Influence of Pre-service Teachers' Beliefs about Diversity on Science Teaching and Learning

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Virginia Tech

The influences of the background experiences of five pre-service Science teachers on their beliefs about diversity were the focus for this study. These individuals were followed throughout their teacher preparation program. The data for this study consisted of interviews, conducted before and after entering the field. Data also consisted of any relevant written assignments. The data for this study were analyzed according to emerging themes, depicting initial beliefs and any changes in the beliefs occurring over time. The results of this study were organized into vignettes, telling each story from before and after the students entered the program. Three themes emerged from an analysis and interpretation of the vignettes: (1) Early life experiences shaped the pre-service teachers' sense of identity and influenced their beliefs on diversity, (2) Experiences with diversity influenced pre-service teachers' philosophy of teaching, and (3) Experiences with diversity during the teacher preparation program challenged or confirmed pre-service teachers' preexisting beliefs. The implications from this study suggest that pre-service teachers need challenging experiences in diverse classroom settings that will promote an expansion of their beliefs, enabling them to cross cultural borders.

teacher beliefs, border crossings, multicultural education, diversity, pre-service teachers