Chapter 3 Learner Diversity: Differences in Today’s Students Chapter 4 Changes in American Society: Their Influences on Today’s Schools
Introduction to Teaching: Becoming a Professional, Second Edition, by Donald Kauchak and Paul Eggen Published by Prentice-Hall/Merrill. Copyright © 2005 by Pearson Education, Inc.
Introduction to Teaching: Becoming a Professional, Second Edition, by Donald Kauchak and Paul Eggen Published by Prentice-Hall/Merrill. Copyright © 2005 by Pearson Education, Inc.
Differences in Today’s Students
eachers begin their careers expecting to find classrooms like the ones they experienced when they were students.
In some ways classrooms are the same. Students go to school to learn, but they also want to have fun and be with their friends. They expect to work but often need encouragement from their teachers. They’re typical kids. Classrooms are changing, however; the population of our schools is becoming increasingly diverse. Students come from different cultures and speak many different languages at home; they possess a range of abilities and talents; and issues involving differences between boys and girls are receiving increased attention.
In this chapter we examine this diversity as we try to answer the following questions: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ What is cultural diversity, and how does it influence student learning? How are the educational experiences of boys and girls different? How do schools accommodate ability differences in learners? What are learning styles, and how should teachers respond to them? Who are learners with exceptionalities, and how can schools best meet their needs? Let’s see how learner diversity influences the lives of teachers.
Shannon Wilson, a fifth-grade teacher in a large urban elementary school, walked around her classroom, helping student groups as they worked on their social studies projects.A number of hands were raised, and she felt relieved that she had Maria Arguelas, her special education resource teacher, to help her. Shannon had 27 students in her class, seven of whom did not speak English as their first language. Five of the seven were Hispanic, and fortunately Maria was able to assist them in their native language. Shannon often spent extra time with Kwan and Abdul, the other two non-English speakers. Maria also assisted Shannon by working with four of her students who had learning disabilities. Shannon’s class was preparing for Parents’ Day, an afternoon in which parents and other caregivers would join the class in celebrating the students’ ancestral countries. The students would present information about the countries’ history, geography, and cultures in their projects.The class had already prepared a large world map with pins marking the students’ countries of origin.While several of the pins were clustered in Mexico and Central and South America, the map showed that students also came from many other parts of the world. Each student was encouraged to invite a family member to come and share a part of the family’s native culture. The parents could bring food, music, and native dress from their different homelands.
This logo appears throughout the chapter to indicate where case studies are integrated with chapter content.
• ● •
Introduction to Teaching: Becoming a Professional, Second Edition, by Donald Kauchak and Paul Eggen Published by Prentice-Hall/Merrill. Copyright © 2005 by Pearson Education, Inc.
Dimensions of Diversity
Your first classroom is likely to be comprised of students from a variety of backgrounds, primarily because student diversity in today’s schools is rapidly increasing (Hodgkinson, 2001) but also because new teachers are more likely to find jobs in schools that serve diverse populations (Olson, 2003a). This diversity has several sources (Figure 3.1), and it presents both challenges and opportunities. To meet these challenges, teachers need to develop a deep understanding of diversity and adopt teaching strategies that address the learning needs of students from varying backgrounds. In some instances they will require professional knowledge in specialized areas such as English language learning or special education. Acquiring such professional knowledge, however, gives teachers additional tools for increasing learning for all students, and it presents enormous opportunities for professional growth. This chapter is designed to help you start the journey toward meeting the challenges and capitalizing on the opportunities of the diverse classroom.
What kinds of clothes do you wear? What types of music do you like? What foods do you eat? Your clothing, music, and foods, along with other factors such as religion, family structure, and values, are all part of your culture. Culture refers to the attitudes, values, customs, and behavior patterns that characterize a social group (Banks, 2001). The enormous impact of culture is illustrated by its influence on all aspects of our lives (Gollnick & Chinn, 2002). An activity as basic as eating is one example: • ● •
Culture not only helps to determine what foods we eat, but it also influences when we eat (for example, one, three, or five meals and at what time of the day); with whom we eat (that is, only with the same sex, with children or with the extended family); how we eat (for example, at a table or on the floor; with chopsticks, silverware, or the fingers); and the ritual of eating (for example, in which hand the fork is held, asking for or being offered seconds, and belching to show appreciation of a good meal). These
eating patterns are habits of the culture. (Gollnick & Chinn, 1986, pp. 6–7) • ● •
Culture influences people’s responses to other basic needs, such as the need for shelter and clothing, and it influences school success through the attitudes, values, and ways of viewing the world embedded in it.
Changes in School-Age Population, 2000–2020
Percentage of children ages 5-17
70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0
64.8 59.5 55.6
15.3 14.8 4.1 1
20 14.1 5.4 .9
22.9 14.2 6.3 1
2000 White, non-Hispanic Asian and Pacific Islander, non-Hispanic
2020 Black, non-Hispanic
American Indian, Eskimo, and Aleut, non-Hispanic
Source: U.S. Bureau of Census (1998b).
Increasing Understanding 3.1
What ethnic group or groups do you belong to? How is your heritage evidenced in the foods you eat, the holidays you celebrate, and the language spoken in your community? To answer the Increasing Understanding questions online and receive immediate feedback, go to the Companion Website at www. prenhall.com/kauchak, then to this chapter’s Increasing Understanding module. Type in your response, and then study the feedback.
An important part of culture is a person’s ethnic background. Ethnicity refers to a person’s ancestry; the way individuals identify themselves with the nation from which they or their ancestors came (deMarrais & LeCompte, 1999; Gollnick & Chinn, 2002). Members of an ethnic group have a common identity defined by their history, language (although sometimes not spoken), customs, and traditions. More than 14 million people immigrated to the United States during the 1970s and 1980s. Between 1980 and 1994, America’s classrooms underwent the following changes:
• • • •
An increase in Asian American students of almost 100 percent An increase in Hispanic students of 46 percent An increase in African American students of 25 percent An increase in Caucasian students of 10 percent (Kent, Pollard, Haaga, & Mather, 2001; U.S. Bureau of Census, 1996)
By the year 2020, the U.S. school-age population will see many more changes (Figure 3.2). Experts predict considerable increases in the percentages of Hispanic students and Asian/Pacific Island students, while the percentage of
African American students will remain essentially the same. During this time the proportion of White students will decrease from 64.8 percent to 55.6 percent of the total population (U.S. Bureau of Census, 1998b; U.S. Department of Education, 2000c). By 2020, almost half of the U.S. school population will consist of members of non-Caucasian cultural groups. Each of these groups brings a distinct set of values and traditions that influences student learning.
Cultural Attitudes and Values
Increasing Understanding 3.2
How do the foods Americans eat reflect this growing cultural diversity?
Students come to school with a long learning history. Cultural patterns exist in their dress, family roles, interactions with parents and peers, and attitudes and values. When they enter our classrooms, they bring these attitudes and values with them. Some complement learning; others conflict with it. Language is an example. Students are sometimes hesitant to drop the use of nonstandard English dialects in favor of “school English” because doing so might
Chapter 3 Learner Diversity
The increasing cultural diversity of our students provides teachers with both opportunities and challenges.
alienate their peers (Ogbu, 1999). The same problem occurs in second-language learning. Research indicates that programs encouraging students to drop
their native language in favor of English can cause students to distance themselves from their parents, many of whom cannot speak English (Wong-Fillmore, 1992). Even school success can be an issue. To succeed in school is interpreted by some as rejecting a native culture; to become a good student is to become “White”—to uphold only White cultural values. Students who study and become actively involved in school risk losing the friendship and respect of their peers. John Ogbu, an anthropologist who studies the achievement of minority students, believes that in many schools peer values either don’t support school learning or actually oppose it; students form what he calls “resistance cultures” (Ogbu & Simons, 1998). Low grades, management and motivation problems, truancy, and high dropout rates are symptoms of this conflict.
Cultural attitudes and values can also complement school learning. In a crosscultural study comparing Chinese, Japanese, and American child-rearing practices, researchers found significant differences in parental support for schooling (Stevenson, Lee, & Stigler, 1986). More than 95 percent of native Chinese and Japanese fifth graders had desks at home on which to do their homework; only 63 percent of the American sample did. Also, 57 percent of the Chinese and Japanese parents supplemented their fifth graders’ schoolwork with additional math workbooks, as compared with only 28 percent of the U.S. parents. Finally, 51 percent of the Chinese parents and 29 percent of the Japanese parents supplemented their children’s science curriculum with additional work, compared with only 1 percent of American parents. A study attempting to understand the phenomenal successes of Indo-Chinese children in U.S. classrooms further documents the effects of home values on learning (Caplan, Choy, & Whitmore, 1992). In examining the school experiences of Vietnamese and Laotian refugees who had been in the United States for a relatively short time (an average of 31⁄2 years), the researchers found amazing progress. The IndoChinese children received better than a B average in school, and their scores on stan-
dardized achievement tests corroborated the grades as reflecting true achievement, not grade inflation. In attempting to explain this encouraging pattern, the researchers (Caplan et al., 1992) looked to the attitudes and values in the families. They found heavy emphasis on the importance of education, hard work, autonomy, perseverance, and pride. These values were reinforced with a nightly ritual of family homework in which both parents and older siblings helped younger members of the family. Indo-Chinese high schoolers spent an average of 3 hours a day on homework, and junior high and elementary students spent an average of 21⁄2 hours and 2 hours, respectively. In comparison, non-IndoChinese junior and senior high students spent 11⁄2 hours a day on homework.
