Secondary Teacher Attitudes Toward Including English-Language Learners in Mainstream Classrooms

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<ul><li><p>This article was downloaded by: [Uppsala universitetsbibliotek]On: 18 November 2014, At: 19:58Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House,37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK</p><p>The Journal of Educational ResearchPublication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information:</p><p>Secondary Teacher Attitudes Toward Including English-Language Learners in Mainstream ClassroomsJenelle R. Reeves aa University of Nebraska-LincolnPublished online: 07 Aug 2010.</p><p>To cite this article: Jenelle R. Reeves (2006) Secondary Teacher Attitudes Toward Including English-Language Learners inMainstream Classrooms, The Journal of Educational Research, 99:3, 131-143, DOI: 10.3200/JOER.99.3.131-143</p><p>To link to this article:</p><p>PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE</p><p>Taylor &amp; Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (the Content) containedin the publications on our platform. However, Taylor &amp; Francis, our agents, and our licensors make norepresentations or warranties whatsoever as to the accuracy, completeness, or suitability for any purpose of theContent. Any opinions and views expressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors, andare not the views of or endorsed by Taylor &amp; Francis. The accuracy of the Content should not be relied upon andshould be independently verified with primary sources of information. Taylor and Francis shall not be liable forany losses, actions, claims, proceedings, demands, costs, expenses, damages, and other liabilities whatsoeveror howsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with, in relation to or arising out of the use ofthe Content.</p><p>This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Any substantial or systematicreproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing, systematic supply, or distribution in anyform to anyone is expressly forbidden. Terms &amp; Conditions of access and use can be found at</p><p></p></li><li><p>ublic school teachers throughout the United Statesare working with an ever-increasing number ofEnglish-language learners (ELLs). From 1995 to</p><p>2001, the population of students identified as limited Eng-lish proficient (LEP) grew approximately 105% nationwide(Kindler, 2002). An estimated 4.5 million LEP students arecurrently enrolled in K12 public schools in the UnitedStates. Furthermore, census projections estimate continuedlinguistic diversification in the coming decades (U.S. Cen-sus Bureau, 2000). Because the student population is expe-riencing a linguistic shift, education research set in multi-lingual classrooms has become a high priority, andresearchers have explored the perspective of ELLs (Cum-mins, 2000; Fu, 1995; Harklau, 1994, 1999, 2000; Lucas,1997; Lucas, Henze, &amp; Donato, 1990; Mace-Matluck,Alexander-Kasparik, &amp; Queen, 1998; Valdes, 2001;Walqui, 2000). Others have chronicled the professionallives of English-as-a-second-language (ESL) teachers(Creese, 2002; Johnson, 1999; Johnson &amp; Golombek,2002). Markedly absent in the research are mainstreamteacher perspectives on ELL inclusion. The experiences ofsecondary teachers, in particular, have received littleresearch attention. I designed this study to help redress thepaucity of research by examining secondary mainstreamteacher attitudes and perceptions of ELL inclusion.</p><p>Secondary ELLs, particularly those in schools with smallELL populations, typically spend the majority of the schoolday in mainstream1 classes and attend ESL classes for oneor two periods. Yet, teachers in those mainstream class-rooms are largely untrained to work with ELLs; only 12.5%of U.S. teachers have received 8 or more hours of recenttraining to teach students of limited English proficiency(National Center for Education Statistics, 2002). Unfortu-nately, little is known about how an underprepared teach-ing force is coping with its increasingly linguisticallydiverse classrooms. </p><p>Some preliminary research into teachers views of lin-guistically diverse schools is available. Although subject-area2 teachers of ELLs have rarely been the primary focus ofresearch attention, their attitudes toward ELL inclusionhave been alluded to in a number of studies (Fu, 1995;Harklau, 2000; Olsen, 1997; Schmidt, 2000; Valdes, 1998,2001; Verplaetse, 1998; Vollmer, 2000) in linguisticallydiverse classrooms. The portraits of teachers in those stud-ies, although incomplete, grant at least limited insight intoteacher experiences with ELLs. Commonalities and recur-ring themes exist in the preliminary studies, includingteachers (a) attitudes toward ELL inclusion in mainstreamclasses, (b) views on modification of coursework, and (c)feelings of (un)preparedness to work with ELLs. </p><p>Attitudes Toward Inclusion</p><p>Several qualitative studies exploring the schooling expe-riences of ELLs have alluded to mainstream