Connecting Multicultural Education Theories With Practice: A Case Study of an Intervention Course Using the Realistic Approach in Teacher Education

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  • This article was downloaded by: [Gebze Yuksek Teknoloji Enstitsu ]On: 20 December 2014, At: 14:25Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH,UK

    Bilingual Research Journal:The Journal of the NationalAssociation for BilingualEducationPublication details, including instructions forauthors and subscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/ubrj20

    Connecting MulticulturalEducation Theories WithPractice: A Case Study of anIntervention Course Using theRealistic Approach in TeacherEducationDario J. Almarza aa University of Missouri-ColumbiaPublished online: 22 Nov 2010.

    To cite this article: Dario J. Almarza (2005) Connecting Multicultural EducationTheories With Practice: A Case Study of an Intervention Course Using theRealistic Approach in Teacher Education, Bilingual Research Journal: TheJournal of the National Association for Bilingual Education, 29:3, 527-539, DOI:10.1080/15235882.2005.10162850

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  • 527Connecting Education Theories With Practice

    Connecting Multicultural Education Theories WithPractice: A Case Study of an Intervention

    Course Using the Realistic Approachin Teacher Education

    Dario J. AlmarzaUniversity of Missouri-Columbia

    Abstract

    This paper reports on a 2-year-long research conducted under aqualitative research design. The study investigated the effectivenessof an immersion course that followed a realistic approach onpreservice teachers deconstruction of negative and preconceivednotions held about culturally and linguistically diverse students.Specifically, the study involved White female preservice teachersshadowing culturally and linguistically diverse students for asemester and reflecting on the experience. The study providespersuasive accounts by the participant preservice teachers on thepositive effects the courses approach had on both their multiculturalperceptions and their ability to connect theory with practice.

    Introduction

    The need and urgency to more effectively prepare teachers to meet theacademic and personal success of racially, culturally, socioeconomically, andlinguistically diverse students in the public schools has received and continuesto receive a great deal of attention in the educational landscape (Buttery,Haberman, & Houston, 1990; Darling-Hammond, 1997; Delpit, 1992; Gay, 2000;Nieto, 2000). In teacher education, the response to that pressing need hasbeen to include multicultural education courses in the teacher educationprograms (Goodwin, 1997; Grant, 1994; Zeichner, Grant, Gay, Gillette, Valli,&Villegas, 1998). However, most of the programs have followed the traditionaltheory-then-practice paradigm. It is assumed that preservice teachers, byvirtue of being exposed to relevant theories in multicultural education, will beable to transfer those theories into practice and become effective teachers for

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  • 528 Bilingual Research Journal, 29: 3 Fall 2005

    diverse learners. Research shows that those theoretical courses have beenparticularly ineffective in changing preservice teachers beliefs about diversityand students of diverse backgrounds (Ahlquist, 1991; Deering & Stanutz,1995; Goodwin; Grant & Koskela, 1986; Ladson-Billings, 1991; McDiarmid,1990; McDiarmid & Price, 1993; Moore & Reeves, 1992), enhancing preserviceteachers culturally relevant teaching (Goodwin; Guillaume, Zuniga-Hill, &Yee, 1995; Zeichner et al.), and promoting critical reflections upon diversityissues within a broader sociopolitical context (Goodwin; McIntosh, 1988;Sleeter, 1995).

    To overcome those shortcomings in multicultural formation, some teachereducation programs have developed field experiences in which preserviceteachers are placed in schools with students of diverse backgrounds (Banks& Banks, 1996; Bennett, 1995; Chvez-Chvez, 1995; Cochran-Smith, 1991,1995; Colville-Hall, MacDonald, & Smolen, 1995; Freire, 1970; Giroux, 1988;Hooks, 1994; Nieto, 2000; Sleeter, 1996; Vavrus, 1994). However, placingpreservice teachers in a diverse setting alone does not guarantee anyimprovement in either preservice teachers ability to connect multiculturaltheories with practice or their effectiveness in dealing with diversity andmulticultural issues. In most of the cases, preservice teachers are asked toperform just routine tasks, and therefore they cannot experience multiculturalsituations that could be connected with the theory they are being exposed toin the college courses. In addition, many teacher educators do not connectthe college course with the field component. All these factors make it hard forpreservice teachers to learn how to connect theory with practice.

    In order to solve the disconnection between theory and practice, it hasbeen suggested the implementation of a realistic approach (Korthagen, 2001;Korthagen & Kessels, 1999) in which preservice teachers are asked toexperience multicultural situations and reflect on them before they discussthose situations with the teacher educator. However, there is no empiricalevidence that corroborates the benefits of this approach. Therefore, the purposeof the study was to uncover the perceptions that White female preserviceteachers had on the effectiveness of a multicultural course that followed therealistic approach to connect field practices with college theories.

    Theoretical Background

    The succinct review of the literature that follows provided a theoreticalframework for considering the connections preservice teachers typically makebetween multicultural education theory and practice. It also served as a lensfor viewing the results and implications of the four-semester study of amulticultural course in which the practices and challenges of preserviceteaching, particularly in regard to implementing multicultural education thatconnects theory with practice, were explored.

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  • 529Connecting Education Theories With Practice

    Since its insertion in the teacher education program, the multiculturaleducation course has been mainly taught using a traditional approach,lecturing about multicultural theories and issues. Knowledge aboutmulticultural teaching, as many other subjects, has been thought of as acreated subject and not as a subject to be created by the learners, that is, thepreservice teachers (Korthagen & Kessels, 1999).

    As mentioned earlier, the literature on teacher education notes thatpreservice teachers learn from their college courses a substantial amount oftheories, including multicultural education theories, as well as other strategiesand methods for teaching, but they are seldom able to apply that knowledgein everyday teaching practice (Korthagen & Kessels, 1999). This inability canbe explained by making a distinction between what Korthagen and Kessels,following Aristotle, called episteme and phronesis. Epistemic knowledgeconsists of general and abstract conceptions that apply to a wide range ofsituationstheory with a big T. When, for example, most of the multiculturaleducation proponents think about theories of multiculturalism, they arethinking about epistemic knowledge. Phronesic knowledge, on the other hand,is theory with a small t; it is situation-specific and related to the context inwhich a teaching problem is experienced. Whereas episteme is conceptual,phronesis is perceptual and focuses on features of the situation that willsuggest appropriate action. Korthagen and Kessels said that episteme aimsprimarily at helping us to know more about many situations, whereas theemphasis o