Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Exploring intercultural understanding through global children's literature and educator study groups
by Corapi, Susan, Ph.D., The University of Arizona, 2014, 350; 3635959
Abstract (Summary)

Engagement with global children's literature is an effective way to introduce multiple perspectives into the classroom dialogue. Yet teachers are often unfamiliar with ways of helping students understand diverse cultural practices and beliefs. The result is that global children's literature continues to be an underused resource.

This action research study looked at 25 highly diverse educator study groups as they used global literature with pre-K - 12 students. The goal was to support the development of intercultural understanding. The study groups received $1,000 grants from Worlds of Words (wowlit.org) to fund their yearlong inquiry. The groups met face-to-face throughout the year to reflect on the interactions taking place in their classrooms. All groups met online on a members-only site. Data collected included proposals, reports, teacher vignettes, and interviews. The data was used to document range of study group structures and interactions with global literature. The study groups and online forum were supported by a grant from the Longview Foundation.

Through constant comparative analysis, new transformative understandings were identified. Key elements in the development of intercultural understanding included open inquiry, recognition of complexity and multiple perspectives, thinking about culture at a conceptual level, and engaging in open dialogue. Teachers reported an increased understanding of their competence as professionals, their student's competence as problem-posers and thinkers, and the parents' competence as important contributors to intercultural understanding.

The study concludes with implications for practitioners wanting to engage in classroom inquiries using global literature to support developing intercultural understanding. A second set of implications suggests ways in which the study group process can be made more effective. New questions are proposed for future research related to the use of global literature in various contexts, including classrooms, online professional development, and libraries.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Short, Kathy
Commitee: Gonzalez, Norma, Nicholas, Sheilah E., Waugh, Linda R.
School: The University of Arizona
Department: Language, Reading & Culture
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: DAI-A 76/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Comparative literature, Reading instruction, Curriculum development
Keywords: Children's literature, Classroom dialogue, Educator study groups, Global literature, Inquiry based learning, Intercultural understanding
Publication Number: 3635959
ISBN: 978-1-321-17300-0
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