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Date of Award

2003

Document Type

Dissertation - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

Department

Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Thomas Nelson

First Committee Member

Marilyn Draheim

Second Committee Member

Harriett Arnold

Third Committee Member

Eleanor Reimer

Fourth Committee Member

John Nagie

Abstract

During the last two decades, the issue of multiculturalism has gained exceptional importance in our schools. Yet, there is a lack of research that examines teachers' beliefs and understanding of multiculturalism and their influence on instructional strategies that are implemented. This study explored how teachers' beliefs and understanding of multiculturalism influence instructional strategies used in classrooms. A sample of ten teachers was selected from three public middle schools within a school district in San Joaquin County in Northern California. In this phenomenological study, intensity sampling was used for the selection of the participants. Out of ten teachers, five taught mathematics and five taught Language Arts. The data consisted of the interviews with each of the teachers, classroom observations, and the examination of instructional materials. Teachers' beliefs and understanding of multiculturalism were usually reflected in the instructional strategies that they utilized. In the analysis of data, the following themes were identified: “The Great Mosaic,” “The Learning Environment for Every Child,” and “Concerns Regarding Multiculturalism.” “The Great Mosaic” theme referred to different cultures that can be found in a classroom and in society. This theme dealt with teachers' beliefs regarding cultural diversity and their practices with which they attempted to address it. “The Learning Environment for Every Child” theme reflected teachers' beliefs about creating an environment where all students could learn. It also showed how teachers attempted to create such an environment. The “Concerns Regarding Multiculturalism” theme conveyed the concerns expressed by teachers about multiculturalism. Teachers explained that different problems related to multiculturalism still existed in society and schools and that improvement was necessary. This study has shown that teachers possessed certain beliefs and had some understanding of multiculturalism. Areas that need improvement were also revealed. These areas include, for example, the definition of multiculturalism and teachers' knowledge of instructional strategies, which foster multiculturalism, and of criteria for selecting multicultural content. The findings of this study have also shown that an in-depth understanding of multiculturalism is necessary.

Pages

273

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