teacher atti-tudes toward ELL inclusion. Teachers in those studies wereportrayed as holding negative, unwelcoming attitudes (Fu,1995; Olsen, 1997; Schmidt, 2000; Valdes, 1998, 2001), aswell as positive, welcoming attitudes (Harklau, 2000;Reeves, 2004; Verplaetse, 1998). In general, teachers inthose studies held ambivalent or unwelcoming attitudes,</p><p>Address correspondence to Jenelle R. Reeves, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 118 Henzlik Hall, TLTE, Lincoln, NE 68588. ( </p><p>Copyright 2006 Heldref Publications</p><p>131</p><p>Secondary Teacher Attitudes TowardIncluding English-Language Learners</p><p>in Mainstream Classrooms</p><p>JENELLE R. REEVESUniversity of Nebraska-Lincoln</p><p>ABSTRACT Researchers have given limited attention toteacher attitudes toward inclusion of English-language learn-ers (ELLs) in mainstream classrooms. The author explored 4categories within secondary teacher attitudes toward ELLinclusion: (a) ELL inclusion, (b) coursework modification forELLS, (c) professional development for working with ELLs,and (d) perceptions of language and language learning. Find-ings from a survey of 279 subject-area high school teachersindicate a neutral to slightly positive attitude toward ELLinclusion, a somewhat positive attitude toward courseworkmodification, a neutral attitude toward professional develop-ment for working with ELLs, and educator misconceptionsregarding how second languages are learned.</p><p>Key words: English-language learners, mainstream classrooms,secondary teacher attitudes</p><p>P</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Upp</p><p>sala</p><p> uni</p><p>vers</p><p>itets</p><p>bibl</p><p>iote</p><p>k] a</p><p>t 19:</p><p>58 1</p><p>8 N</p><p>ovem</p><p>ber </p><p>2014</p></li><li><p>although there were notable exceptions (Harklau; Ver-plaetse). In determining the welcoming or unwelcomingnature of teacher attitudes, researchers suggested a host offactors that could be influential. The factors fall into threecategories: (a) teacher perceptions of the impact of ELLinclusion on themselves, (b) impact of inclusion on thelearning environment, and (c) teacher attitudes and per-ceptions of ELLs.</p><p>Research suggests that teachers may be concerned about(a) chronic lack of time to address ELLs unique classroomneeds (Youngs, 1999), (b) perceived intensification ofteacher workloads when ELLs are enrolled in mainstreamclasses (Gitlin, Buenda, Crosland, &amp; Doumbia, 2003), and(c) feelings of professional inadequacy to work with ELLs(Verplaetse, 1998). In terms of the impact of inclusion onthe classroom learning environment, teachers are con-cerned about the possibility that ELLs will slow the classprogression through the curriculum (Youngs) or result ininequities in educational opportunities for all students(Platt, Harper, &amp; Mendoza, 2003; Reeves, 2004; Schmidt,2000). Finally, some evidence of subject-area teacher atti-tudes and perceptions of ELLs is present in research,including a reluctance to work with low-proficiency ELLs(Platt et al.), misconceptions about the processes of sec-ond-language acquisition (Olsen, 1997; Reeves, 2004;Walqui, 2000), and assumptions (positive and negative)about the race and ethnicity of ELLs (Harklau, 2000;Valdes, 2001; Vollmer, 2000). </p><p>All of the studies listed in the preceding paragraph werequalitative and had a small number of teacher participants;few held mainstream teachers as the primary focus of study.In their quantitative study of 143 middle school teachers,however, Youngs and Youngs (2001) focused exclusively onmainstream teacher attitudes. In a survey of participants,the researchers found that teacher attitudes were neutral toslightly positive in response to the following two questions:(a) If you were told that you could expect two or threeESL students in one of your classes next year, how wouldyou describe your reaction? and (b) How would youdescribe your overall reaction to working with ESL stu-dents in your classroom? (p. 108). Youngs and Youngs alsocorrelated five factors to teachers positive attitudes: (a)coursework in foreign language/multiculturalism, (b) ESLtraining, (c) personal experience with foreign cultures, (d)contact with a diversity of ESL students, and (e) femalegender. Beyond the research of Youngs and Youngs, quanti-tative measures of teacher attitudes are scarce. </p><p>Attitudes Toward Modifications </p><p>Inclusion as a model for addressing the needs of ELLs hasgained popularity as the nations emphasis on standards andaccountability has increased. In an inclusion model, ELLsmight receive ESL courses, but the students are main-streamed for most, if not all, of the school day. ELLs placedexclusively in courses designed for LEP students (i.e., ESL</p><p>and sheltered instruction courses) might not have access tothe curriculum necessary for educational success. A docu-mented history of exclusionary schooling in which ELLswere placed in peripheral programs and had limited accessto rigorous content added leverage to the push for inclusiveeducation (Nieto, 2002; Olsen, 