Educational Research and Innovation

Centre for Educational Research and Innovation

2076-9679 (online)
2076-9660 (print)
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This series of books from the OECD's Centre for Educational Research and Innovations provides the results of OECD work on innovation in education.

Also available in French
Educating Teachers for Diversity

Educating Teachers for Diversity

Meeting the Challenge You do not have access to this content

Centre for Educational Research and Innovation

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25 Feb 2010
9789264079731 (PDF) ;9789264079724(print)

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This publication summarises key research findings which can be used to redesign initial and continuing teacher education to help practitioners effectively teach diverse students. It looks at challenges teachers face in OECD countries and presents a range of policies and practices used in various contexts, from countries with long histories of diversity to those with more recent experiences. The key role of evaluation – of teachers, schools and systems – is emphasised. Educating Teachers for Diversity: Meeting the Challenge asks how these insights can inspire continuing educational reform for our changing classrooms, with a special focus on key questions for research, policy and practice.
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  • Foreword
    Increasingly multinational – and hence multicultural – societies have an impact on education and student achievement. Data from PISA 2003 and 2006 indicate that the educational challenges posed by family background, socio-economic context, and migration status are not only strongly linked to student outcomes, they are the main determinants of student performance over and above the influence of the school.* School education must therefore seek to overcome socio-economic inequalities and, at the same time, utilise the benefits that diversity brings to schools and classrooms. A key recommendation from the PISA studies was that schools should do better in building on the emotive capital of immigrant students as a driving source for enhancing their learning. One way in which they can do this is to use the strength and flexibility of their teachers – but of course for this to be effective teachers must receive appropriate support and training.
  • Acknowledgements
    The analytical phase of this project, spanning from December 2007 to September 2009, would not have been possible without the support of the hosts of the expert meetings in Brussels, Belgium (Ministry of Education, Flemish Community) and Genoa, Italy (Regione Liguria, Centro Studi MEDI ). We wish to acknowledge the contribution of the following individuals in organising the meetings from the host side: Gaby Hostens (Belgium), Luiza Ribolzi, Massimiliano Costa, Maurizio Ambrosini, Andrea Torre and Andrea Ravecca (Italy).
  • Executive summary
    Increasingly multicultural societies have an impact on education and student achievement. Educational challenges posed by family background, socio-economic context and migration status are not only strongly linked to student performance, they determine student performance over and above the school’s influence.* Schools and education systems must therefore seek to overcome such inequalities and at the same time harness the benefits that students and teachers from diverse backgrounds bring to classrooms. A successful school system treats diversity as a source of potential growth rather than an inherent hindrance to student performance. It uses the strength and flexibility of its teachers to draw out this potential, and provides them with the appropriate support and guidance to accomplish this task.
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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Context, Concepts and Research

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    • The importance of effective teacher education for diversity
      Increasingly multicultural societies have an impact on education and student achievement. One way to harness the benefits that diversity brings to schools and classrooms is to use the strength and flexibility of teachers – but for this to be effective teachers require appropriate support and training. This chapter presents the main rationale for effective teacher education for diversity. It outlines common challenges and benefits countries are experiencing in their education and training of teachers. It also summarises specific issues faced by teachers in the classroom. In addition to calling for more empirical research on the topic, this chapter seeks to highlight major gaps in our knowledge base. These include the importance of attracting and retaining diverse student teachers (and teachers), better articulating the links between initial and on-going teacher education, supporting lasting change in teacher beliefs and practices, and researching the preparation and practices of teacher educators themselves.
    • On diversity in educational contexts
      This paper explores divergent meanings of diversity and the interrelations between history, tradition and perception. It discusses how long-standing cultural diversity in OECD member countries was handled in the past and highlights new challenges for educational systems stemming from increasing diversity due to migration. Different responses to diversity in the form of multicultural and intercultural education and implications for educational policy and practice are explored. The paper concludes with the role and responsibility of educators and policy makers to address these challenges – guaranteeing the educational achievement of all while strengthening intercultural understanding and social justice.
    • The OECD Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) and teacher education for diversity
      On average across TALIS countries, 47% of teachers report a high or moderate need for professional development for teaching in a multicultural setting. This level of need was found to vary within schools but not as a function of school types or different types of teachers. Professional development programmes therefore should focus on the needs of individual teachers rather than of schools or regions. It is further shown that there is a need to develop a strong evaluative framework capable of providing feedback on all aspects of teaching, particularly those related to diversity. Teachers report that such evaluation and feedback has a positive impact upon their development and leads to changes in their teaching practices. It is argued that an evaluative framework is an effective mechanism to develop teachersf skills and provides policy makers with a cost.effective tool to prioritise specific aspects of school education and foster school improvements.
    • Diversity in education: the importance of disaggregating data
      Changes in migration patterns have radically altered the composition of the student body and challenged the personnel of urban schools over the last generation. Unfortunately, due to the paucity of data and the presence of epistemological conflicts in research, teacher-educators have rarely relied on empirical research to guide them in their decision-making about how to prepare practitioners to meet the needs of increasingly diverse populations. This paper marshals empirical data from a cohort of students in British Columbia, Canada, to demonstrate where gaps in equity among identifiable social groups occur. It also suggests how the results might be used to challenge both teacher and teacher-candidates’ beliefs about schooling and society, as well as teacher-educators’ priorities for preparing teachers for diverse populations.
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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Preparing Teachers for Diverse Classrooms