Cultural Interaction Patterns
Cultural conflict can occur in the interaction patterns typically found in most classrooms. Let’s look at an example: A second-grade class in Albuquerque, New Mexico, was reading The Boxcar Children and was about to start a new chapter. The teacher said,“Look at the illustration at the beginning of the chapter and tell me what you think is going to happen.”A few students raised their hands. The teacher called on a boy in the back row. He said,“I think the boy is going to meet his grandfather.” The teacher asked, “Based on what you know, how does the boy feel about meeting his grandfather?” Trying to involve the whole class, the teacher called on another student—one of four Native Americans in the group—even though she had not raised her hand. When she didn’t answer, the teacher tried rephrasing the question, but again the student sat in silence. Feeling exasperated, the teacher wondered if there was something in the way the lesson was being conducted that made it difficult for the student to respond. She sensed that the student she had called on understood the story and was enjoying it. Why, then, wouldn’t she answer what appeared to be a simple question? The teacher recalled that this was not the first time this had happened, and that, in fact, the other Native American students in the class rarely answered questions in class discussions. She wanted to involve them, wanted them to participate in class, but could not think of ways to get them to talk. (Villegas, 1991, p. 3)
• ● •
Why did this happen? One explanation suggests that Native American children are not used to the fast-paced, give-and-take patterns that characterize many American classrooms. When involved in a discussion like the one just described, they are uncomfortable and, as a result, reluctant to participate. Studies have found interaction differences between White and African American students as well (Heath, 1989, 1982). For instance, Heath (1982) looked at students’ responses to teacher directives such as “Let’s put the scissors away now.” Accustomed to this indirect way of speaking, White students interpreted the directive as a command; African Americans, used to more direct commands like “Put your scissors away, now,” did not. Teachers viewed a student’s failure to comply as either a management or a motivation problem, when instead the problem arose from the mismatch between home and school cultures. Heath (1982) found other cultural differences that also caused problems during instruction. White children, accustomed to being asked direct questions in the home,
Chapter 3 Learner Diversity
knew how to answer questions requiring specific answers, such as “Where did the puppy go?” and “What’s this story about?” African American children, by contrast, were accustomed to questions that were more “open-ended, story-starter” types that didn’t have single answers. In addition, in their homes, African American children “were not viewed as information-givers in their interactions with adults, nor were they considered appropriate conversation partners and thus they did not learn to act as such” (Heath, 1982, p. 119). When teachers learned to use more open-ended questions in their instruction, participation of African American students increased. In addition, over time African American students began to understand that answering teacher questions was part of the educational game, designed to increase their involvement and learning.
Educational Responses to Cultural Diversity
Historically, social commentators have used different metaphors to describe the relationship between diverse cultures in the United States. The “melting pot” was one of the first. Those who saw the United States as a melting pot emphasized assimilation, a process of socializing people so that they adopt dominant social norms and patterns of behavior. Assimilation attempted to make members of minority cultural groups “similar” to those belonging to the dominant cultural group—typically Whites of European descent. The melting pot metaphor was especially popular in the early 1900s, when large numbers of immigrants from southern and eastern Europe entered the United States. Society assigned schools the task of teaching these immigrants how “Americans” were supposed to think, talk, and behave. Immigrants, eager to become “American” and share in this country’s economic wealth, generally accepted efforts to assimilate them. About the middle of the twentieth century, a shift in thinking occurred. People realized that assimilation had never totally worked and that there was no “melting pot,” as indicated by neighborhoods and groups that continued to speak their home languages, celebrate their unique cultural festivals, and maintain their cultural habits (such as eating certain foods).
The contributions of different cultural and ethnic groups were increasingly recognized, and leaders began to realize that some educational practices aimed at assimilation were actually counterproductive. For example, in an effort to encourage English acquisition, schools in the Southwest frequently didn’t allow students to speak Spanish, even on playgrounds. Schools became hostile places where students had to choose between family and friends, and school. The policy probably did as much to alienate Hispanic youth as it did to encourage English language development. To remedy these problems, educators began developing new approaches to addressing cultural diversity. Multicultural education is a catch-all term for a variety of strategies schools use to accommodate cultural differences and provide educational opportunities for all students. Instead of trying to create a melting pot, these approaches align with new metaphors that describe America as a “mosaic” or “tossed salad” in which each culture’s unique contributions are recognized and valued. Multicultural education seeks to recognize and celebrate cultural differences and contributions to our American way of life. Controversies over Multiculturalism Multicultural education has become highly controversial. Critics contend that it is divisive because it places too much emphasis on differences between cultural groups and not enough on our common characteristics (Schlesinger, 1992). Textbooks have been scrutinized; in 2000, a spokesperson for ISBN: 0-536-29980-3
Culturally responsive teaching builds on students’ cultural backgrounds, accepting and valuing differences and accommodating different cultural learning styles.
Increasing Understanding 3.3
Use American’s eating habits to explain why the “mosaic” and “tossed salad” metaphors are more accurate than the “melting pot” metaphor.
the American Textbook Council criticized modern history textbooks as emphasizing multicultural themes at the expense of basic information about history (Sewall, 2000). Conservative columnists in the popular press, such as U.S. News and World Report, consistently criticize multiculturalism and concepts associated with it, such as identity politics and political correctness. Proponents of multicultural education assert that building upon students’ cultures is nothing more than sound teaching; by recognizing, valuing, and utilizing students’ cultures and languages in their instruction, teachers help students link the topics they’re studying to what they already know, a process consistent with effective teaching and learning (Eggen & Kauchak, 2004; Ormrod, 2003). In addition, proponents of multicultural education point out that the United States has always been a nation of immigrants and that this diversity has long been recognized in a number of ways. For example, American society embraces the music, holidays (St. Patrick’s Day, Mardi Gras, Chinese New Year), and foods of many cultures. Good multicultural education continues this tradition by recognizing and building on students’ diverse cultural heritages. Like all educational approaches, multiculturalism will undoubtedly evolve as educators decide what works and what doesn’t in the classroom. One promising approach to working with diverse student populations is called culturally responsive teaching. Culturally Responsive Teaching Culturally responsive teaching is instruction that acknowledges and accommodates cultural diversity in classrooms (Gay, 1997). It attempts to accomplish this goal in at least three ways:
• Accepting and valuing differences • Accommodating different cultural interaction patterns • Building on students’ cultural backgrounds ISBN: 0-536-29980-3
Chapter 3 Learner Diversity
Kauchak and Paul Eggen Published by Prentice-Hall/Merrill. Copyright © 2005 by Pearson Education, Inc.
Accepting and valuing differences. By recognizing and accepting student diversity, teachers communicate that all students are welcome and valued. This is particularly important for cultural minorities, who sometimes feel alienated from school. As a simple example, Shannon, in our opening case study, attempted to meet this goal by having her students identify their ethnic homelands on the map. This showed an interest in each student as an individual and helped students see similarities and differences in other students’ backgrounds. Genuine caring is an essential element in this process. Teachers can communicate caring in several ways, including the following:
• By devoting time to students—for example, being available before and after • • school to help with schoolwork and discuss students’ personal concerns By demonstrating interest in students’ lives—for example, asking about Jewish holidays, Muslim holy days, and festivals like Kwanzaa By involving all students in learning activities—for example, calling on all students as equally as possible
Each of these suggestions communicates that all students are welcome and valued. Accommodating cultural interaction patterns. Teachers who are sensitive to possible differences between home and school interaction patterns can adapt their instruction to best meet their students’ needs. For example, we saw earlier that the communication patterns of Native Americans may clash with typical classroom practices. Recognizing that these students may not be comfortable in teacher-centered question-and-answer activities, teachers can use additional strategies, such as cooperative learning, to complement teacher-centered approaches. Similarly, knowing that White and African American students sometimes have different communication patterns, teachers can incorporate more open-ended questions in their lessons and can word instructions more directly (“Put your scissors away, now”). As another example, when a teacher learned that her Asian American students were overwhelmed by the bustle of American schools, she tried to keep her
classroom quiet and orderly and encouraged shy and reluctant students to participate with openended questioning, extra time to respond, and gentle reminders to speak a bit louder (C. Park, 1997). Another teacher reported the following: • ● •
I traditionally end every day with the students lining up and receiving a hug before they leave. My Vietnamese kids were always the stiff huggers until October. Through my understanding of their cultures, I now give all students the choice of a hug, handshake, or high five. This simple act may make children feel more comfortable interacting with me. (McAllister & Irvine, 2002, p. 440) • ● •
Through increased sensitivity to each cultural group’s learning needs, teachers can make their classrooms safe and inviting learning environments for all students. Accommodating different cultural interaction patterns can result in “accommodation without assimilation,” the process through which minority students adapt to the dominant culture (including that of schools) without losing their cultural identities (Ogbu, 1987). Other terms for this process include “alternation”—the ability to comfortably function in both cultures (Hamm & Coleman, 1997) and “code switching”—talking differently in different contexts (DeMeulenaere, 2001). The challenge for teachers is to help students learn about the “culture of schooling”—the
norms, procedures, and expectations necessary for success in school—while honoring the value and integrity of students’ home cultures. Increasing
To which metaphor—”melting pot” or “tossed salad”—does the concept of accommodation without assimilation most closely relate? Explain.
Building on students’ backgrounds. Effective teachers also learn about their students’ cultures and use this information to promote personal pride and motivation in their students, as the teacher in the following example did: • ● •
In one third-grade classroom with a predominately Central American student population, youngsters are greeted most mornings with the sound of salsa music in the background, instruction takes place in both English and Spanish, magazines and games in both languages are available throughout the classroom, maps of both the United States and Latin America line one wall, with pins noting each student’s origin, and every afternoon there is a Spanish reading lesson to ensure that students learn to read and write in Spanish as well as English. (Shields & Shaver, 1990, p. 9) • ● •
Increasing Understanding 3.5
In this chapter’s opening case study, what does Shannon do to build upon her students’ cultural backgrounds? Provide at least two specific examples.
The benefits of building on students’ cultural backgrounds are felt in both the classroom and the home. Students achieve more in the classroom, and parents become more positive about school, which in turn enhances student motivation (Shumow & Harris, 1998). Shannon recognized this when she invited parents and other caregivers to share their cultural heritages with her class. Students bring to school a wealth of experiences embedded in their home cultures. Sensitive teachers build on these experiences, and all students benefit.
Reflect on This
To analyze a case study examining issues involved in attempting to adapt instruction to cultural differences, go to the Companion Website at
www.prenhall. com/kauchak, then to this chapter’s Reflect on This module.
One of the most prominent parts of any culture is its language, and because language diversity is so important to learning, and the responses to it are so controversial, we devote a major section to it. Immigration has brought increasing numbers of students with limited backgrounds in English to U.S. classrooms. The number of English language learners (ELLs) in the United States increased by more than 50 percent between 1985 and 1991. Between 1991 and 1993, the language minority population increased 12.6 percent, compared to an increase of only 1.02 percent in the general population (Weaver & Padron, 1997). There are more than 3.2 million students in U.S. schools whose first language is not English, and in many states, these students now make up a significant proportion of the student body. For example, California’s 1.4 million ELL students comprise 35 percent of the state’s school-age population; ELL students comprise 30 percent of the population in New Mexico, 28 percent in Texas, and 23 percent in New York (U.S. Bureau of Census, 1998b). Nationwide, the number of ELL students is expected to triple during the next 30 years. The most common language groups for these students are Spanish (73%), Vietnamese (4%), Hmong (1.8%), Cantonese (1.7%), and Cambodian (1.6%).
