Student perspectives on ‘Race’, diversity and inclusion on ITE courses: a case study analysis

Bhopal, Kalwant, Harris, Richard and Rhamie, Jasmine (2009) Student perspectives on ‘Race’, diversity and inclusion on ITE courses: a case study analysis At BERA Annual Conference. 02 - 05 Sep 2009.


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This paper will examine students’ perspectives on teaching issues of ‘race’, diversity and inclusion on initial teacher education courses at one university. It will analyse student perspectives from questionnaires distributed to a total of 100 students on PGCE secondary, primary and BA QTS courses. The data was analysed to examine how students felt about the teaching of these specific issues on their courses.

A review of literature

Studies (e.g. Ambe, 2006, Santoro and Allard, 2005) have highlighted concerns about the ability and willingness of trainee teachers to understand issues associated with ‘race’, diversity and inclusion. These studies, drawn from North America, Europe and Australasia make similar points about a growing mismatch between a teaching population that is increasingly white, female and middle class and a school population that is increasingly ethnically diverse. At the same time there are concerns about the underachievement of young people from such backgrounds. Nieto (2004) highlights the persistent, pervasive and disproportionate number of African-Americans who perform poorly in schools, whilst Gillborn and Mirza (2000) highlight similar trends in the UK. The reasons for this are complex, but many relate to teachers, how they conceptualise the curriculum and its content (e.g. Grosvenor and Myers, 2001, Husbands, Pendry and Kitson, 2003) and how they understand the constraints and obstacles those pupils from diverse backgrounds face (e.g. Ladson-Billings, 2004, Nieto, 2004). Other studies, such as Bhatti’s (2004) highlights the unintentional racism that some teachers exhibit.

There have been attempts to address these concerns by a focus on teacher training courses, and developing programmes to help beginning teachers understand issues relating to ‘race’, diversity and inclusion (see for example, Causey, Thomas, Armento, 2000). Yet as Sleeter (20001 and Hollins and Guzman (2005) show, in most cases the impact of specific interventions is limited: although some studies suggest a positive impact of teacher preparation approaches, the findings about preparing teachers for diversity are generally inconsistent and inconclusive. (Hollins and Guzman, 2005: 479)

One response has been to focus on understanding the ideas and attitudes of trainee teachers towards diversity as a means of identifying mis/preconceptions and prejudices (e.g. Garcia and Lopez, 2005). As Korthagen et al (2001) argues, it is only possible to work with trainees’ ideas and realistically move them forward, once they are known.

Study aims and objectives

The main aim of the study was to examine student and tutor understandings of the teaching of ‘race’, diversity and inclusion on ITE courses (PGCE primary/secondary and BA (QTS). This paper will specifically focus on student perspectives. The study objectives included:

1. What are the views of students and tutors on ITE courses regarding the teaching of ‘race’, diversity and inclusion?

2. How can the views of students and tutors be used to develop materials on such courses (e.g. workshop sessions, reading materials)?

Study findings

The findings of the study will be used to inform teaching on ITE courses. The study will be presented as a case study analysis of the teaching of ‘race’, diversity and inclusion. This will include an analysis of the questionnaire data and the development of workshops to be used with on ITE courses. This will consist of 2 workshops (one for staff and one for students). The workshops will address ways of challenging stereotypes and confronting ‘difference’. The research is funded by Multiverse and we will provide a reading list of materials and PowerPoint slides to be used as part of the workshops which will be displayed on the Multiverse website.

Themes to be explored

We are currently in the process of conducting the research. However themes to be explored and analysed include:
Trainees direct experience and knowledge of race, diversity and inclusion.
The degree to which trainees view these matters as being important and relevant on a teacher training course.
The levels of trainee confidence in addressing issues related to these topics
Trainees own understanding and definitions of race, diversity and inclusion and associated terminology.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Venue - Dates: BERA Annual Conference, 2009-09-02 - 2009-09-05
Related URLs:
Keywords: race, diversity, inclusion, initial teacher education, students
ePrint ID: 68624
Date :
Date Event
September 2009Published
Date Deposited: 09 Sep 2009
Last Modified: 18 Apr 2017 21:24
Further Information:Google Scholar

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