. Student focus
groups were not conducted due to
district and school constraints. See
quantitative data.
A. Teachers admit they need the help
of more experienced educators to guide
them into higher competence in
meeting student needs.
B. Teachers resist professional
development activities when attendance
is voluntary and may resent them when
attendance is mandatory.
C. Teachers report a tension between
acknowledging the need for and value
of professional development and the
sense that there isnt time for such
activities in their already overloaded
schedules
D. Teachers state a preference for
professional development design that
includes collaborative opportunities to
apply new information and stories to
real-world school and classroom
situations.
77


During focus group discussions, teachers stated a preference for
professional development designs that included opportunities to apply new
information to classroom situations (See Table 4.8,4 C). One high school teacher
expressed it this way:
I hope we will get more opportunities to continue that process. I
loved the process. I enjoyed getting together to talk about a student
in a positive, problem solving way. I dont think we get enough
time to do that. We are so geared towards academics and I think
we need to spend equal time or sometime on Ok this is a child
who is in trouble, what are some strategies we can do to help this
child be more engaged, more successful?
Another teacher agreed:
And thats what I liked. We got to the specifics when we said this
is a real live student, what are we going to do with this real live
student and it was good to hear others input and we have good
ideas, but we are so overwhelmed with all we are doing. We forget
not to just say hello, but we are all educators and we all have ideas
and it is just finding the time, making the time to do it and talk
about the kids some more.
78


Focus group data indicated that teachers appreciate real-world connections
and teaching linked to real-world stories (Table 4.8, Section 4C). One middle
school teacher explained: When you told the personal stories and told us what
happened and what was done, I hear myself in the stories. Personal stories helped
me. I liked hearing those stories and (your) expertise.
Teachers readily admitted they needed the help of more experienced
educators to guide them into higher competence with their students (Table 4.8,4A).
One teacher said,
If we had someone with expertise to help us transition, we could
do a better job. (We wonder) what else can we do? Where else can
we get help? We need you to tell these stories and to say this is
what I have done and this is what happened to this child. We have
gone through all of our resources. What is another resource?
Another said,
Most of us, we care about the kids and we think its awful when we
hear about a circumstance, we dont want a child to be in that
circumstance. What do we do? What is the next step... taking
action and what action to take is the tricky part.
In spite of acknowledging the relevance and value of further professional
development, teachers live in the tension between the value in and need for
79


professional development and the sense that there simply is not time for such
activities in their overloaded schedules (Table 4.8, 4B). When asked if the program
had changed classroom practice, one teacher answered:
I think it changes if (professional development) is based on
strategies and shows that it has worked. When we read a book
about what the problems are, we already know what the problems
are from working with the kids. I think professional development
works.. .when there is time to implement it, when it is not just
throw another meeting on top or throw another book on top and
when it is more personal: Heres how you get to the solutions.
.. .There is not a teacher in this building who doesnt want to get to
those solutions. I think it is just a matter of knowing how and if the
development is designed that way, it works. But a lot of people are
going to be negative at the get go because it is just taking time
away. We are trying the best we can and we want to do the best
we can at what we are doing.
A middle school teacher expressed the conflict in this way:
If you remember way back at the beginning of the year, when we
met in the multi-purpose room when we did the first session. That
was helpful because there was a lot of information. We got a
80


longer period of time to listen and focus and hear explanations
from (the researcher). It started out on a very positive note we
were all looking forward to the in services. But then Tuesdays
were not the best days to do the in-services, even though that is the
only day we have set up for this year to do things. We have
teachers involved with the tutorial sessions, coaches leaving early.
Maybe that wasnt the best time for us, though I dont know when
would have been a better time.
Professional development activities can be considered an intrusion into an
already overloaded schedule. This might cause teachers to resist professional
development activities when attendance is voluntary and to even resent them when
attendance is mandatory (Table 4.8,4B). In the minutes leading up to the first
workshop at one of the participating middle schools where attendance at the first
workshop was required by the principal, three teachers came in to the presentation
room engaged in a heated discussion about how little time they had before the first
day of school, how much they had left to do, and how much they resented being
forced to attend the professional development workshop that was about to begin.
One teacher said explicitly, Doesnt (named the Principal) understand that we just
dont have time for this? During the focus group session, teachers at the high
school expressed having the same initial reaction to beginning the training.
81


However, they seemed to find the training worthwhile in spite of feeling they could
not afford the additional time it would require: I was mad. I thought here is one
more thing, one more exercise. But things came out of it in terms of being able to
collaborate.
This resentment seemed to be present even when teachers felt the content of
the training was worthwhile:
Ill admit that the first meeting we had with (the researcher), I
didnt take any notes. I was there because I was told I had to be
there. And then I regretted it when we met the next time and we
did the case study. I realized this was not about one boy this was
about me becoming a better person and not being judgmental. I
didnt think I was being judgmental, but I realized I was and I
needed to stop that. And I realized I didnt take in as much during
the first meeting. Some of the background and some of the theory
didnt do it, didnt sink in because I was mad about it. And thats
also something I learned about is that my students dont always
get it the first time because they are mad or hungry, but if I keep
up maybe they will get it the first time.
In spite of this teachers admission that she only attended the session
because she was told she had to be there, her last comments seemed to offer
82


