Academic journal article Journal of Educational and Developmental Psychology

Student Teaching Experience in Diverse Settings, White Racial Identity Development and Teacher Efficacy

Academic journal article Journal of Educational and Developmental Psychology

Student Teaching Experience in Diverse Settings, White Racial Identity Development and Teacher Efficacy

Article excerpt


This study examined how diversity of field placement affected White student teachers' White racial identity (WRI) development, and the relationship between WRI and teacher efficacy. There was no change in WRI development regardless of placement; however, as the percentage of students of color in the placement increased, two subscales (instructional strategies, classroom management) of the Teacher Sense of Efficacy Scale (TSES) decreased. A negative correlation existed between WRI (Pseudo-Independence and Contact subscales of the White Racial Consciousness Development Scale-Revised) and subscales of the TSES. Results indicate that teacher preparation programs critically examine Whiteness and WRI as a construct.

Keywords: teacher efficacy, white racial identity, diversity, student teaching

1. Introduction

A significant number of teachers in the United States continue to be from European-American and middle or upper-class backgrounds, whereas the student population has become increasingly diverse (Howard, 2010). The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES, 2011) reported that almost half of the United States student population in 2008-2009 was non-White. The racial/ethnic distribution of full-time teachers shifted slightly between 1999-2000 and 2007-08, with only a slight increase in teachers who were Hispanic, and no significant changes in teachers who were Black (NCES, 2011).

Over the past few decades, researchers have begun to explore and understand the role that race plays in the teaching and learning process. Although unintentional, many White teachers "participate in the reproduction of racial inequality" (Hyland, 2005, p. 429) when teaching students of color. A large body of research has been devoted to helping teachers understand multiculturalism or culturally relevant teaching (Au, 2009; Haviland, 2008; Jones, 2006; Solomon, Portelli, Daniel, & Campbell, 2005), and teacher education coursework on multiculturalism is common. However, less is known about how White future teachers construct their own White racial identity (WRI) or how WRI influences a teacher's efficacy for working with students of color. Past research (Buehler, Ruggles-Gere, Dallavis, & Shaw-Haviland, 2009; Howard, 2010; Ruggles-Gere, Buehler, Dallavis, & Shaw-Haviland, 2009) indicates that educators who are White and middle class face obstacles as educators of children in diverse settings. Therefore, the purpose of our study was to examine how diversity of field placement affected student teachers' White racial identity development, as well as the relationship between White racial identity and teacher efficacy (TE).

1.1 Review of Literature

The programs and processes that are in place at American universities to educate and prepare teachers for their chosen profession have been at the forefront of the United States Department of Education's focus on teacher quality and the goal to improve performance of urban students of color (Ogbu, 2003). To achieve this goal, educators have enacted several strategies including school restructuring, changes in assessment requirements, raising standards and mandating improvement in teacher qualifications.

1.1.1 Urban Students of Color

Educational reform efforts have been created with the goal to reduce the achievement gap between suburban and urban students of color and their White peers (Howard, 2010; Kafer, 2001). These efforts, however, have not provided the mechanism for urban teachers to either improve the academic performance of students of color or the quality of their schools (Denbo & Moore, 2002; Kafer, 2001). A qualified teacher is significant for improving student achievement, yet qualification alone is insufficient for enacting change in student performance (McKeachie & Svinciki, 2006). Comer (2004) sees the role of the teacher as critically important; however, teachers must also be prepared to address the changing demographics of school communities and the academic and cultural needs of the diverse students they serve (Kyukendall, 2004; Rychly & Graves, 2012; Tomlinson, 2001). …

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