Chapter 3 Learner Diversity
Language Diversity: The Government’s Response The federal government, through legislation and court rulings, has attempted to address the needs of English language learners. For example, in 1968 Congress passed the
Bilingual Education Act, which provided federal funds for educating non-native English speakers. In 1974 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously, in the controversial San Francisco case Lau v. Nichols, that the San Francisco School District unlawfully discriminated on the basis of students’ national origin by failing to address children’s language problems. More recently the English Acquisition part of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 mandated that the primary objective of U.S. schools should be the teaching of English without any attempt to preserve minority languages (No Child Left Behind Act of 2001). Accordingly, the previous Office of Bilingual Education became the Office of English Acquisition. Language Diversity: Schools’ Responses Schools across the country have responded to the challenge of language diversity in several ways, outlined in Table 3.1. All of the programs are designed to ultimately teach English, but they differ in how fast English is introduced and to what extent the first language is used and maintained. Maintenance language programs placed the greatest emphasis on using and sustaining the first language. For example, in one bilingual program in Houston, students ini-
Different Programs for ELL Students
Type of Program Maintenance Description First language maintained through reading and writing activities in first language while English introduced. Students learn to read in first language and are given supplementary instruction in English as a second language. Once English is mastered, students are placed in regular classrooms and first language discontinued. Students learn English by being “immersed” in classrooms where English is the only language spoken. Pull-out programs in which students are provided with supplementary English instruction or modified instruction in content areas (also called sheltered English programs). Advantages Students become literate in two languages. Maintains first language. Transition to English eased by gradual approach. Disadvantages Requires teachers trained in first language. Acquisition of English may not be as fast. Requires teachers trained in first language. Acquisition of English may not be as fast.
English as a Second Language (ESL) Programs
When effective, quick transition to English. Does not require teachers trained in second language. Easier to administer when dealing with diverse language backgrounds.
Loss of native language. “Sink or swim” approach hard on students.
Students may not be ready to benefit from content instruction in English. Pull-out programs segregate students.
Bilingual education maintains students’ first language, using it as the foundation for learning English.
Increasing Understanding 3.6
Which approach to helping English language learners is most culturally responsive? Least? Explain why in each case.
tially received 90 percent of instruction in Spanish and 10 percent in English (Zehr, 2002a). The amount of English then increased in each grade. In contrast with maintenance programs, immersion and English as a second
language (ESL) programs emphasize rapid transition to English. Transition programs maintain the first language until students acquire sufficient English. The current viability of maintenance programs is questionable, given the English Acquisition Act, which discourages such programs. Logistics are often a factor when schools consider which type of program to use. When there are large numbers of ELL students who speak the same language (such as Spanish-speaking students in Los Angeles), transition programs are feasible because one teacher who speaks the students’ native language can be hired. When several different first languages exist in the classroom, however, it isn’t feasible to find teachers who speak all of the languages. High schools, with students going from one content classroom to the next, also present logistical challenges, and ESL programs are more likely to exist at this level. Language Diversity: Implications for Teachers How will language diversity affect you as a teacher? First, bilingual education is likely to be a subject of hot debate for years.
Second, although bilingual programs have been reduced, the need for teachers with ELL expertise will only increase. Experts estimate that an additional 290,000 teachers with ELL certification will be needed to meet the demands of these students (Zhao, 2002). Teaching candidates who speak two languages, especially Spanish, are in high demand across the country. Third, you will almost certainly have non-native English speakers in your classroom, and your ability to make informed professional decisions will be essential for their learning success. In working with students from diverse backgrounds, your professionalism will be tested perhaps more than in any other area of your work. Research offers the following suggestions:
• Attempt to create a warm and inviting classroom environment by taking a personal interest in all students and involving everyone in learning activities. ISBN: 0-536-29980-3
Chapter 3 Learner Diversity
Kauchak and Paul Eggen Published by Prentice-Hall/Merrill. Copyright © 2005 by Pearson Education, Inc.
Teaching in an Era of Reform
THE BILINGUAL EDUCATION ISSUE
Bilingual education has been the focus of several reform efforts. Through the Bilingual Education Act in 1968 and guidelines drafted as a result of Lau v. Nichols in 1974, the federal government has demonstrated its commitment to providing services for nonnative English speakers. A counterreform occurred in California in 1998 when voters passed Proposition 227, a ballot initiative that sharply reduced bilingual education programs, replacing them with English-only immersion programs for ELL students. Similar measures passed in Arizona in 2000 and Massachusetts and Colorado in 2002, and other states, such as Utah, are considering similar initiatives (K. Gutiérrez et al., 2002; Schnaiberg, 1999a; Zehr, 2000a, 2000b).
These initiatives have sharply curtailed the use of bilingual education in these states. For example, before the initiatives occurred in Arizona and California, about one third of ELL students were taking bilingual education classes; after, the numbers plummeted to 11 percent in both states (Zehr, 2002b). In addition, 26 states have passed laws making English the official language (U.S. English, Inc., 2000). Although these laws are mostly symbolic because they have few concrete implications, they do illustrate public sentiment in favor of English and highlight fears about losing English as a common cultural bond. In addition, in 2002 the U.S. Congress failed to renew the Bilingual Education Act, instead packaging funds for English language learners into the No Child Left Behind Act, which requires students to attain “English fluency” in 3 years and requires schools to teach students in English after that time period. The Issue The essence of bilingual programs is an attempt to maintain students’ native languages while they learn English. Proponents make several arguments in support of bilingual education. First, they contend that the programs make sense because they provide a smooth and humane transition to English by building on students’ first languages.
They also argue that being able to speak two languages has practical benefits; a bilingual person is able to live and communicate in two worlds, which can increase economic and career opportunities. They also cite research. A study conducted in the early 1990s indicated that students in bilingual programs scored higher in math and reading and had more positive attitudes toward school and themselves (Arias & Casanova, 1993). In a more comprehensive study, researchers found significant benefits for bilingual programs on standardized tests in reading (Zehr, 2002b). Contrary to arguments that newcomers to the United States are learning English more slowly than in previous generations, the opposite appears to be true (Waggoner, 1995). Fur-
• Avoid situations that draw attention to students’ lack of English skills and cause embarrassment. One student commented:
• ● •
I think it is a bad strategy to make [ELLs] read aloud in front of other kids when they really can’t. Teachers should give them time and make them more welcome by talking to them in Spanish first and later in English. They shouldn’t expect them right away to do everything in English. (Thompson, 2000, p. 85) • ● •
• Mix teacher-centered instruction with learner-centered approaches, such as cooperative learning, where students can interact informally and practice their language skills at the same time as they study content. ISBN: 0-536-29980-3
ther research indicates that knowledge and skills acquired in a native language—literacy in particular— are “transferable” to the second language, providing students with a better understanding of the role of language in
communication and how language works (K. Gutiérrez et al. 2002; Krashen, 1996). Proponents of bilingual education also contend that immersion programs are ineffective because they place unrealistic language demands on learners. They note that conversational English, such as that spoken on the playground, is learned quite quickly, but the cognitively demanding language needed for academic success is learned much less rapidly (Peregoy & Boyle, 2001). Finally, the magnitude of the challenges involved in requiring students to attain “English fluency” in 3 years, as mandated by No Child Left Behind, is enormous. For example, in Arizona an estimated 37 percent of the state’s ELL students were enrolled in bilingual programs in 1999, and in California roughly one third of the state’s 1.4 million ELL students were enrolled in such programs (Schnaiberg, 1999a, 1999b). The Los Angeles Unified School District alone had more than 100,000 of its 310,000 ELL students enrolled in bilingual education programs. Critics of bilingual education have attacked it on several grounds. They contend that it is • Divisive, encouraging groups of non-native English speakers to remain separate from mainstream American culture • Ineffective, slowing the process of acquiring English for English language learners
Inefficient, requiring expenditures for the training of bilingual teachers and materials that could better be spent on quality monolingual programs Critics also cite their own research. For instance, one California school district reported that standardized test scores for students in the early grades—those most affected by the move from bilingual to immersion programs—improved from the 35th to the 45th percentile after students spent just one year in an immersion program, and additional research found similar positive results across California (Barone, 2000). For a report on “The Initial Impact of Proposition 227 on the Instruction of English Learners,” go to the Companion Website at www.prenhall.com/kauchak, then to this chapter’s Web Links module. You Take a Position Now it’s your turn to take a position on the issue. State in writing whether you feel that schools should make efforts to retain students’ native languages or whether it makes more sense to move students into English as quickly as possible, and provide a
twopage rationale for your position.
For additional references and resources, go to the Companion Website at www.prenhall. com/kauchak, then to this chapter’s Teaching in an Era of Reform module. You can respond online or submit your response to your instructor.
• Provide peer tutoring and “buddy” programs where students more proficient in English can help classmates who are less proficient. Peer tutoring not only increases learning but also helps ELL students feel at home in the classroom. One student recalled: • ● •
One day, while everyone else was working, my teacher called a young boy and me up to her desk. She told him something and then he glanced at me. All of a sudden, he asked me my name in Cambodian. I was so happy to know that there was someone else that spoke my language. So, I answered him back in Cambodian. Then, he told me that he was my partner in the class. In only a week, I memorized the alphabet. (Thompson, 2000, p. 84) ISBN: 0-536-29980-3
• ● •
Chapter 3 Learner Diversity
Schools can be frightening places for ELLs; having a learning partner can help in the transition to English. Use many examples and illustrations to provide concrete referents for new ideas and vocabulary. (Echevarria & Graves, 2002; Peregoy & Boyle, 2001)
These strategies represent good instructional practice for all students; for English language learners, they are essential.
What Geri Peterson saw on her first day of teaching advancedplacement calculus was both surprising and disturbing. Of the 26 students watching her, only four were girls, and they sat quietly in class, responding only when she asked them direct questions. One reason that Geri had gone into teaching was to share her interest in math with other females, but this situation gave her little chance to do so. • ● •
Lori Anderson, the school counselor at an urban middle school, looked up from the desk where she was working on her annual report to the faculty.From her coursework at the university and her internship, she knew that boys traditionally outnumber girls with respect to behavioral problems, but the numbers she was looking at were disturbing. In every category—referrals by teachers, absenteeism, tardies, and fights— boys outnumbered girls by a more than 2 to 1 margin.In addition,the number of boys referred to her for special education testing far exceeded referrals for girls. This was a problem that her faculty needed to think about. • ● •
Gender and Society
The fact that males and females are different is so obvious that we usually don’t think about it. Some important differences between the sexes may not be readily apparent, however. Researchers (Feingold, 1995; Halpern & LaMay, 2000) have found, for example, that women generally are more extroverted, anxious, and trusting; they’re less assertive and have slightly lower self-esteem than males of the same age and background; and their verbal and motor skills tend to develop faster than boys’ skills do. In addition, the play habits of boys and girls are different; boys typically prefer more “rough and tumble” play. Why do these gender differences exist? Research suggests the causes are a combination of genetics and environment (Berk, 2003).