1997; Valdes, 2001). If theinclusion model is to be effective in granting ELLs equi-table access to the curriculum, however, instruction mustbe altered for a multilingual audience. Techniques consid-ered effective for English-proficient students might notrender content comprehensible for students learning Eng-lish (Echevarria, Vogt, &amp; Short, 2000). For example, class-rooms that follow a traditional knowledge-transmissionmodel of instruction represent an exclusionary learning cli-mate for ELLs, particularly for those with low levels of Eng-lish proficiency. The inadequacies of unmodified instruc-tion or instruction designed solely for an English-proficientaudience have been noted by several researchers (Echevar-ria et al.; Gibbons, 2002). To allow ELLs access to the cur-riculum, educators must adapt traditional approaches toinstruction or, at a minimum, supplement their methods. </p><p>Advice for teachers regarding how they can adjust con-tent and instruction is increasingly accessible for those whopursue it. There has been a marked surge in the number ofbooks, journal articles, and professional development ini-tiatives that offer teaching strategies to ELL educators. Yet,teacher views on the scope and types of modifications thatthey are willing to make have remained largely unexam-ined. Some teacher struggles to identify and implementappropriate, effective instruction for mainstreamed ELLsare apparent in recent research. For example, Gina, a highschool teacher (see Reeves, 2002) was conflicted aboutmaking coursework modifications for an ELL in her 10th-grade U.S. history class. They [ELLs] have to know theinformation for the end of course test. And you cant real-ly abbreviate the amount of factual [information] (p. 90).As Ginas comment suggests, concerns about educationalequity regarding coursework modifications also might be afactor in teachers views on effective and appropriate mod-ifications for ELLs (Reeves, 2004; Youngs, 1999). </p><p>Attitudes Toward Professional Development</p><p>Given the increase in the ELL population and the lackof training that teachers have received for working withELLs, professional development in this area also hasbecome a high priority for many school districts. Littleresearch, however, has explored teacher attitudes towardthat type of professional development. Clair (1995) pro-vided a rare glimpse into three teachers views. When giventhe opportunity to attend in-service workshops on methodsof working with ELLs, all three of Clairs participants(Grades 4, 5, and 10 teachers) declined. One of Clairs par-ticipants believed that the workshops presented methodsand materials that were inappropriate for her classroom,such as a workshop that encouraged the use of puppetry.</p><p>132 The Journal of Educational Research</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Upp</p><p>sala</p><p> uni</p><p>vers</p><p>itets</p><p>bibl</p><p>iote</p><p>k] a</p><p>t 19:</p><p>58 1</p><p>8 N</p><p>ovem</p><p>ber </p><p>2014</p></li><li><p>The two remaining teachers, although interested in receiv-ing materials that they could use with ELLs, believed thatas experienced teachers of English-proficient students, theywere already well prepared to work with ELLs. One teacherexplained that, As far as teaching goes, teaching is thesame no matter what kind of kids you have (p. 191).Clairs study, which provided data from only a small groupof teachers, suggests the need for larger scale studies of edu-cators attitudes toward ESL professional development. </p><p>Research Questions</p><p>I used data from a large study (Reeves, 2002) of sec-ondary teachers experiences with ELL inclusion to exam-ine secondary teachers attitudes and perceptions of includ-ing ELLs in mainstream classes. The original studyconsisted of two parts: (a) a large-scale, 38-item survey of279 teachers attitudes and perceptions and (b) four casestudies of secondary subject-area teachers. I reported 16items from the survey, each representing four salientthemes in teacher attitudes and perceptions of the inclu-sion of ELLs. The following four research questions guidedthis study: </p><p>1. What are teacher attitudes toward ELL inclusion inmainstream classes?</p><p>2. What are teacher attitudes toward the modification ofcoursework for ELLs?</p><p>3. What are teacher attitudes toward ESL professionaldevelopment?</p><p>4. What are teacher perceptions of second-language acqui-sition processes?</p><p>Instrumentation</p><p>I used a survey to gauge teacher attitudes and perceptionsof ELL inclusion. Attitudes and perceptions . . . form awhole constellation of working rules about the world andreactions to it (Sapsford, 1999, p. 141); therefore, the studyof attitudes through survey research may most effectively beapproached through indirect questioning of respondentsopinions, attitudes, perceptions, and beliefs. A straightfor-ward question can all too easily evoke a rhetorical or ideo-logical response, and this is often not what the researchrequires (p. 106). In consideration of the complexities o...</p></li></ul>