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Rethinking the Student Teaching Curriculum to Support the Development of Racial Literacy

Sat, April 14, 8:15 to 9:45am, New York Hilton Midtown, Concourse Level, Concourse D Room


Teacher candidates at our institution are not systematically prepared to notice or address racial bias, discrimination or race-related inequities in their practicum classroom sites or schools. University-based field instructors and school-based clinical educators have reported that candidates struggle with addressing race-related issues and become defensive during race-related conversations (Authors, 2016). The field is clear that justice-based education can disrupt inequities (Larrivee, 2008; Celio, et al., 2011). Teacher educators are responsible for helping candidates build racial literacy skills (Gorski, 2008; Stevenson, 2014). The study is framed by equity and racial literacy skills theories (Coleman & Stevenson, 2014; Michael & Bartoli, 2014; Gorski, 2014). These theorists posit that a set of a skills rather than a cluster of dispositions, beliefs, or personality traits comprise racial literacy.

This study utilizes data from a larger quasi-experimental, mixed-methods study, which was designed to investigate the impact of a revised student-teaching curriculum on teacher candidates’ equity-related knowledge, skills, and beliefs (N=153). The current inquiry provides a deeper dive on aspects of the innovative curriculum that related to racial literacy and candidates’ racial literacy outcomes such as skills development. Specifically, we focused on skills related to noticing and addressing racially charged events, racial bias, and discrimination. The intervention included a full day professional development (building positive racial identities, exploring personal race-related biases, and developing classroom-based race activities to use with school children), a panel event including educational experts, online modules with content and opportunities for discussions about race and schooling.

Pre and post quantitative data (Likert Scale responses) and qualitative data (open ended survey responses) were collected from control (N=83) and treatment group participants (N=35) to discern candidates’ skills at noticing and addressing racialized events in classrooms. Additional qualitative data were collected from the treatment group in the form of online discussion board postings, written reflections, and transcribed post-lesson observation conference transcripts. The main data collection instrument consisted of authentic racialized scenarios that had occurred in practicum classrooms in previous semesters. Participants were asked to judge candidates’ decision making, provide rationales , and pose alternative solutions.

For the larger study, a power analysis was conducted to determine the effect size needed, which revealed a small to medium effect to detect significance difference between the control and treatment group. Following the collection of pre-semester scores we checked for baseline equivalency, which we found. We completed a multivariate analysis of variance and multivariate analysis of covariance. For the race-based scenario data, descriptive statistics showed an increase in treatment scores (4.29) versus the control (2.57). MANOVA findings were significant at p<.003 (Pillai’s Trace) with a medium effect size (Partial Eta Squared: .126) and MANCOVA findings were significant at p<.001 with a medium effect size (Partial Eta Squared: .204). Qualitative findings showed that treatment participants used more specific racial vocabulary and increased their ability to notice racialized issues such as oppression of African Americans and were able to address pupils’ use of racial slurs. Specific data samples and the qualitative coding process will be shared in the full paper session.


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