Genetics result in physical differences such as size and growth rate and may also influence other differences such as temperament, aggressiveness, and early verbal and exploratory behaviors. Environment plays a part as well. From the day they are born, boys and girls are treated differently (Berk, 2003, 2004; McDevitt & Ormrod, 2002). Often, girls are given pink blankets, are called cute and pretty, and are handled delicately. Boys are dressed in blue, are regarded as handsome, and are seen as tougher, better coordinated, and hardier. Fathers are rougher with their sons and involve them in more physical stimulation and play; they tend to be gentler with their daughters and offer more sex-stereotyped toys, such as dolls and stuffed animals. Not surprisingly, boys and girls grow up looking and acting differently. ISBN: 0-536-29980-3
Gender and Schooling
The differences between boys and girls should generally be celebrated. They’re problems only when societal or school forces limit the growth and academic potential of students—either male or female. Consider these findings which suggest that schools are failing to meet the educational needs of girls:
• In the early grades, girls are ahead of or equal to boys on almost every standardized measure of achievement and psychological well-being. By the time they graduate from high school or college, they have fallen behind on these standardized measures. In high school, girls score lower than boys on the SAT and ACT, two tests that are critical for college admission. The greatest gender gaps occur in science and math, and the gaps are more pronounced at the upper end of scores. Women score lower on all sections of
the Graduate Record Exam, required to get into most graduate programs; the Medical College Admissions Test; and admission tests for law, dental, and optometry schools (P. Campbell & Clewell, 1999; Sadker, Sadker, & Long, 1997). Other research suggests that schools also fail to meet the learning needs of boys:
• Boys outnumber girls in remedial English and math classes, are held back in grade • • • more often, are 3 to 5 times more likely to be labeled learning disabled, and are 2 to 3 times more likely to be placed in special education classes. Boys consistently receive lower grades than girls, receiving 70 percent of the Ds and Fs on report cards, and they score lower than girls on both direct and indirect measures of writing skills. Boys are more likely to be involved in serious school misbehavior. They account for 71 percent of all school suspensions. The proportion of both bachelor’s and master’s degrees earned favors women by a ratio of 54 to 46. (Hunsader, 2002; Riordan, 1999)
Let’s examine some possible explanations for these findings. Again, a combination of genetics and environment is likely at work. Because little can be done about genetics, more attention has been given to environment, particularly gender-role identity differences, expectations and beliefs about appropriate roles and behaviors of the two sexes. Gender issues are controversial. For instance, in 1992’s How Schools Shortchange Girls, the American Association of University Women (AAUW) argued that different treatment of boys and girls by both teachers and society was seriously hampering the educational progress, self-esteem, and career choices of girls and women. In 1998’s Gender Gaps: Where Schools Still Fail Our Children, the AAUW reiterated many of its earlier claims. Counterclaims have also been made. For example, Christina Sommers, author of The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men (Sommers, 2000), has pointed out that—in addition to having lower achievement, more frequent misbehavior, and more frequent placement in special education classes—boys are less likely to do their homework and are more likely to cheat on tests, wind up in detention, and drop out of school. Yet it’s the myth of the fragile girl that continues to receive the lion’s share of attention, she has argued. ISBN: 0-536-29980-3
Chapter 3 Learner Diversity
Is differential treatment of girls and boys really to blame for these problems? The controversies are likely to continue. It’s important to point out that gender-role identity differences aren’t a problem unless they perpetuate stereotypes or negatively influence behavior, learning, or expectations for school success. Research indicates that this may be happening, particularly in math, computer science, and engineering (J. Campbell & Beaudry, 1998; O’Brien, Kopola, & Martinez-Pons, 1999).
Gender and Career Choices Look around the classroom you’re in for this course. If it’s a typical education course, probably three fourths of the students in it are women. The same would be true in nursing classes, but you would find the opposite in math, science, and computer-related fields. Differences in students’ views of gender-appropriate careers appear as early as kindergarten (Kochenberger-Stroeher, 1994). In spite of strong and systematic efforts to address the needs of both boys and girls in today’s schools, when asked about future potential career options, boys continue to be more likely to choose doctor and engineer and girls are more likely to mention nurse or secretary (Riordan, 1999). Significantly, when kindergarten children chose nontraditional roles for males or females, their choice was based on personal experience (e.g., “My friend’s dad is a nurse”). Where do the stereotypes of “appropriate” careers for boys and girls originate? Society and the media perpetuate stereotypes, but ironically, the most powerful source is parents, particularly mothers. For instance, one study found that mothers who held negative gender-stereotyped attitudes about girls’ ability in math adversely influenced their daughters’ achievement in, and their attitudes toward, math (J. Campbell & Beaudry, 1998). Parents can also have powerful positive influences on their children. One female chemistry software developer reported: • ● •
My mother always engendered in me the attitude that I could do absolutely anything I ever want to do. So she really gave me the confidence that is a big part of success in academics and maybe in other things—sometimes you get to a point where you don’t have that much either skill or knowledge, and you have to just go on your guts or your confidence. You have to just kind of push your way through something until you have the time to accumulate the knowledge. And I think that that’s something she engendered in me just by always being herself so confident of my abilities, rightly or wrongly. And my father certainly never detracted from that. He always portrayed her as being the smarter of the two. So I was raised in an environment where women were not only capable but were even potentially very well and highly regarded. (Zeldin & Pajares, 2000, p. 229) • ● •
Gender-stereotypic views can also negatively influence career decisions. Girls are less than half as likely as boys to pursue careers in engineering and physical and computer sciences (AAUW, 1998). At the high school level only 11 percent of students taking the College Board advanced placement test in computer science in 2001 were women (Stabiner, 2003). The percentages of female physicians (26%), lawyers (27%), and engineers (8%), as well as professors in science-related fields (36%), remain low as well (U.S. Bureau of Census, 1998b; U.S. Department of Education, 1998b). The problem of gender-stereotypic views of math, science, and computer science careers is especially acute for minority females (O’Brien et al., 1999). ISBN: 0-536-29980-3
Role models are effective in preventing students from forming gender-stereotypic views about appropriate careers.
Increasing Understanding 3.7
In single-gender classrooms and schools, should the teachers be the same gender as the students? Explain alternate positions, using the information in this section.
Single-Gender Classrooms and Schools One response to gender-related problems has been the creation of single-gender classes and schools, where boys and girls are segregated for part or all of the day (Mael, 1998; Vail, 2002). One researcher found that middle school girls were more likely to ask and answer questions in girls-only math classes than in other coeducational classes (Streitmatter, 1997). The girls also preferred this type of learning environment, saying that it enhanced their ability to learn math and their view of themselves as mathematicians. Research on single-gender schools has revealed other positive effects—for both girls and boys. Girls who attend single-gender schools are more apt to assume leadership roles, take more math and science courses, have higher self-esteem, and have firmer beliefs that they are in control of their destinies (Datnow, Hubbard, & Conchas, 2001).
Advocates of all-male schools claim that they promote male character development and are especially effective with males from low-income and minority families. Although research shows that single-sex schooling has positive effects on both general achievement and achievement in gender-stereotyped fields such as math and science, this research also raises other issues (Datnow et al., 2001; Vail, 2002). For example, because boys and girls are isolated from one another, single-gender schools and classes can exacerbate stereotypic views of the opposite sex (Datnow et al., 2001) and fail to prepare students for the “real world” in which males and females must work together. In addition, some critics question the legality of single-sex classrooms and schools based on Title IX, a federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender (Zehr, 2000c). More research is needed about the long-term effects of these experiments and the ways in which they may (or may not) help students learn and develop. Gender and Schooling: Implications for Teachers What can you do to prevent gender inequities in the classroom? To begin, you should be aware that you may have stereotypical attitudes of your own. Attitudes influence behavior, and you will need
Chapter 3 Learner Diversity
to monitor how you interact with the boys and girls in your classroom. Research indicates that teachers typically call on boys more often than girls, probably because boys are more verbally assertive or aggressive, and boys are more likely to ask questions and make comments about ideas being discussed in class (Altermatt, Jovanovic, & Perry, 1998; Sadker, Sadker, & Klein, 1991). These differences increase as students move through school. In the extreme, these patterns can result in girls becoming less involved in learning activities. As a teacher, what can you do? Several possibilities exist:
• Communicate openly with students about gender issues and concerns. Simply telling your students that teachers often treat boys and girls differently and that you’re going to try to treat them equally is a positive first step. Continue to explain why and how you are attempting to make your classroom gender-fair. Encourage equal participation in all classes, particularly in math and science classes. One demanding but extremely effective technique is to call on everyone in your classes individually and by name, regardless of
whether or not their hands are raised. Arrange to have science and computer experiments and demonstrations, which tend to be dominated by boys, prepared and conducted by both boys and girls equally. Make an effort to present cases of men and women in nonstereotypical roles, such as women who are engineers and men who are first-grade teachers. Encourage girls to pursue science-related careers. Significantly, girls who did so reported that the encouragement received from teachers was an important factor in their career decisions (AAUW, 1992).
• • •
The powerful influence that teachers can have on students is captured in the following remembrance from a 42-year-old female mathematics professor: • ● •
It was the first time I had algebra, and I loved it. And then, all of a sudden, I excelled in it. And the teacher said, “Oh no, you should be in the honors course,” or something like that. So, there’s somebody who definitely influenced me because I don’t think I ever even noticed. I mean, I didn’t care one way or the other about mathematics. It was just something you had to do. I remember she used to run up and down the aisle. She was real excited. . . . She said,”Oh, you gotta go in this other class. You gotta.” And she kind of pushed a little bit, and I was willing to be pushed. (Zeldin & Pajares, 2000, p. 232) • ● •
When teachers believe in their students, students start believing in themselves. No one is suggesting that boys and girls are, or should be, the same. Teachers should, however, attempt to provide the same academic opportunities and encouragement for all.
Hey, babe. Lookin’ good in that sweater! Hey, sugar. Want to make me happy tonight? Comments like these, heard in many classrooms and hallways in our nation’s schools, may constitute sexual harassment. A problem that affects
both males and females, sexual harassment is “unwanted and unwelcome sexual behavior that interferes ISBN: 0-536-29980-3
Sexual harassment often occurs in school hallways, and teachers can play a powerful role in preventing it there and in the classroom.
with your life” (AAUW, 1993, p. 6). It can also interfere with a student’s learning and development. In one survey, 4 out of 5 teenagers (grades 8–11) reported some type of sexual harassment in schools (AAUW, 1993). Sexual comments, gestures, and looks, as well as touching and grabbing, were most commonly cited (Figure 3.3). Several aspects of the AAUW survey are disturbing. One is the high incidence of sexual harassment that occurs in the schools; schools and classrooms should be safe places for learning. Another is a finding that only 7 percent of the harassment cases were reported. In addition, only 26 percent of students were aware of school policies regarding sexual harassment. A more recent survey (AAUW, 2001) found that sexual harassment continues to be a problem in schools. Both boys (79%) and girls (83%) continue to report problems with sexual harassment, and the figures don’t differ for urban, suburban, or rural schools. However, there has been a sea change in awareness of school policies toward sexual harassment. The 2001 study found that 69 percent of students were aware that school policies on sexual harassment existed. This is an encouraging first step, but more needs to be done to make schools safe for all students. Harassment is a particularly acute problem for homosexual students (Meyer & Stein, 2002). One national survey found that 91 percent of homosexual students had encountered anti-gay comments, 69 percent had been verbally abused, and 34 percent were verbally abused on a daily basis (Galley, 1999).
