Multicultural Teaching Competence as Perceived by Elementary School teachers
The purpose of this study was to (a) explore elementary school teachers' perceptions of their strengths and deficiencies for working with, and meeting the need of, students from diverse cultural backgrounds; and (b) assess the relationships between these perceptions and the teachers multicultural background and demographic factors such as age, gender, and ethnicity.
The participants were elementary school teachers in the Guilford County School System, North Carolina. One school was randomly selected from the four geographical regions in the school system. Teachers who taught summer school were also selected to participate in the program. Classroom teachers from selected schools participated in the study.
This study used Jacobeth Ntsebe Thabede's dissertation, Multicultural Teaching Competence as Perceived by Business Education Student Teachers (1996) as a model to frame the research. Thabede used Wayson's (1993) The Multicultural Teaching Scale classified into Banks' (1993) Dimensions of Multicultural Education to determine the level of multicultural teaching skills of business education student teachers. This study determined the level of multicultural teaching skills of elementary school teachers.
The outcome of the regression formula indicated 38 percent of the variance of Building Respect was explained. Building respect for diversity represents the teachers' reported willingness to model respect building practices. The four important independent variables were age, the number of hours of multicultural instruction, whether they taught in a suburban school, and whether the participants had experiences with diversity during their education. The more multicultural background during teacher education, the older the participant, the more hours of multicultural instruction, and if teachers were working in a suburban teaching environment, the more likely teachers were to report behaviors that reflect building respect for multicultural diversity.
The findings of the focus groups and the survey showed teachers, who had multi-ethnic family origin, early education experience with cultural diverse students and multicultural friendship groups, perceived themselves competent to teach multicultural students.