Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Childhood Education and Literacy Studies

Major Professor

Janet C. Richards, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Mary Lou Morton, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Deirdre Cobb-Roberts, Ph.D.

Committee Member

H. Roy Kaplan, Ph.D.


teacher education, multicultural education, literacy, field experience, student teacher interaction


I investigated eight preservice teachers’ understandings about culturally responsive pedagogy as they participated in a writing methods course in which they tutored children from different ethnic, socioeconomic, cultural, and linguistic backgrounds in an afterschool program at a local community center. I also investigated how these preservice teachers demonstrated culturally responsive teaching within the writing curriculum. I recognized the need for research relevant to my own personal beliefs and how to strive for more equitable schools. I want to contribute further to the understandings and insights related to culturally responsive pedagogy. According to the literature, it appears teachers remain unprepared to teach children from diverse populations many of whom continue to fall behind academically. Insufficient information exists in the literature regarding attitudes and understandings of preservice teachers about culturally responsive pedagogy. I utilized a qualitative design, in particular an embedded case study to gain an understanding of a smaller part of the larger case. The larger case was the entire community center, preservice teachers, course instructor, and the elementary students. Data included individual and focus group interviews, course documents, reflections, field notes, and a reflexive journal. I chose constant comparison analysis to find themes within all of the data. I then used within-case analysis to more deeply examine the themes found in the data. In order to gain understanding of these discoveries being relevant to other cases, I employed a cross-case analysis. After multiple readings of the data, carefully analyzing the data through coding and categorizing themes, the following five themes emerged: 1) cultural awareness and integration, 2) student-teacher interaction, 3) influence of the field experience, 4) questions and conversations, and 5) best practices for teaching writing. I also recommend effective aspects of the field experience, which facilitated preservice teachers’ development of deeper understandings about culturally responsive pedagogy as they confronted their conscious and unconscious beliefs. The effective facets in the field experience included one-on-one student teacher interaction, scaffolding critical reflection, and use of best practices in culturally responsive writing instruction.