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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Teachers’ perspectives on culturally diverse classrooms and responsive science and mathematics teaching Raisinghani, Latika


This study focused on investigating Kindergarten to Grade12 (K-12) teachers’ perspectives about the effects of students’ cultural diversity on their science and mathematics teaching and their perspectives and understandings of culturally responsive teaching. Largely informed by the principles of qualitative case study approach, this investigation employed phenomenographic methods including individual teacher interviews and informal observations of select science and mathematics classrooms for data collection and analysis. Participants included ten teachers from Vancouver, a major urban city in Western Canada. A synthesized theoretical framework of (trans-multi)culturally responsive education comprising of critical and transformational multicultural education perspectives and complementing notions of culturally responsive teaching served as a guiding lens to analyze and interpret the data. Two research questions were addressed: 1) What are K-12 teachers’ perspectives about the effect of cultural diversity on their science and mathematics teaching? 2) What are the teachers’ understandings of and perspectives on culturally responsive teaching as a viable strategy for teaching science and mathematics in their cultural diversity-rich classrooms? Key findings illustrate that: 1) teachers described students’ cultural diversity as a mosaic as well as a strength and a challenge; 2) teachers recognized the level of English language competency as one of the key systemic factors compounding the challenges associated with students’ cultural diversity; 3) lack of culturally relevant resources, support and training serve as an impediment to teachers’ successful integration of Indigenous knowledges in their science and mathematics classrooms; 4) teachers’ perspectives of science and mathematics, cultural diversity, and Canadian culture were full of contradictions; and 5) teachers’ understandings of culturally responsive teaching and its manifestation in their classrooms were diverse and full of conundrums. The findings have implications for future research on how teachers’ perspectives of students’ cultural diversity influence their expectations of culturally diverse students’ engagement and achievements, and their assessment practices in science and mathematics classrooms. The findings also demand further research focusing on whether teaching the content of science and mathematics limits teachers’ pedagogical responsiveness where they may merely “talk the walk” of multicultural education without realizing the actual potential of students’ and communal funds of knowledges in their diversity-rich classrooms.

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