Sometimes the abuse isn’t only verbal: • ● •
When I was changing classes, I had all the books in my hands. . . . I’d hear someone mutter “faggot” and have my books knocked down. People are walking over me as I’m trying to gather my books. I don’t have time to turn around to see who said it. (Sears, 1993, p. 129) • ● •
Students report that treatment such as this makes them feel “sad and worthless” and “powerless” (Shakeshaft et al., 1997). This harassment contributes to higher rates of depression, substance abuse, and suicide for gay students (Berk, 2003). ISBN: 0-536-29980-3
Chapter 3 Learner Diversity
Sexual Harassment in U.S. Schools
80 70 60 Percent 50 40 30 20 10 Sexual Had sexual Touched, Intentionally comments, rumors spread grabbed, or brushed up gestures, about them pinched in a against in a or looks sexual way sexual way Boys Girls Flashed or mooned Shown, given, Had their or left sexual way drawings, blocked messages, in a sexual or photos manner
Source: From American Association of University Women (1993). Hostile hallways: The AAUW survey on sexual harassment in America’s schools. New York: Louis Harris and Associates. Reprinted by permission.
Schools and teachers need to do a better job of making classrooms and hallways safe. Teachers are likely to encounter increased attention to the
problem in light of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that found school districts legally responsible in cases where sexual harassment is reported but not corrected (N. Stein, 2000). Research also suggests that teachers may require additional help understanding the problem and what their professional and legal obligations are (Meyer & Stein, 2002). All students—boys and girls, heterosexual and homosexual—have a right to harassment-free schools. Teachers have an important role in ensuring that this happens. Talk with your students about the problem, and emphasize that no form of sexual harassment will be tolerated.
When you look out over your first class, you’ll see obvious similarities and differences. Your students will be about the same age, and their dress and hairstyles will probably be similar. They’ll come from different cultural backgrounds, and you’ll have both boys and girls. Less obvious, however, will be differences in their ability to learn. In virtually any class, you’ll work with students who master the content effortlessly as well as other students who struggle just to keep up. In this section we examine ability differences and how schools accommodate them.
What Is Intelligence?
To begin this section, try to answer the following questions, and then decide what they have in common. 1. On what continent is Brazil? 2. A coat priced $45 is marked 1 3 off. When it still doesn’t sell, the sale price is reduced by half. What is the price after the second discount?
3. Who was Albert Einstein? 4. How far is it from Seattle to Atlanta? 5. How are a river and a plateau alike? The common feature of these questions may surprise you. Each resembles an item found on the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children–Third Edition (Wechsler, 1991), one of the most widely used intelligence tests in the United States. In other words, experts believe that the ability to answer questions such as these is an indicator of a person’s intelligence. We all have intuitive notions of intelligence; it’s how “sharp” people are, how much they know, how quickly and easily they learn, and how perceptive and sensitive they are. These casual definitions would not satisfy the experts, however. They more precisely define intelligence as the capacity to acquire knowledge, the ability to think and reason in the abstract, and the ability to solve problems (Snyderman & Rothman, 1987; Sternberg, 1986). It is these three dimensions that intelligence tests seek to measure. The test questions at the start of this section are interesting, however, because they tell us about something else that is needed to perform well on most intelligence tests: experience and background knowledge (Halpern & LaMay, 2000; Perkins, 1995). Indeed, research has consistently indicated that experience and background knowledge are essential to the development of problem-solving ability in general as well as the ability to think in the abstract (Bruning et al., 2004).
Increasing Understanding 3.8
If experience is crucial to performance on tests of learning ability, how might performance be affected by growing up in a minority culture?
Changes in Views of Intelligence
Historically, researchers believed that intelligence was a unitary trait and that all people could be classified along a single continuum of general intelligence. Thinking has changed, however, and some researchers now believe that intelligence is composed of several distinct dimensions that, unlike the unified dimensions in our traditional definition of intellience, may occur alone or in various combinations in different individuals. One of the most well-known proponents of the idea that intelligence is composed of more than one factor is Howard Gardner (1983, 1999), a Harvard psychologist who did groundbreaking work in this area. He proposed a theory of multiple intelligences, which suggests that overall intelligence is composed of eight relatively independent dimensions (Table 3.2). Gardner’s theory makes intuitive sense. For example, we all know people who don’t seem particularly “sharp” analytically but who excel in getting along with others. This ability serves them well, and in some instances they’re more successful than their “brighter” peers. Other people seem very self-aware and can capitalize on their personal strengths and minimize their weaknesses. Gardner would describe these people as high in interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligence, respectively.
Despite the theory’s popularity with teachers (Viadero, 2003c), most classrooms focus heavily on the linguistic and logical-mathematical dimensions and virtually ignore the others. If the other dimensions are to develop, however, students need experiences with them. For example, cooperative learning activities can help students develop interpersonal intelligence, participation in sports or dance can improve bodily-kinesthetic abilities, and playing in a band or singing in choral groups can improve musical intelligence.
Increasing Understanding 3.9
If educators were to apply Gardner’s theory, what would an elementary-level report card look like? A high school report card?
Ability: Nature Versus Nurture
No aspect of intelligence has been more hotly debated than the relative contributions of heredity versus environment. The extreme nature view of intelligence asserts that
Chapter 3 Learner Diversity
by Pearson Education, Inc.
Gardner’s Eight Intelligences
Individuals Who Might Be High in This Dimension Poet, journalist
Dimension Linguistic intelligence
Description Sensitivity to the meaning and order of words and the varied uses of language The ability to handle long chains of reasoning and to recognize patterns and order in the world Sensitivity to pitch, melody, and tone The ability to perceive the visual world accurately, and to re-create, transform, or modify aspects of the world on the basis of one’s perceptions A fine-tuned ability to use the body and to handle objects An understanding of interpersonal relations and the ability to make distinctions among others Access to one’s own “feeling life” The ability to recognize similarities and differences in the physical world
Logical-mathematical intelligence Musical intelligence Spatial intelligence
Composer, violinist Sculptor, navigator
Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence Interpersonal intelligence Intrapersonal intelligence Naturalist intelligence
Dancer, athlete Therapist, salesperson
Self-aware individual Biologist, anthropologist
Source: Checkley (1997).
intelligence is primarily determined by genetics. The nurture view of
intelligence emphasizes the influence of the environment. Differences between the nature and nurture views are controversial when race or ethnicity is considered. For example, research indicates that in the United States, children from some cultural minority groups collectively score lower on intelligence tests than White children (Brody, 1992; McLoyd, 1998). People who emphasize the nurture view explain this finding by arguing that minority children have fewer stimulating experiences while they are developing. People adhering to the nature view argue that heredity is the more important factor. In their highly controversial book, The Bell Curve, Herrnstein and Murray (1994) concluded that the contribution of heredity outweighed environmental factors in influencing the intelligence test scores of minority populations, especially African Americans. Methodological problems, such as inferring causation from correlational data, caused other experts to reject this position (Jacoby & Glauberman, 1995; Marks, 1995). In considering the nature–nurture debate, most experts take a position somewhere in the middle, believing that ability is influenced by both heredity and the environment (Petrill & Wilkerson, 2000; Shepard, 2001). In this view, a person’s genes provide the potential for intelligence, and stimulating environments make the most of the raw material. If learning environments don’t provide enough stimulation, however, children may not reach their full potential (Berk, 2003; McDevitt & Ormrod, 2002). For example, researchers tracked children born of low-income parents but adopted as infants into high-income families. Children in the high-income homes received more adult 104
attention, went on more outings, and were exposed to a greater variety of playthings and reading materials. The children in these enriched
environments scored an average of 14 points higher on intelligence tests than their siblings in the low-income environments (Schiff, Duyme, Dumaret, & Tomkiewicz, 1982). School experiences can also lead to increases in intelligence test scores (Ceci & Williams, 1997). A longitudinal study of disadvantaged, inner-city children indicated that early stimulation provided in school settings can have lasting effects on IQ (F. Campbell & Raney, 1995). In addition, attempts to directly teach the skills measured by intelligence tests have been successful with preschool and elementary students (Bronfenbrenner, 1999), adults (Whimbey, 1980), and students with learning disabilities (A. Brown & Campione, 1986).
Ability Grouping and Tracking
The most common way schools respond to differences in learner ability is by ability grouping, the practice of placing students of similar aptitude and achievement histories together in an attempt to match instruction to the needs of different groups (Holloway, 2001; Lou, Abrami, & Spence, 2000). Ability grouping is popular in elementary schools and typically exists in two major forms. Between-class ability grouping divides all students in a given grade into high, medium, and low groups. Within-class grouping divides students within one classroom into ability groups. Most elementary teachers endorse ability grouping, particularly in reading and math. In middle, junior high, and high schools, ability grouping goes further, with highability students studying advanced and college preparatory courses and lower ability classmates receiving vocational or work-related instruction.
In some schools students are grouped only in certain areas, such as English or math. In other schools the grouping exists across all content areas; this practice, called tracking, places students in a series of different classes or curricula on the basis of ability and career goals. Some form of tracking exists in most middle, junior high, and high schools (Braddock, 1990), and tracking has its most negative effects on minorities in the lower tracks (Davenport et al., 1998; Mickelson & Heath, 1999). Why is ability grouping so common? Advocates claim that it increases learning because it allows teachers to adjust methods, materials, and instructional pace to better meet students’ needs (Gladden, 2003). Because lesson components, as well as assessments, are the same (or similar) for students in a particular group,
instruction is also easier for the teacher. Research has uncovered the following problems, however:
Increasing Understanding 3.10
Considering his theory of multiple intelligences, do you think Howard Gardner would favor ability grouping? Explain. How might he modify ability grouping?
• Homogeneously grouped low-ability students achieve less than heterogeneously • • grouped students of similar ability (Good & Brophy, 2003). Within-class grouping creates logistical problems for teachers, because different lessons and assignments are required, and monitoring students in different tasks is difficult (Good & Brophy, 2003). Improper placements occur, and placement tends to become permanent. Cultural minorities are underrepresented in high-ability classes and overrepresented in lower classes and tracks (Davenport et al., 1998; Mickelson & Heath, 1999; Oakes, 1992). Low groups are stigmatized, and the self-esteem and motivation of students in these groups suffer (Good & Marshall, 1984; Hallinan, 1984).
