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PHD - Doctor of Philosophy




Educational literature suggests an increasingly diverse student population could benefit from culturally responsive teaching practices to ameliorate gaps in educational opportunity, yet teachers face challenges given the developmental and contextual factors necessary for success with this approach. To gain insight into how teachers may be supported implementing equitable instruction, this dissertation investigates the experiential and educational factors that may foster the development of teaching philosophies and practices for a pluralistic and democratic society. Three major bodies of research place this research within a theoretical context including critical pedagogy, culturally relevant pedagogy, and transformative learning theory. This study addressed the following research questions: 1. What are teachers’ perceptions regarding the need for culturally responsive teaching? 2. How do teachers’ experiences, education, and professional development influence their perceptions? Utilizing a qualitative research approach, a collective case study was designed to inform these research questions. Consistent with constructivist approaches to research, the knowledge generated from this inquiry was co-constructed with a sample of eight elementary teachers. Primary sources of data included two semi-structured interviews, participant-selected artifacts, discussion of a teaching case, and a written reflection. General inductive analysis was utilized to uncover significant themes and ultimately five key findings were identified. The paramount finding indicated that learning to teach in more equitable ways was an ongoing process for teachers in this study. With varying levels of comfort and understanding of culturally relevant pedagogy, all were engaged along a continuum of developing awareness, examining theirpractices and the educational structures that privilege some members of society, as well as acting within their spheres of influence. Several factors enabled teachers to develop their understanding and advocate for students: opportunities for critical reflection and dialogue regarding dilemmas of practice, transformative learning experiences during pre-service and in-service education, and supports from their district. These findings indicate that the process teachers go through to learn culturally responsive teaching involves a transformative and philosophical shift in ideology. Humility, curiosity, and open-mindedness enabled teachers to view their equity work as partial and ever-evolving. The knowledge generated from this inquiry offers insights for schools of education and professional development initiatives regarding how equitable teaching may be supported and facilitated through cultural humility.



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