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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Teaching to diversity : creating compassionate learning communities for diverse elementary school students Katz, Jennifer


Across North America concerns have been raised about the social, emotional, and mental health of our youth. Many primary prevention programs have been proposed to address these issues, however, few have met the criteria for effective interventions, including being longitudinal, cross-curricular, emphasizing specific concepts and skills, and being within the skills and understandings of teachers and the school system at large (McCombs, 2004). The Respecting Diversity (RD) program is a social and emotional learning (SEL) intervention designed by teachers that uses a Multiple Intelligences (MI) framework to develop self-awareness, self-respect and respect for diverse others. It teaches skills such as goal setting, meta-cognition, and perspective taking that underlie SEL. The program is designed to develop, a safe, positive classroom climate to begin the school year, and facilitate social and academic learning. The study herein was intended to explore emotional and behavioral outcomes of the RD program. The study involved 218 intermediate (grades 4-7) students and their teachers, divided into intervention and control groups. Students were assessed pre and post intervention for the development of self-awareness, self-respect, awareness of others, and respect for others. Measures of classroom climate were also included. Students completed several measures of SEL, and a selected sample were interviewed to obtain detailed information about their experiences in inclusive diverse classrooms, and with the RD program itself. Data were analyzed using both qualitative and quantitative methods, including thematic content analysis procedures and repeated measures MANCOVA’s. Both students and teachers indicated that the RD program significantly increased students’ self-respect, awareness of others, and respect for others, while students in control classrooms decreased in these factors. Classroom climate also significantly improved for treatment classrooms, and, similarly, decreased in control classrooms. Results are discussed in terms of their educational implications, limitations, and suggestions for further research.

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