English, Literature, and Modern Languages Faculty Publications

Title

The Challenge of Altering Elementary School Teachers' Beliefs and Practices Regarding Linguistic and Cultural Diversity in Science Instruction

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

11-2007

Journal Title

Journal of Research in Science Teaching

Volume

44

Issue

9

First Page

1269

Last Page

1291

Abstract

This study examined the impact of a professional development intervention aimed at helping elementary teachers incorporate elements of students’ home language and culture into science instruction. The intervention consisted of instructional units and materials and teacher workshops. The research involved 43 third- and fourth-grade teachers at six elementary schools in a large urban school district. These teachers participated in the intervention for 2 consecutive years. The study was conducted using both quantitative and qualitative methods based on focus group interviews, a questionnaire, and classroom observations. The results indicate that as teachers began their participation in the intervention, they rarely incorporated students’ home language or culture into science instruction. During the 2-year period of the intervention, teachers’ beliefs and practices remained relatively stable and did not show significant change. Possible explanations for the limited effectiveness of the intervention are addressed, and implications for professional development efforts are discussed.

Keywords

Education, elementary education, elementary teachers, cultural diversity, linguistic diversity