Empirical studies on the preparation of teacher candidates to work in linguistically diverse classrooms are few. Research on the dramatic under-preparation of teachers to instruct English Learner (EL) students makes it clear that more empirical studies are needed to examine the relationship between teacher education programs and candidates' knowledge and skill for working with EL students. This study utilized a mixed methods approach to explore teacher preparation and practice in linguistically diverse classrooms. The teacher preparation component of the study included an analysis of pre and post survey responses and performance assessments from two consecutive cohorts (N=65, and N=61, respectively) of candidates in Stanford's Teacher Education Program (STEP). A mixed design of between and within-subject factors examined how particular teacher candidates, in specific subject specializations and within differing placement sites, responded to an index of questions from the Teacher Education English Learner Survey (TEELS) and achieved on the Performance Assessment for California Teachers (PACT). The study also examined teacher candidate preferences for teaching in classrooms with high numbers of English learners. The teacher practice component utilized a cross-case comparison study design of two STEP graduates from the first cohort to observe their practices as beginning teachers in linguistically diverse classrooms. Student characteristics and school and classroom contexts were also explored to determine how they related to teacher practice in linguistically diverse classrooms. Results of the teacher preparation component of the study found that candidates reported statistically significant increases in opportunities to learn how to work with English language learners over the course of the program. Many of them explored—in depth—selected diagnostic tools to assess English learners' oral and written language proficiency. They considered the differences between conversational and academic English and learned to develop strategies for teaching their subject matter to students with beginning and intermediate English proficiency. The study also found that, on average, candidates with higher numbers of English learners in their student teaching placements reported increased preferences to work in linguistically diverse classrooms as beginning teachers. Findings from the teacher practice component revealed that student teaching placement experiences during a teacher preparation program matters. Results from the cross-case comparison study found that the most significant difference between the more effective teacher and less effective teacher in the linguistically diverse classrooms was the number of English learners in the teachers' prior student teaching placement. Findings from this study highlight the importance of providing teacher candidates with opportunities to work in diverse classrooms during their teacher education programs. While more research is needed to identify specific features of effective clinical placement sites, it appears that placing candidates in field sites that successfully educate high proportions of English learners can provide teacher candidates with the knowledge and skill to educate diverse learners, in turn, shaping their preference and commitment to work with traditionally underserved student populations.
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||DAI-A 70/10, Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Language arts, Bilingual education, English as a Second Language, Teacher education|
|Keywords:||English as a second language, English language learner, Linguistically diverse, Linguistically diverse classroom, Secondary content area, Teacher practice, Teacher preparation|
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