Date of Conferral

1-1-2011

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Psychology

Advisor

Tammy Root

Abstract

The U.S. population is rapidly diversifying, with the expectation that culturally diverse groups---including students---will outnumber European Americans by the year 2050. In contrast, public school teachers are expected to remain largely middle class, female, and Caucasian. Most multicultural education research has focused on cultural diversity in urban education settings. However, a gap in the literature has existed regarding student diversity and teachers' culturally responsive teaching in predominantly rural areas. In this study, Appalachian elementary school teachers shared their perspectives and experiences on effective multicultural teaching. An important gap has been bridged by using a 3-part theoretical framework, based on critical reflection, scaffolding, and perspective taking, related to the main research questions regarding (a) the qualities and experiences that in-service public school teachers possess that allow them to effectively teach students from a variety of backgrounds, and (b) what in-service teachers suggest for improving teacher preparation to meet the challenges of cultural diversity in schools. A qualitative, phenomenological approach anchored in a constructivist paradigm was used to gather voice data via a digital voice recorder from 8 participants. Semi structured, open-ended interviews were conducted to collect the data, followed by transcription and analysis. Data analysis resulted in the discovery of 5 themes related to the research questions and revealed mapping onto the conceptual framework. Social change implications can result in improved teacher education programs in rural areas and can enhance collaboration with professional development schools to improve pre-service teacher preparation for teaching diverse students.