The Challenge Within : Diversity Training In Teacher Education
Ludwig, Heather Lynn
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The Problem. Because the population of the United States continues to change, and schools must adjust to meet the challenge of educating a diverse body of students, Teacher Education Programs must look within to identify what characteristics of difference are addressed and how they are addressed to prepare pre-service teachers. Procedure. A survey was electronically emailed to 50 teacher education faculty from three Midwestern Institutions. Frequency counts and percentage data was used to analyze the faculty sample and the instructional strategies used to address characteristics of difference. A Chi Square Goodness of Fit Test was utilized to analyze what instructional methods were used for each the characteristics of difference. Qualitative analysis of data was utilized to clarify and add depth to the findings of the study. Findings. The teacher education faculty who responded to the survey are addressing many characteristics of difference. The number of faculty from individual programs would also indicate that characteristics of difference are not limited to only one diversity course in those programs. The majority of the Teacher Education Faculty when addressing characteristics of difference avoided instructional strategies that were student-focused, but reported teacher-led, "tell and talk" instructional strategies most often. Recommendation. Additional research is needed to identify specific strategies and activities for each of the characteristics of difference. Encouraging faculty to be reflective about their own worldview and how this impacts the classroom, to participate in professional development opportunities and to work as a team to establish what characteristics of difference are actually being addressed will increase diversity awareness and strengthen the teacher education program. Pre-service teachers should have more field experience that includes exposure to and interaction with diverse populations. Change occurs when pre-service teachers have experiences with diversity and the opportunity to reflect about values, beliefs, and their own personal experiences with the characteristics of difference.
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