Ethnography of Pre-Service Teachers' Beliefs and Practices Regarding Working with Student Diversity

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Year of publication 2021
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Education

Description Educational research has long questioned how teachers can work effectively with student diversity in heterogeneous classrooms (Banks & Banks, 2004; Booth & Ainscow, 2002; McDonald & Zeichner, 2008). Differences among students spring from a wide range of specifics, be they social, cultural or health related, as well as other diverse individual educational needs based on academic strengths, pace, learning profiles, readiness, etc. It is precisely this diversity that represents a significant professional challenge for teachers who are frustrated in their attempts at dealing with student diversity, often slipping into a one-size-fits-all approach to teaching (Tomlinson, et al., 1998). Working with the wide-ranging needs of students in the classroom can be learned by pre-service teachers especially during their practicum, which is often considered a key element of teacher education (e.g., Korthagen et al., 2001). Pre-service teachers consider their practicum experience to be the most important part of their professional education (Hoffman et al., 2015). However, difference can also be made by how student diversity is addressed in the university curriculum of pre-service teachers. In this paper, we explore the beliefs and practices used by pre-service teachers to tackle student diversity during their practicum and the ways this is facilitated by their participation in university courses. Our main research questions are: What are pre-service teachers’ beliefs and practices in dealing with student diversity? What are the interconnections of the university and lower-secondary schools regarding their treatment of student diversity? In this study we applied an ethnographic methodological design, which allows us to capture in detail the thinking and actions of actors both in the longer term and in everyday contexts (Hammersley & Atkinson, 2007). The research was conducted both in lower secondary schools where pre-service teachers practiced teaching and at a university where they were enrolled. We are inspired by multi-sited ethnography (Marcus, 1995) where the object of study is a phenomenon that can be studied in multiple places, as its main principle is to follow people, associations, connections and relationships between places.
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