In addition to decreasing students’ self-esteem and motivation to learn, placement in low groups increases absentee rates. One study found that absenteeism increased from Chapter 3 Learner Diversity
8 percent to 26 percent after students’ transition to a tracked junior high (Slavin & Karweit, 1982), with most of the truants being students in the
low-level classes. Tracking can also result in racial or cultural segregation of students, impeding social development and the ability to form friendships across cultural groups (Oakes, 1992). The negative effects of grouping are related, in part, to the quality of instruction. Presentations to low groups are more fragmented and vague than those to high groups; they focus more on memorizing than understanding, problem solving, and “active learning.” StuTeachers minimize the negative effects of ability grouping by using it only when absolutely necessary, such as in reading or math, and by adapting dents in low-ability classes are often instruction to meet the needs of all students. taught by teachers who lack enthusiasm and stress conformity versus autonomy and the development of self-regulation (Good & Brophy, 2003; Ross, Smith, Loks, & McNelie, 1994). Teachers can avoid the problems associated with ability grouping and tracking by working with students in heterogeneous groups whenever possible. Instructional adaptations will be needed, however, to ensure the success of students of varying abilities. Some effective strategies include the following:
• Breaking large assignments into smaller ones and providing additional scaffolding • • • • and support for those who need it Giving students who need it more time to complete assignments Providing peer tutors for students requiring extra help Using small-group work in which students help each other learn Providing options on some assignments, such as giving students the choice of presenting a report orally or in writing (Nyberg, McMillin, O’Neill-Rood, & Florence, 1997; Tomlinson & Callahan, 2001)
Effective teachers adapt instruction to meet the needs of all students; the need for these adaptations is especially acute for low-ability students (Tomlinson & Callahan, 2001).
One thing Chris Burnette remembered from his methods classes was the need for variety. He had been primarily using large-group discussions in his junior high social studies class, and most of the students seemed to respond okay. But others seemed disinterested, and their attention often drifted. Today, Chris decided to try a small-group activity involving problem solving. The
class had been studying the growth of American cities, and he wanted the class to think about solutions to some of the problems of big cities. As he watched the small ISBN: 0-536-29980-3
groups interact, he was amazed at what he saw. Some of the quietest, most withdrawn students were leaders in the groups. “Great!” he thought. But at the same time, he noted that some of his more active students were sitting back and not getting involved. • ● •
How do you like to study? Do you learn most effectively in groups or alone? Do you prefer teacher presentations or reading a textbook? Your answers to these questions reflect your unique learning style, or your preferred way of learning or processing information. Teachers often see differences in cognitive learning styles when they present problems to students. For example, some students jump in and try to solve a problem through trial and error, whereas others sit back and carefully analyze the problem. In learning style theory, impulsive students are students who work quickly but often make errors and reflective students are students who analyze and deliberate before answering. Impulsive students emphasize speed and take chances; reflective students think more carefully and consider alternatives before they answer. Impulsive students perform better on activities requiring factual information; reflective students have an advantage in problem solving. Another difference in learning style involves field dependence/independence, an individual’s ability to identify relevant information in a complex and potentially confusing background (Kogan, 1994).
Field-dependent people see patterns as wholes; field-independent people are able to analyze complex patterns into their constituent parts. In mathematics, for example, a field-independent student would be better at breaking a complex word problem into subcomponents and using relevant information to solve the problem. Research has also revealed learning style differences between introverts and extroverts (Nussbaum, 2002). During small-group discussions, extroverts were more likely to challenge others’ ideas, whereas introverts were more likely to work cooperatively with others to develop solutions to problems. Teachers using these research findings might strategically group these different types of students together so that they could learn from and complement each other. One of the oldest and most popular approaches to learning styles is that proposed by Rita and Kenneth Dunn (1992a, 1992b). Through their work in schools, they observed differences in the ways students responded to instructional environments. Some liked to learn alone, whereas others preferred learning in groups or from a teacher. Dunn and Dunn identified a number of key dimensions on which they suggested student learning styles differed. In an attempt to systematically measure these dimensions, the researchers constructed a learning styles inventory that asked students to respond to statements such as the following (Dunn & Dunn, 1992a, 1992b):
• • • •
Increasing Understanding 3.11
Would a field-independent person more likely be impulsive or reflective? Why? ISBN: 0-536-29980-3
I study best when it is quiet. I like to study by myself. I do my best work early in the morning. The things I remember best are things I hear.
According to Dunn and Dunn, teachers should try to provide optimal learning environments for each student based on responses to the inventory. Despite the popularity of learning styles theory, there is little research evidence linking learning style accommodations to increases in student achievement. In practice, making accommodatations for individual styles in a class of 25 or 30 students
Chapter 3 Learner Diversity
Teachers can meet students’ different learning styles by offering a variety of learning options.
can be quite difficult. A more practical idea may be to teach students to adapt their learning strategies to different tasks and environments. High achievers demonstrate this adaptive flexibility to a greater extent than do lower achievers (Eggen & Kauchak, 2004).
Cultural Learning Styles
Learning styles are also influenced by culture and gender. In typical U.S. classrooms, individual initiative and responsibility are emphasized and reinforced by grades and competition. Competition demands successes and failures, and the success of one student is often linked to the failure of another (D. Campbell, 2000). Contrast this orientation with the learning styles of the Hmong, a mountain tribe from Laos that immigrated to the United States after the Vietnam War. The Hmong culture emphasizes cooperation, and Hmong students constantly monitor the learning progress of their peers, offering help and assistance. Individual achievement is deemphasized in favor of group success. • ● •
When Mee Hang has difficulty with an alphabetization lesson, Pang Lor explains, in Hmong, how to proceed. Chia Ying listens in to Pang’s explanation and nods her head. Pang goes back to work on her own paper, keeping an eye on Mee Hang. When she sees Mee looking confused, Pang leaves her seat and leans over Mee’s shoulder. She writes the first letter of each word on the line, indicating to Mee that these letters are in alphabetical
order and that Mee should fill in the rest of each word. This gives Mee the help she needs and she is able to finish on her own. Mee, in turn, writes the first letter of each word on the line for Chia Ying, passing on Pang Lor’s explanation. Classroom achievement is never personal but always considered to be the result of cooperative effort. Not only is there no competition in the classroom, there is constant denial of individual ability. When individuals are praised by the teacher, they generally shake their heads and appear hesitant to be singled out as being more able than their peers. (Hvitfeldt, 1986, p. 70) • ● • ISBN: 0-536-29980-3
Think about how well Hmong students would learn if instruction were competitive and teacher centered, with few opportunities for student help and collaboration. Some research suggests that Native American, Mexican American, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Island students experience similar difficulties in competitive classrooms (Greenfield, 1994; Triandis, 1995). Cooperation is more important to these groups than competition, which they view as silly, if not distasteful. When students come to school and are asked to compete, they may experience cultural conflict. Getting good grades at the expense of fellow students seems both strange and offensive. Raising hands and jousting for the right to give the correct answer isn’t congruent with the ways in which students interact at home. If forced to choose between two cultures, some young people may conclude that schools are not for them. Although cultural learning styles can provide insights into why some students think and act the way they do, multicultural experts caution against cultural stereotyping: • ● •
Increasing Understanding 3.12
From a nature–nurture perspective, how might cognitive and cultural learning styles differ?
The notion that certain learning styles are associated with different ethnic groups is both promising and dangerous. Promise lies in the realization that low academic achievement among some ethnic minorities may sometimes be attributed to conflicts between styles of teaching and learning, not low intelligence. This leads to the possibility that teachers will alter their own instructional styles to be more responsive to the learning needs of students. Danger lies in the possibility that new ethnic stereotypes will develop while old ones are reinforced, as in “Blacks learn aurally,” “Asians excel in math,” “Mexican American males can’t learn from female peer tutors,” and “Navajos won’t ask a question or participate in a discussion.” (Bennett, 1999, p. 63) • ● •
Keeping these cautions in mind, new teachers can use information about different minority groups as springboards to think about the individuals in their classrooms.
Instructional Responses to Learning Styles
Unquestionably, individual students come to school with different ways of learning and solving problems. The key question is “What should teachers do in response to these differences?” or perhaps, more realistically, “What can teachers do about these differences?” One position would take all instruction and tailor it to the distinctive needs and predispositions of individual students. Field-independent students, for example, would be allowed to work on independent projects, whereas field-dependent students would be allowed to work in small groups. The opposite position strives for balance— for example, by attempting to make impulsive students more reflective (“Now think a minute. Don’t just blurt out the answer!”) and vice versa. Neither of these positions is realistic; in a class of 25 to 30 students, it is virtually impossible to individualize your teaching to meet the distinct learning style preferences of all students. Further, research evidence doesn’t support the practice of tailoring teaching to students’ individual learning styles (Curry, 1990). So why do we study the concept of learning styles? We believe it has three implications for teachers. First, and most important, the existence of learning styles suggests the need to vary our instruction. Evidence supports the notion that teachers who vary the way they teach are more effective than those who repeatedly use the same strategies (Shuell, 1996). Individual projects, student presentations, smallgroup discussion, and cooperative learning all provide alternatives to teacher-led ISBN: 0-536-29980-3
Chapter 3 Learner Diversity
activities and provide flexibility in accommodating individual learning styles. Second, considering learning styles reminds us that our students are, indeed, individuals and helps us become more sensitive to differences in the way they act and learn. In turn, we are less apt to interpret these differences as unimportant or inappropriate, and our classrooms become models of tolerance that provide positive learning environments for all students. Finally, discussing learning styles gives teachers the opportunity to encourage students to think about their own learning and, as a result, to develop metacognition. Metacognition refers to students’ awareness of the ways they learn most effectively and their ability to control these factors. For example, a student who realizes that studying with a stereo on reduces her ability to concentrate, and then turns the stereo off, is demonstrating metacognition. Students who are metacognitive are better able to adjust strategies to match learning tasks than are their less metacognitive peers, and consequentially are more successful students (Eggen & Kauchak, 2004). By encouraging students to think about how they learn best, teachers provide students with a powerful learning tool that they can use throughout their lives.
Students with Exceptionalities
As we’ve seen in this chapter, students differ in several important ways, and effective teachers consider these differences when they plan and teach. In some cases, additional support is required. Students with exceptionalities are learners who need special help and resources to reach their full potential. Exceptionalities include disabilities as well as giftedness. Help and resources can include special schools, self-contained classrooms designed especially for these students, resource rooms where students can go to receive supplemental instruction, and inclusion in regular classrooms with the support of specially trained professionals. Special education refers to instruction designed to meet the unique needs of students with exceptionalities. The terms children with exceptionalities, special education students, children with handicaps, students with special needs, and individuals with disabilities have all been used to describe students needing additional help to reach their full potential.