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    • Diversity and educational disparities
      The most pressing problem facing education today is the persistent pattern of educational disparity which disproportionately affects indigenous peoples, populations of colour, those with lower socio.economic status, and new migrants. This disparity is exacerbated by a continuing lack of diversity among the teaching force, which tends to engage in pedagogic practices more appropriate to monocultural populations. This chapter suggests solutions drawn from gTe Kotahitanga: Improving the Educational Achievement of M.ori students in Mainstream Schoolsh, a government- funded professional development and research project underway in 50 secondary schools in New Zealand. Six main challenges identified include: (i) the hegemony of the status quo, (ii) the primacy of teachersf positioning, (iii) the need for evidence, (iv) the role of power in knowledge construction, (v) the disconnect between pre.service and in.service education, and (vi) the fundamental importance of research in the areas of teaching and teacher education.
    • Attracting and retaining diverse student teachers
      This chapter examines the role that programmes play in the success of students from ethnic minorities by comparing the learning environments of three urban teacher training programmes. Although ethnic diversity of children in the Netherlands has dramatically increased as a result of several post.war waves of migration, this is not reflected in the composition of the teaching staff. In addition, the policy aim to train more students from ethnic minorities as teachers has proven far from simple. Students from minority backgrounds who attend teacher training programmes for primary education are far more likely than native Dutch students to leave before graduation. The research presented here suggests that an open atmosphere in a programme, the presence of career counsellors and internship co.ordinators specifically attuned to diversity issues, and the relative ease of finding internships all serve to increase the educational success of these students. The chapter concludes with recommendations for programme climate, guidance and internships.
    • Curriculum planning and development
      While doctoral students in education are taught research skills in their programmes, they are rarely explicitly taught how to plan and develop effective curricula, the types of guiding questions which are important to consider or how to study this process in order to improve practices. In an attempt to address this, the authors use Jackson’s (1968) framework for reflecting on teacher planning. The following questions are addressed: how does a teacher educator plan and develop a curriculum for student teachers? How do teacher educators critically examine their curriculum planning and development practices? What are the central questions, areas of focus and principles essential for consideration in such planning and development? For each phase of the planning process, a series of questions is presented. The principles derived from these questions may serve as a useful heuristic to guide the work of new teacher educators.
    • Intercultural competence teacher-training models
      In order to address the challenges of cultural diversity Italian schools are facing, new initiatives are required in teacher education. This chapter surveys a number of theoretical models to identify the level of intercultural skills of practitioners and proposes a new training programme designed to increase the intercultural skills of teachers and social workers working in multicultural contexts. The experiences of teacher education initiatives at the Catholic University of Milan confirm the programme’s initial assumptions: sensitivity, understanding, a critical reprocessing of personal experience and self-reflection (introspection) are all essential to improving the quality of intercultural skills training. The author argues that these assumptions are especially important in light of the increasing conflict and racism present in Italian schools today.
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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Moving into Practice