evidence of a transformation of thought (Table 4.8, Q1 A). This teacher admitted
to reaching new realizations about her attitudes and demonstrated a willingness to
change her perspective and become a better person. Several teacher comments
offered further evidence of transformed thought, indicating teachers were
approaching new ways of seeing their students and their practice. For example:
Empathy is a thing that helps you to see how to walk in their shoes makes them
feel the door hasnt been shut. Another commented,
Well with the kids we had, we had such a mix... but it was interesting
because I had never thought how to reach these kids before, and I never
knew .. .like some of the things they do... .and say, I didnt realize thats just
how they are, and it opened my eyes quite a bit.
Comments providing further evidence of teachers embracing new ideas as a result
of the workshops included (Table 4.8, Q1 A):
Remember the day we had the case study, there were lots of things
that made me understand what a student was going through. How
can I teach her about something that doesnt matter in her life
when she doesnt even have basic human needs being met?
Another teacher said, Its hard for us to admit as educators that education is not
the most important thing that is going on inside a childs head. It appears that
83


teacher perceptions might be further changed by collaboration opportunities that
are embedded into professional development:
The young man we looked at was living in such poverty, Im sure
education was the least thing because he didnt have enough to eat
or proper things to wear. Thats not something that I ever had to
worry about. I grew up in a not so great situation, but I always had
food to eat and I realized I cant understand this kid without some
help, and the help came from the people at my table.
One teacher reported understanding something new about students who are
learning English for the first time in her middle school classroom:
I thought it was great realizing that limited language might limit
what they do. I thought they just shut me down, but (now I know) I
need to present it differently to other language speakers who are
limited in literacy. There are strategies to break through that. I
looked at it as attitude, and it wasnt attitude.. .That was very
helpful.
Changes influenced by this professional development program were not
limited to teacher attitudes and perceptions. It appears that school training
programs might have been impacted as well. Several teachers and two principals
expressed intent to continue the collaborative meetings after this research project:
84


If there is one thing I want to take from this, it is the
collaborations. I dont think Ive seen the sharing like I did this
time prior to this year as we had in these sessions. In one group I
was in, a teacher said, Ive done these things and I am not
connecting, and the other teachers gave comfort in saying Youve
done the right things. Youve done all you could do. So I would
like to see the staff development times have some times to talk to
other teachers. Maybe not in the same grade level or subject, but
there are things in high school we dont get to talk about because
we close our doors and do our thing in our little comer of the world
and I think the collaborations change that.
The high school principal had this to say, There are specific strategies and
materials we can use, and we will look at getting some of those things that we
looked at (particularly the Ruby Payne books), but we also need to commit
ourselves to spending time talking with each other again. During the focus group
discussions, the principal of another participating school heard her teachers
requests for more collaborative meetings and promised to continue them into the
next school year.
There is evidence that teachers gained more than just information from the
collaborations. They also seemed to find comfort and encouragement from their
85


discussions (Table 4.8, Q1B): From a professional level, we need to affirm each
other. As a teacher, I think sometimes I am way on the deep end. Having the
ability to talk to each other was the best thing.
One African American administrator expressed his preference for
continuing to seek the outcomes of this particular professional development
program:
In another school, we had training on different races and poverty
and the teachers got offended. I want to commend the faculty that
we did not get that here. This faculty was receptive to
incorporating ideas into the classroom. This was of substance
embracing (the researchers) ideas. Our faculty needs to be
committed to this.
Teachers felt the workshop information was relevant to the students they
saw in their classes:
After attending the initial workshop, a group of five middle school teachers,
who had attended a Ruby Payne workshop, told me they were glad to see this
important information was being shared with others on their staff. One African
American teacher stayed afterwards and stated enthusiastically, You really got to
the root of this. A couple of times I wanted to shout amen!. The middle school
principal then said, I agree. We have had several presentations of this type, but
86


none that took us to this level and got to the heart of the matter. I am looking
forward to our next session.
During the focus group session, one middle school teacher said:
My kids couldve been poster kids for this workshop. I kept seeing
this workshop in my students. Do you have (names a student)?
Well I wish I could have had more time to practice some of the
stuff, like the arrow. It was really interesting and amazing and I
could not figure out how to do it in enough time so that it would
make some sense and actually see something.
Another teacher described the relevance of the workshop this way:
I would like, at some point, to do more of this because, even in our
population of kids who are not particularly in poverty, there is a
poverty of spirit and of family life. Even those who come from two
parent families who are tom in other ways; maybe it is from too
much daycare early on in their lives or too many caregivers or too
much internet or too much TV, you know.
Focus group discussions pointed to a further tension that teachers must
balance. While describing a sense of responsibility for meeting student needs, they
admitted feeling overwhelmed by the immensity of that task (Table 4.8, Q2).
Teachers often cited overcrowded classrooms as a limitation to successful
87


implementation of the workshop strategies: The most frustrating thing for me was
when I heard (the researchers) success stories when working with smaller groups
of kids and those things were inspiring but I wanted to know, How do we apply
this here with 2500 students? One middle school teacher said passionately, I
would love to meet all those needs of all my kids. But I cant, and thats the part
what hurts the most. I have too many, Im looking at 32 in my home base, not to
mention the 110 others you have in class.
Another example of this tension (Table 4.8, Q2A) is found in the comment:
But of course the teachers are responsible for academic needs,
physical needs, (and) emotional needs. Thats what bothers me,
though, cause its frustrating to me that we cant be all of that, we
need to be all of that and it is very emotionally draining. I think
thats the big thing and I can understand why teachers get burned
out and turn off because how much of it can you take? And then
what do you have for your own kids? Sometimes my own kids will
be upset with me You care more about those kids.
Recommendations for changing the format of the collaboration groups
included delivering the information in smaller, more specific bites, streamlining the
process to allow discussion of more students, and creating smaller groups. One
teacher said:
88