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Diversity in Education 1

Diversity in Education: A Content Analysis


Laura Hall
Professor Sunah Cho
ETEC 500
January 25, 2015

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In Preparing Preservice Teachers in a Diverse World, Lenski, Crawford,
Crumpler, and Stallworth (2005) investigate the impacts of an ethnographic approach to
creating more culturally sensitive preservice teachers at a Midwestern university in the
US. The study was developed to address the need in the education system to establish
ways to acknowledge and broaden cultural diversity in the curriculum. Specifically, their
aim is to improve habit of mind in preservice teachers, defined as, to incorporate an
understanding and valuing of students cultures and recognition of the need to consider
those cultures in teaching practices (Lenski, Crawford, Crumpler & Stallworth, 2005, p.
437).
The subjects involved in this qualitative study were chosen from a sampling
composed of 28 preservice teachers. Lenski et al. framed their research using an
ethnographic approach to help preservice teachers gain insight into the communities and
the cultures of their students. They achieved this through participatory observation
immersing themselves in the community and interacting with community members.
Lenski et al. conducted their yearlong study by periodically collecting data from
preservice teachers observations, reflections, and papers along with interviews with six
teachers.
Lenski et al. determine that there is an improvement in preservice teachers
understanding of diversity through evidence of achieving habit of mind. At the end of
the yearlong study, preservice teachers were better equipped with a sense of the
importance of being culturally sensitive in the classroom by expanding their
understanding of diversity beyond race to look at gender, socioeconomics, religion, etc.
Lenski et al. conclude that: The data from this study suggests that participant

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observation and ethnographically informed approaches embedded within teacher
preparation courses could be the key element in developing more effective ways to
address culture and cultural diversity in teacher education (Lenski et al., 2005, p. 440).
While I consider the application of habit of mind to develop preservice
teachers understanding of cultural diversity in a classroom to be a significant topic for
analysis, there are several aspects of the study that concern me. The foundation of habit
of mind is effective in theory, however it lacks depth with respect to application in
teaching. This study makes no reference to an education system that is failing to create
this environment or the students being negatively affected by teachers who are not
culturally sensitive in the classroom. I believe that it would be more useful to examine the
current curriculum for cultural sensitivity rather than individual teachers. In theory,
habit of mind is highly impactful, however, the article makes no mention of how to aid
preservice teachers to incorporate these perspectives into their daily practices.
The number of subjects and the sampling methodology skew the validity of the
study. In fact, the study contradicts itself within the description of the grouping. Lenski et
al. emphasize a need to look at more than race within the confines of habit of mind to
include the framework of gender, religion, socioeconomic background, etc The article
only addresses gender and race within the descriptions of the grouping; therefore, not
providing a well-rounded analysis of the preservice teachers. As a result of their
grouping, I believe that Lenski et al. have limited the scope of their data collection
making it challenging to conclude a successful development of the habit of mind
principle in preservice teachers.

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Another point of concern is how Lenski et al. have collected and analysed data to
measure success of their research. Through the use of the qualitative framework in their
study, Lenski et al. look specifically at interviews and personal responses from the
preservice teachers to measure success. Both could be greatly influenced by the bias of
the researchers collecting data. I believe that a more succinct and reproducible approach
needs to be taken in a study such as this. Elements of qualitative and quantitative
research, such as surveys and precise questionnaires should be incorporated. This would
allow future researchers to recreate the study to test for validity allowing individuals
doing background research to identify bias. The lack of these elements takes away
validity of research as there is not an unbiased measure of success.
Overall, the qualitative research conducted by Lenski et al. is of value in the field
of education. Lenski et al. manage to portray insight into the need to develop a clearer
sense of cultural sensitivity in the education system through the training of preservice
teachers in the context of the surrounding communities.

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References
Lenski, S.D., Crawford, K., Crumpler, T. & Stallworth, V. (2005). Preparing Preservice
Teachers in a Diverse World, Action in Teacher Education, 27(3), pp. 3-12
Manassas, VA.