About 6.5 million students in the United States are enrolled in special education programs, two thirds of them for relatively minor problems (Galley, 2000b; Heward, 2003). Approximately 12 percent of students in a typical school receive special education services (U.S. Department of Education, 2002b). Federal legislation has created categories to identify students eligible for special education services, and educators use these categories in developing programs to meet students’ needs. The use of categories and the labeling that results is controversial, however (King-Sears, 1997). Advocates argue that categories provide a common language for professionals and encourage specialized instruction that meets the specific needs of students (Heward, 2003). Opponents claim that categories are arbitrary, many differences exist within them, and categorizing encourages educators to treat students as labels rather than as people. Despite the controversy, these categories are widely used, so you should be familiar with the terms. The federal law that describes the educational rights of students with disabilities, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (discussed later in this chapter), lists 13 disability categories:
• Autism • Deaf-blindness
• • • • • • • • • • •
Developmental delay Emotional disturbance Hearing impairments including deafness Mental retardation Multiple disabilities Orthopedic impairments Other health impairments Specific learning disabilities Speech or language impairments Traumatic brain injury Visual impairments including blindness
Three categories make up more than 70 percent of the population of students with exceptionalities who have disabilities (U.S. Department of Education, 2002b):
• Students with mental retardation • Students who have specific learning disabilities • Students with behavior disorders In addition, a large number of students are gifted and talented. Accurate figures on the number of students in this category are difficult to come by, and state averages range from less than 2 percent of the total student population in Washington to 15 percent in Wisconsin (National Center for Education Statistics, 2001). Figures are not always comparable because of state-by-state differences in the definition of “gifted and talented.” Despite these differences, it is safe to assume that there are a substantial number of students who are gifted and talented in most classrooms.
Gifted and Talented
Although we don’t typically think of gifted and talented students as having exceptionalities, they often have learning needs not met by the regular education curriculum. Gifted and talented is a designation given to students at the upper end of the ability continuum who need special services to reach their full potential. At one time the term gifted was used to identify these students, but the category has been enlarged to include both students who do well on intelligence tests and those who demonstrate above-average talents in a variety of areas such as math, creative writing, and music (Callahan, 2001; G. Davis & Rimm, 1998). The first step in meeting the needs of gifted and talented students is early identification. Experts recommend using a variety of methods for identification, including standardized test scores, teacher nominations, creativity measures, and peer and parent nominations (G. Davis & Rimm, 1998; Shea, Lubinsky, & Benbaw, 2001). As a teacher, you will have an important role in this process. Although the majority of states require that schools identify students who are gifted and talented, in 2003 only 27 had laws requiring that schools provide services to them (Shaunessy, 2003). Nine states, however, required that schools prepare an individualized education program, like those used for students in special education, detailing specific goals for meeting a gifted student’s educational needs. The regular education teacher may be responsible for adapting instruction for students who are gifted and talented, or students may attend special programs. ISBN: 0-536-29980-3
Chapter 3 Learner Diversity
Acceleration and Enrichment Options for Students Who Are Gifted and Talented Enrichment Options 1. Independent study and independent projects 2. Learning centers 3. Field trips 4. Saturday and summer programs 5. Simulations and games 6. Small-group inquiry and investigations 7. Academic competitions Acceleration Options 1. Early admission to kindergarten and first grade 2.
Grade skipping 3. Subject skipping 4. Credit by exam 5. College courses in high school 6. Correspondence courses 7. Early admission to college
Increasing Understanding 3.13
Using information from this chapter, explain why standardized testing might fail to identify many minority students who are gifted and talented.
Programs are typically based on either acceleration, which keeps the curriculum the same but allows students to move through it more quickly, or enrichment, which provides richer and varied content through strategies that supplement usual gradelevel work (Callahan, 2001; Feldhusen, 1998). Table 3.3 lists some acceleration and enrichment options. Failure to address the needs of these students can result in gifted underachievers, with social and emotional problems linked to boredom and lack of motivation (Dai, Moon, & Feldhusen, 1998; Louis, Subotnick, Breland, & Lewis, 2000).
Students with mental retardation have an exceptionality that includes limitations in intellectual functioning, as indicated by difficulties in learning, and problems with adaptive skills, such as communication, self-care, and social ability (Turnbull et al., 2002). Prior to the 1960s, definitions of mental retardation were based primarily on below-average scores on intelligence tests, but this approach had at least three problems. First, errors in testing sometimes resulted in misdiagnoses, and second, disproportionate numbers of minorities and non-English-speaking students were identified as mentally retarded (Hallahan & Kauffman, 2003; Hardman, Drew, & Egan, 2002). Third, individuals with the same intelligence test scores varied widely in their ability to cope with the real world, and these differences couldn’t be explained based on the tests alone (Heward, 2003). Because of these limitations, adaptive functioning was added to the definition.
Students with learning disabilities have exceptionalities that involve difficulties in acquiring and using listening, speaking, reading, writing,
reasoning, or mathematical abilities (National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities, 1994). Problems with reading, writing, and listening are most common, and disparities between scores on standardized IQ tests and scores on achievement tests (representing classroom performance) are often used for identification. However, experts caution that languageintensive IQ tests may not adequately identify learning disabilities in students who are English language learners (Gunderson & Siegel, 2001). Learning disabilities are assumed to be due to central nervous system dysfunction. ISBN: 0-536-29980-3
Students with learning disabilities make up the largest group of students with exceptionalities—approximately half of the special education population (U.S. Department of Education, 2002b). The category first became widely used in the early 1960s, and the number of school-age children diagnosed as learning disabled has continually increased since then. Students with learning disabilities have the following problems:
• • • •
Increasing Understanding 3.14
Identify at least one similarity and one difference between learning disabilities and mental retardation.
Uneven performance (e.g., capabilities in one area, extreme weaknesses in others) Hyperactivity and difficulty in concentrating Lack of follow-through in completion of assignments Disorganization and tendency toward distraction
Many of these characteristics are typical of general learning problems or immaturity. Unlike developmental lags, however, problems associated with
learning disabilities tend to increase over time instead of disappearing. Students fall further behind in achievement, behavior problems increase, and self-esteem decreases (Hardman et al., 2002; Heward, 2003). Lowered achievement and reduced self-esteem intensify each other, resulting in significant learning problems.
Students with behavior disorders have exceptionalities involving the display of serious and persistent age-inappropriate behaviors that result in social conflict, personal unhappiness, and school failure. The term behavior disorders is often used interchangeably with emotional disturbance, emotional disability, or emotional handicap, and you may encounter these terms in your work. In the definition, the words serious and persistent are important. Many children occasionally fight with their peers, and all children go
SAFE HAVEN: HELPING EMOTIONALLY TROUBLED KIDS GET BACK ON TRACK
The trend in special education is to include students with exceptionalities in the regular education classroom, but some students require extra structure and support to cope with the demands of schooling. This ABC News video examines a day school that assists teens with serious emotional problems. Think About This 1. How well would these students function in regular schools and classrooms? 2. How does this approach to helping students with special needs compare with inclusion? What are the advantages and disadvantages? 3. How could schools and classrooms be adapted to help these students make a successful transition back into a regular classroom? To answer these questions online and receive immediate feedback, go to the Companion Website at www.prenhall.com/kauchak, then to this chapter’s Video Perspectives module.
Chapter 3 Learner Diversity
Increasing Understanding 3.15
Identify at least one similarity and one difference between learning disabilities and behavior disorders.
through periods when they want to be alone. When these patterns are chronic and interfere with normal development and school performance, however, a behavior disorder may exist. Estimates of the frequency of behavior disorders vary (Hardman et al., 2002). Some suggest that about 1 percent of the total school population and about 9 percent of the special education population have these disorders (U.S. Department of Education, 2002b), whereas others suggest that it’s closer to 6 percent to 10 percent of the total population (Hallahan & Kauffman, 2003). Identification is a problem because the characteristics are elusive, making diagnosis difficult (Turnbull et al., 2002).
Changes in the Way Schools and Teachers Help Students with Exceptionalities In the past, students with exceptionalities were separated from their peers and placed in segregated classrooms or schools. However, instruction in these settings was often inferior, achievement was no better than in regular education classrooms, and students didn’t learn the social and life skills they needed to function well in the real world (D. Bradley & Switlick, 1997). Educators and lawmakers looked for other ways to help these students. In 1975 the U.S. Congress passed Public Law 94-142, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which mandates a free and public education for all students with exceptionalities. This law helped ensure consistency in how different states addressed the needs of students with exceptionalities. IDEA, combined with recent amendments, provides the
following guidelines for working with students having exceptionalities:
• Identify the needs of students with exceptionalities through nondiscriminatory • • • assessment. Involve parents in developing each child’s educational program. Create an environment that is the least restrictive possible for promoting learning. Develop an individualized education program (IEP) of study for each student.
The impact of IDEA can be seen in the large numbers of students with exceptionalities now being served. For example, in 1976–1977, just after the law’s passage, the nation educated about 3.3 million children with exceptionalities; presently the schools serve more than 6 million, an increase of nearly 82 percent (Sack, 2000). IDEA has affected every school in the United States and has changed the roles of general and special educators. The Evolution Toward Inclusion As educators realized that segregated classes and services were not meeting the needs of students with exceptionalities, they searched for alternatives. The first was mainstreaming, the practice of moving students with exceptionalities from segregated settings into regular education classrooms, often for selected activities only. Popular in the 1970s, mainstreaming began the move away from segregated services; however, because students with exceptionalities were often placed in regular classrooms without adequate support and services, results were unsatisfactory (Hardman et al., 2002). ISBN: 0-536-29980-3
Inclusion attempts to integrate students with special needs into the regular classroom through instructional adaptations that meet their special needs.
