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An action research project to promote the teaching of culturally and ethnically diverse history on a secondary Postgraduate Certificate of Education history course

Harris, Richard John (2010) An action research project to promote the teaching of culturally and ethnically diverse history on a secondary Postgraduate Certificate of Education history course University of Southampton, School of Education, Doctoral Thesis , 459pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)


This study, an action research project to promote the teaching of culturally and ethnically diverse history with history trainee teachers on a secondary postgraduate certificate of education (PGCE) course, encompasses two complete action research cycles. The first of which was during the academic year 2007-2008 and the second in 2008-2009. It draws together research from the fields of diversity education, history education and trainee teacher development. Concerns about the ability of trainee teachers from white, monocultural backgrounds to embrace diversity in their classroom practice, not only within the United Kingdom but internationally, were identified during the reconnaissance stage of the action research cycle. Data collected from eight experienced teachers and a cohort of history trainees in 2006-2007 revealed a range of specific concerns and an action plan was created to infuse the history PGCE course to address these. Thus emphasis was placed on including culturally and ethnically diverse content to help trainee history teachers appreciate the values and purposes of the subject and the appropriateness of content to be taught. There was also an increased focus on subject knowledge development, pedagogy and awareness of the impact of the history curriculum on pupils from diverse backgrounds. Seven trainees agreed to participate and provide data during the course 2007-2008. Questionnaires and ‘scenario’ interviews were used to gather data at the start and end of the course. This enabled the development of a new framework, the ‘confidence continuum’, which revealed that most trainees moved from a position of naïve confidence to greater uncertainty between the start and end of the course.

A second action research cycle was therefore carried out with a different cohort in 2008-2009. The intention was to see how far a more explicit focus on diversity could embed this element into the practice of trainee teachers. The data, gathered at three points in the year using questionnaires and interviews from six participating trainees, revealed that a more explicit focus on diversity issues helped more trainees move to a position of greater confidence.

Overall, the findings from this study show that it is possible for trainee history teachers from a white monocultural background to embrace diversity in their work, although this varies by individual. This research identifies the concerns that trainee teachers face, but more importantly it offers a new way to conceptualise their levels of confidence, through the ‘confidence continuum’, and in so doing demonstrates the complex interplay between different areas of knowledge and confidence. Further, it provides a theoretical model to explain the tensions which need to be addressed during a PGCE course. Together the continuum and the ‘tensions’ model identify and explain why trainees adopt particular positions. The study suggests further gains could be possible if school history departments and school mentors were supported in developing their practice in relation to culturally and ethnically diverse history.

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Published date: January 2010
Organisations: University of Southampton, Southampton Education School


Local EPrints ID: 336242
PURE UUID: 3167ba76-ccb0-486c-b7d0-2a1a19ca7f10

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Date deposited: 19 Mar 2012 16:37
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 06:09

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Author: Richard John Harris
Thesis advisor: Gill Clarke

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