Academic journal article Journal of Teacher Education

Teachers' Approaches toward Cultural Diversity Predict Diversity-Related Burnout and Self-Efficacy

Academic journal article Journal of Teacher Education

Teachers' Approaches toward Cultural Diversity Predict Diversity-Related Burnout and Self-Efficacy

Article excerpt

The increasingly culturally diverse nature of contemporary Western societies poses a growing challenge upon schools working with a plural student body. In the present study, we focus on one source of diversity, namely, the presence of immigrants and nonimmigrants in class. Among the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) countries, in 2015, the greatest proportion of school students with immigrant background was found in Luxembourg (52.0%), followed by, among others, Canada (30.1%), Australia (25.0%), the United States (23.1%), and the United Kingdom (16.7%), who were above the OECD average (11.4%). Below the OECD average were Norway (12.0%), Denmark (10.7%), Czech Republic (3.4%), Mexico (1.2%), and finally Korea (0.1%) (OECD, 2015). This study was conducted in Israel, which has one of the highest proportion of culturally diverse students in its schools (17.5%; OECD, 2015).

The present study was undertaken in light of the fact that understanding and managing diversity in general, and in the school context in particular, is more important than ever. Teachers are the primary actors that must negotiate the diversity of the school on a daily basis (Fortuin, Van Geel, Ziberna, & Vedder, 2014), and thus it is important to examine their orientations toward cultural diversity and to work with immigrant students. In it, we applied to the educational context a conceptualization and operationalization of approaches toward diversity, informed by theory and research models on diversity developed in organizational studies. Our aim was to examine the ways in which, and the extent to which, teachers' orientations toward cultural diversity are related to two major psychological outcomes linked to their work with immigrant students--namely, diversity-related burnout and immigration-related self-efficacy.

Diversity in Organizations

Diversity can be conceptualized as any significant difference that distinguishes one individual from another (Kreitz, 2008), including demographics, culture, values, and organizational differences (Podsiadlowski, 2007). Most theory and research on diversity in organizations emphasizes understanding and managing diversity, with the aim of reducing or eliminating discrimination and biases, on one hand, and maximizing the inclusion and contributions of individuals, increasing social justice and equity, and providing for greater organizational success to benefit from differences, on the other (Ferdman & Sagiv, 2012).

Several models have been proposed for mapping approaches to diversity. Podsiadlowski and colleagues (Podsiadlowski, Groschke, Kogler, Springer, & van der Zee, 2013; Podsiadlowski, Otten, & van der Zee, 2009) proposed five perspectives, which are a refined and empirically tested version of the model proposed by Dass and Parker (1999): organizations holding a color-blind perspective focus on equal opportunities without acknowledging potential differences; the integration and learning perspective sees diversity as creating a learning environment benefiting the organization and its employees; organizations characterized by fairness ensure equal treatment through specific support for minority groups; organizations characterized by access see diversity as providing entry to diverse international markets; and organizations reinforcing homogeneity believe in rejecting cultural diversity in favor of a homogeneous workforce. This typology is driven from an external, rather "imposed" ("top down"), classification of diversity.

The previous models emphasized the actual diversity, that is, the extent to which the organization is heterogeneous. However, we would like to argue that it is the perceived diversity of members in the organizations, rather than actual diversity, which has a stronger impact on the organizations and its members. The Diversity in Organizations: Perceptions and Approaches model (denoted DOPA; Horenczyk & Tatar, 2011; Tatar, 2012) was developed based on the perceptions of the individuals in the organization ("bottom up"). …

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