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    • From homogeneity to diversity in German education
      Germany is currently changing its self-perception as it shifts from a culturally homogenous nation to a more pluralistic society shaped by immigration. Education is thus evolving to be more inclusive although heterogeneity is still considered a challenge with which to cope rather than a potential strength. This approach can be compared with countries that have longer histories of immigration, such as Canada, having moved from merely "dealing with heterogeneity" to embracing diversity as a resource for education. Teacher education plays a key role in this transition, and there are many approaches it can use to facilitate this shift. These approaches range from increasing the intake of teacher trainees with diverse backgrounds, to applying didactic approaches that will encourage communication about their different identities, to exploring basic philosophical concepts such as diversity, identity and controversy.
    • Teacher education for diversity in Spain
      The school and teacher education systems in Spain have traditionally considered students who were "different" as a problem to be addressed rather than as an opportunity to learn. Recent educational reforms have required not only that diversity be accepted as a reality but have also emphasised it as an asset. These reforms have also stated that teacher education must be redesigned for this to be formally reflected. However, moving from theory to practice is not always easy and changing minds and culture takes time and resources. For a first impression of this process, this chapter looks at the status and role of diversity issues in the curricula of four Spanish universities offering new degrees in teacher education (academic year 2009.10). Initial observations indicate that the system has not yet been reformed successfully and that it could be a result of simply changing discourse instead of practices.
    • School leader approaches to multicultural education
      This chapter critically examines a variety of approaches to diversity in integrated schools (i.e. mixed Catholic and Protestant) in Northern Ireland and considers their implications in the context of the wider debate around multiculturalism. It presents a study of integrated school principals and their responses to diversity in their schools. It furthermore provides a summary of the characteristics of different approaches to integration and how they can be viewed with respect to teacher education. Given the range of possible educational responses to cultural diversity, it is important to determine which are the most contextually relevant in order to encourage their adoption throughout initial and ongoing teacher education. This chapter argues that multiculturalism and multicultural education can provide a valuable frame for analysis of integrated education policy and practice.
    • Classroom practices for teaching diversity
      It is difficult to identify classroom practices for teaching cultural diversity that could be applicable across national and cultural contexts. So much weight in research on ethnic and cultural diversity is given to the environmental, sociological and historical influences which mitigate learning that "universal" strategies are almost unthinkable. The author proposes that teacher education programmes focus on principles to guide classroom practices rather than specific practices themselves. Prospective teachers can be taught how to translate these principles into effective strategies for their particular classroom settings. Four principles are discussed: (i) how beliefs about diversity shape instructional behaviours; (ii) using multiple perspectives in learning about diversity; (iii) multiple techniques to achieve common learning outcomes; and (iv) developing skills to cross borders between different cultural systems. Specific examples are provided to illustrate what these principles look like in actual instructional practice, but the emphasis is on encouraging teachers to develop their own.
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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts The Pending Agenda

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    • Supporting effective practice: the pending agenda
      This chapter focuses on key issues in teacher education for diversity: the system and its governance, strengthening the research base, and improving teaching practice. Gaps in our knowledge and areas for improvement are identified and discussed for each of these areas. Orientations for addressing and improving the current state of affairs are also provided. These orientations are necessarily general as approaches to diversity in teacher education are context-dependent; therefore, it is argued that they should be used as a starting point for further thematic and contextual analysis. Policy makers, educators and research communities are encouraged to consolidate their efforts and resources to provide sound evidence for future decision.making on this important and sensitive topic.
    • Annex A - An international online consultation
      From 17 N ovember 2008 to 17 D ecember 2008 the CERI Teacher Education for Diversity (TED) project ran an online consultation exercise with teachers, student teachers and teacher educators. The goal of this exercise was to hear the voices of practitioners about their experience with diversity in the classrooms, the key challenges they face, as well as their best solutions and creative practices. It should be noted that this was not a representative survey with random sampling within and across countries as that was beyond the reach of both the budget and timeline of this project. The consultation was thus designed to use the voices of the responding practitioners to highlight keys areas for further research.
    • Biographies of contributing authors
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