Term

Spring 2017

Capstone

Thesis

Degree Name

MAEd

Primary Advisor/Dissertation Chair

Laura Halldin

Secondary Advisor/Reader One

Joyce Bell

Peer-Reviewer/Reader Two

Julie Landsman

Abstract

My personal experience as a White educator in racially diverse classrooms led me to choose my capstone topic and develop my research question: “What core knowledge, essential skills, and experiences do White teachers believe have effectively prepared them to teach racially diverse students?” Based on my literature review, I chose five concepts and theories that I considered connected to my research capstone. Critical Race Theory was the overarching theory that provided related concepts of Racial Realism, Critical White Studies, and Colorblindness. A newer concept that I included, Equity Literacy, provided tools for teachers to consider and use. I used a mixed-methods approach to my research, gathering quantitative data from an online survey and qualitative data from in-person interviews with two cohorts of White teachers. I recruited one group of ten teachers with five or more years of experience and one group of four new teachers who graduated in May 2016. With the survey, I collected demographic data and also determined participants’ awareness of the five concepts and theories. My Interviews provided first-hand narratives of teachers’ personal and professional experiences. I found a general lack of core knowledge related to the five racial theories and concepts. The awareness participants had acquired came from non-academic sources, in the case of first-year teachers, or professional development, in the case of experienced teachers. Second, I found a lack of skills needed to counter racial bias in the classroom and the educational system. Participants also expressed a lack of confidence in navigating racial equity topics in the classroom, as well as a sense of fear or guilt around possibly being called “racist.” Third, I found that participants could recall personal experiences related to race, but they had not been able to process these experiences and integrate them into their teaching, so that they could make equitable changes in the classroom. Program changes in school districts and universities could better incorporate racial equity theories and concepts, preparing teachers more effectively for racially diverse school environments, and helping ensure educational success for all of their students.

Research Methodology

Action Research, Interview, Survey (attitude scale, opinion, questionnaire), Pilot Study

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