Culturally responsive pre-service teacher development: A case study of the impact of community and school fieldwork

Date of Completion

January 2005


Education, Bilingual and Multicultural|Education, Teacher Training|Education, Curriculum and Instruction




Multicultural students have disproportionately underachieved in school, unchecked by traditional partnership school fieldwork experiences preparing future teachers. Teachers' development of multicultural competence is imperative for reversing achievement trends. Culturally responsive teaching (CRT) comprises what practitioners and researchers believe to be the best practices for teaching and learning. Part of the challenge to develop a culturally responsive teaching force becomes the responsibility of teacher education programs to find more comprehensive programs for pre-service teachers. ^ A supported field experience constitutes the most emphatic experience before actual work in a classroom. Although useful in preparing prospective teachers in many areas, the strategy of placing pre-service teachers in partnership school settings has been criticized as being “not sufficient” for developing CRT traits. Community service learning fieldwork has been shown to fill the cultural gaps of school isolated fieldwork experiences. However, there is a lack of research examining the impact of school-community fieldwork on pre-service teachers' CRT. Assessing pre-service teachers' multicultural education knowledge and skills; attitudes, beliefs and expectations; and cultural awareness/racial identity, this study examined supported school-community fieldwork learning experiences to understand how these particular fieldwork strategies affect CRT development. ^ The University of Connecticut's Neag School of Education provides partnership school-community supported fieldwork experiences within the priority Connecticut urban school district and community of Windham. These experiences are final full year internships for students who have completed student teaching and reflect the agendas of National Network for Educational Renewal, Holmes Partnership and service-learning programs. Data was collected for four participants enrolled in Windham internships using the (MECCA) Multicultural Education and Cultural Competency Assessment survey in conjunction with interview, observation, focus group, and journal writing. Through grounded theory analysis, case study narratives were provided on each participant's CRT development and program CRT development affect. ^ Case study results suggested that fieldwork components had minimal affect on participants' CRT development. The manner in which participants pursued personal learning within their program inhibited their respective CRT development. Not successfully challenging participants to unlearn their approach, fieldwork program components reinforced the non-significant CRT growth trends demonstrated in case studies. ^