Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Teacher Perceptions of Multicultural Issues in School Settings

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Teacher Perceptions of Multicultural Issues in School Settings

Article excerpt

This study employed qualitative methods to analyze teacher's level of multicultural understanding and perceptions of cultural issues when discussing their culturally diverse students in the context of the consultation process. Three school psychologists in urban city high schools, engaged in audio-recorded consultation sessions with consultee-teachers who voluntarily sought services. Audio-recorded tapes of consultation sessions were transcribed and coded by two trained raters and qualitatively analyzed by co-researchers who recorded multicultural thematic issues as categories. Cultural themes and categories indicated that teachers demonstrated cultural awareness and sensitivity regarding their culturally diverse students, yet showed less developed cultural knowledge-base and skill levels. The study's methodological approach utilized a multicultural coding system that may be used to qualitatively identify cultural issues/themes of concern as a tool for assessing multicultural competency levels in consultation. Key Words: Qualitative Methods, School Consultation, Multicultural Consultation, Consultee-Centered Consultation, Multicultural Competency, Multicultural Education, Consultation Coding System, Multicultural Competency Assessment, Audio-Recording, Teacher Perceptions, and Culturally Diverse Children


As the ethnic composition of the United States continues to increase, the prospect that more educators will work with a diverse student population is quickly becoming a reality. To date, researchers (Banks, 2002; Ladson-Billings, 2001; McLaren, 1997; Ramos-Sanchez, Atkinson, & Fraga, 1999; Sue, Bingham, Porche-Burke, & Vasquez, 1999) have observed that there continues to be a need for multicultural-oriented competent educators in the United States. Consequently, teacher multicultural education (Banks, 2002; Gollnick & Chinn, 2002; Ladson-Billings, 2001) is now assumed to be an essential component of an educators' repertoire. Many university training programs have incorporated multicultural education courses in their programs (Banks & Banks, 1995). Furthermore, numerous texts have been published on multicultural instructional strategies for teachers to utilize that serve to increase teachers' cultural awareness, knowledge, and skills. Moreover, as a result of multicultural education advocacy and the influx of literature available in this instructional area, an important component of any multicultural competent educator's training requires having knowledge of teaching strategies for racial/ethnic minority (Banks, 2002; Gay, 2000; Howard, 1999; Ladson-Billings, 1999; Nieto, 1999).

In this respect, multicultural competence has been defined as requiring three increasing levels of understanding: awareness, knowledge, and skills (Atkinson, Morton, & Sue, 1998; Pedersen, 1988; Sue, 2001; Sue, Arredondo, & McDavis, 1992).

Consequently, educators should be prepared to observe, discern, and discuss their culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) students' problems with the required cultural awareness, knowledge, and skills. It is with this foresight that the present study explored teachers' perceptions of multicultural issues relating to their (CLD) students within urban city high schools. The following inquiries were envisioned: 1) What are the general topics of concern or themes that teachers discuss or discern regarding their everyday interactions with their CLD students?, 2) Do a number of thematic categories emerge in terms of these concerns that can be linked to the theoretical research literature?, and 3) What is the level of multicultural competence reflected by teachers' perceptions of these issues (i.e., cultural sensitivity, knowledge, and skills)?

Correspondingly, an investigation of teachers' multicultural issues and/or concerns may be accomplished through the services of a school psychologist during school-based consultation sessions with consultee-teachers (Behring, Cabello, Kushida, & Murguia, 2000; Behring & Ingrahm, 1998; Erchuls & Martens, 2002; Nastasi, 2000). …

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