In attempting to solve these problems, educators developed the concept of the least restrictive environment (LRE), one that places students in as normal an educational setting as possible while still meeting their special academic, social, and physical needs. Broader than the concept of mainstreaming, the LRE allows a greater range of placement options, from full-time placement in the regular classroom to placement in a separate facility, if parents and educators decide that this environment best meets the child’s needs. As educators considered mainstreaming and the LRE, they gradually developed the concept of inclusion, a comprehensive approach to educating students with exceptionalities that advocates a total, systematic, and coordinated web of services. Inclusion has three components:
• Including students with special needs in a regular school campus • Placing students with special needs in age- and grade-appropriate classrooms • Providing special education support within the regular classroom Initially, students with exceptionalities received additional services to help them function in regular school settings (Turnbull et al., 2002). Gradually the concept of coordination replaced this additive approach. Special and regular education teachers collaborate closely to ensure that learning experiences are integrated into the regular classroom curriculum. For example, rather than pulling a student with special needs out of the classroom for supplementary instruction in math, a special education teacher would coordinate instruction with the general education teacher and then work with the student in the regular classroom on tasks linked to the standard math curriculum. ISBN: 0-536-29980-3
Chapter 3 Learner Diversity
Inclusion seeks to make all educators responsible for creating supportive learning environments for students with exceptionalities. When inclusion is properly implemented, general education teachers receive help from trained specialists when they have students with special needs in their classrooms. Inclusion is controversial. The specialized help teachers are supposed to receive often isn’t provided, so teachers are left to cope with students’ special needs on their own. Some parents criticize the practice, because they worry that their children will get lost in regular classrooms. Even special educators don’t agree on inclusion (Turnbull et al., 2002). Advocates contend that placement in a regular classroom is the only way to eliminate the negative effects of segregation, whereas opponents argue that inclusion is not for everyone and that some students are better served in separate special classes for parts of the day (Hardman et al., 2002; Holloway, 2001). What does all this mean for you as a teacher? You are virtually certain to have students with exceptionalities in your classroom, and you will be expected to do the following:
• Aid in the process of identifying students with exceptionalities. • Adapt your instruction to meet the needs of students with exceptionalities, ac• tively seeking out the help of special educators in the process. Maintain communication with parents, school administrators, and special educators about the progress of students in your classroom who have special needs. For up-to-date national information and statistics on the implementation of IDEA, go to the Companion Website at www.prenhall.com/kauchak, then to this chapter’s Web Links module.
Defining Yourself as a Professional
As you think about the kind of professional you want to become, you will need to make a number of decisions related to the diversity of today’s students. One of the most important is deciding how you will personally approach issues involving culture, gender, ability, and exceptionalities. For example, one of the paradoxes of culture is that people tacitly believe their cultural views are the “normal” or right ways to look at the world,
and as a consequence, they tend to see others in narrow, stereotypical ways. But if you are to help all students grow as much as possible, you will need to avoid stereotypes and think of each student as an individual. How can you grow in these areas? A number of possibilities exist. For instance, travel can expose you to different cultures, in both the United States and other countries. Gathering experiences in working with cultural minorities, either through volunteer or part-time work, provides another opportunity for growth. Schools that serve high numbers of students who are members of cultural minority groups are constantly seeking adults to work with students both during and after school. LearnISBN: 0-536-29980-3
ing another language can lead to personal and professional growth. Teachers who can speak foreign languages, especially Spanish, not only learn about other cultures but also make themselves more marketable. Similar learning experiences can help teachers deepen their understanding of gender issues. Coaching girls’ athletic teams, for example, can provide you with valuable insights into how girls think and interact. Talking with other skilled teachers can give you ideas about how to encourage students to consider nontraditional occupations and how to maintain gender equity in the classroom. You will need to make many decisions about how diversity will affect your instruction. Many people view instruction as a simple dissemination of information and learning as a process of absorbing that information. In other words, teachers simply explain topics to their students, and students remember the explanations. Research indicates that learning is more complex than this simplistic view, however, and learners are much more than empty vessels to be filled with knowledge; they bring with them a wealth of background experiences, beliefs, and language capabilities that all influence learning. When you enter your first classroom, you will need to build upon your students’ cultural and linguistic backgrounds, forging bridges between their communities and the school community.
To build on students’ strengths, you must discover what these are. Effective teachers do this in a number of ways, including talking with students’ previous teachers, examining students’ cumulative folders, and giving comprehensive preassessments at the beginning of the school year. The most successful teachers go beyond these traditional strategies and establish communication links by reaching out to their students as human beings (Obidah & Teel, 2001). Suggestions for creating these links include the following: • Have students write about themselves and their families at the beginning of the school year. Ask them to share their hopes and uncertainties about the new year and some personal information about themselves and their families, such as their favorite foods and leisure activities, the number of brothers and sisters they have, and how long they’ve lived in the area. Spend time with students at lunch and on the playground. This provides you with opportunities to learn about how they act and feel outside the classroom. Make yourself available before and after school for academic help. Teachers who do this often find that students want to talk about much more than homework problems.
The most important component of a student’s education is you, the teacher: “The beliefs, intentions, and personalities of all teachers play a more significant role in the success of individual students than the curriculum, materials, class size, and [other factors]” (Obidah & Teel, 2001, p. 107). Becoming the kind of teacher that can promote the most possible growth for all students will require a great deal of effort, but it can also provide you with some of the most satisfying experiences that you will ever have.
Chapter 3 Learner Diversity
Cultural Diversity Due to demographic trends, our schools are becoming increasingly diverse. In the past, schools responded to diversity with the goal of assimilation, hoping to “Americanize” students as quickly as possible. Multicultural education, by contrast, attempts to recognize the contributions of different cultures and build on students’ cultural strengths in the classroom. This increase in diversity is also seen in the languages students bring to our classrooms. Different approaches to dealing with this language diversity place different amounts of emphasis on maintaining the first language versus learning English as quickly as possible. Gender Evidence suggests that both boys and girls encounter problems in today’s schools. For girls these problems focus more on achievement, especially in math, science, and computer science, whereas for boys the problems are more behavioral and connected to learning problems. Suspected causes of these problems range from societal and parental expectations to differential treatment in classrooms. Teachers play a major role in ensuring that gender differences don’t become gender inequalities. Sexual harassment is a problem for both males and females and occurs most often in environments where teachers and administrators allow it to occur.
Ability Differences A third dimension of diversity found in today’s classrooms focuses on students’ different abilities to learn. Earlier perspectives viewed ability as unidimensional and unchanging; current perspectives view ability as multifaceted, malleable, and adaptable. Ability grouping is one of the most common responses to this dimension of diversity. Despite its popularity, ability grouping is associated with a number of problems, ranging from inappropriate and rigid placements to substandard instruction in some low-ability classrooms. Learning Styles Cognitive learning styles emphasize differences in the ways students process information and prefer to learn in the classroom. Cultural learning styles reflect the variety of ways that different groups learn and interact. The concept of learning styles reminds us that all students learn differently; effective teachers are sensitive to these differences and adapt their teaching accordingly. Students with Exceptionalities Students with exceptionalities require extra help to reach their full potential. The majority of students with exceptionalities who have disabilities fall into three major categories—students with mental retardation, learning disabilities, and behavior disorders—and a substantial number of students are gifted and talented. Inclusion is changing the way schools assist students with exceptionalities, providing them with a supporting network of services.
ability grouping (p. 105) acceleration (p. 112) assimilation (p. 88) behavior disorders (p. 113) between-class ability grouping (p. 105) culturally responsive teaching (p. 89) culture (p. 84) English as a second language (ESL) programs (p. 92) enrichment (p. 112) ethnicity (p. 85) field dependence/ independence (p. 107) gender-role identity differences (p. 97) gifted and talented (p. 111) immersion programs (p. 92) impulsive students (p. 107) inclusion (p. 115) intelligence (p. 103) learning disabilities (p. 112) learning style (p. 107) least restrictive environment (LRE) (p. 115) mainstreaming (p. 114) maintenance language programs (p. 92) mental retardation (p. 112) metacognition (p. 110) multicultural education (p. 88) multiple intelligences (p. 103) nature view of intelligence (p. 103) nurture view of intelligence (p. 104) reflective students (p. 107) sexual harassment
(p. 100) single-gender classes and schools (p. 99) special education (p. 110) students with exceptionalities (p. 110) tracking (p. 105) transition programs (p. 92) within-class ability grouping (p. 105)
Chapter 3 Learner Diversity
Developing as a Professional
Read the case study, and answer the questions that follow.
Diane Henderson, a fifth-grade teacher at Martin Luther King Elementary school, began her language arts class by saying,“Class, look up at the overhead. What do you notice about the two sentences?” He gave the gift to her. John sent him the letter. She called on Naitia. “The second one has a proper noun.” “Okay. What else?” Diane said, smiling. . . .“Sheila?” “Both verbs are past tense.” “Indeed they are!” Diane nodded and smiled again. “What else, Kelvin?” she asked quickly. “The first has a pronoun for the subject.” “That’s true,”Diane confirmed.“Does everyone see that?”she asked energetically. “Now,let’s look more closely at the first sentence.What is the direct object in that sentence? . . . Randy?” Diane asks as she walks down the aisle. “Her?” Randy responded. “Hmm. What do you think, Luciano?” “Gift?” answered Luciano, hesitating. “Class, what do you think? Is the direct object in sentence one her or gift? Think about that one for a moment. “Okay, Todd, do you want to try?” “Uh, I think it’s gift.” “That’s correct. But why is gift the direct object, Theresa?” “Because that’s what he gave,” Theresa replied. “Good answer, Theresa. The direct object takes the action from the verb. But now, what about her? What is her?” Diane asked, looking around the room. “Well, that’s what we are going to learn about today. Her is an indirect object. An indirect object receives the action. So, in the first sentence, gift is the direct object and her is the indirect object. Now let’s look at the second sentence. It has both a direct object and an indirect object. Who can tell us which is which? Heather?” “The direct object in the second sentence is letter,”Heather responded hesitantly. “Yes, good,” Diane said and smiled reassuringly. “So what is the indirect object? Jason?” Diane continued. “It must be him.”
“Very good, Jason! And why is letter the direct object? . . . Laura?” “Because that’s what John sent.” “And how about him? Why is it the indirect object. . . . Jana?” “’Cause that’s who received the letter.” “Good! Now look at this sentence and tell me which is the direct and indirect object.” The batter hit the shortstop a line drive. “Katya?” “Umm . . . ” “Oh, I know,” Tom blurted out. “That’s great, Tom, but remember what we said about giving everyone in the class a chance to answer? Go ahead, Katya.” “I think line drive is the direct object.” “Good, Katya. That’s right. Now who can tell us why it’s the direct object? . . . Angie?” “Because that’s what the batter hit.” “And what’s the indirect object, Kareem, and why?” “I think it’s shortstop because that’s who the batter hit the line drive to.” “Yes, good answer.” Diane nodded and then wrote an additional sentence on the overhead: Jim passed the papers back to Mary. “What is the indirect object in this sentence? . . . Sean?” Sean looked up suddenly at the sound of his name. “Could you repeat the question?” “Sure, Sean.What is the indirect object in this sentence?” Diane repeated, pointing to the overhead. “Is it Mary?” Sean asked tentatively. “Okay. Good, Sean. And why is it the indirect object? . . . Spence?” “Because that’s who Jim passed the papers to.” “And so, what is the direct object in this sentence? . . . Debbie?” “Papers.” “And just for review, what is the subject? . . . Maria?” “Jim.” “And what about the tense? What tense do we have here? . . . Sara?” “Past.” “Very good, everyone.” “Now, look,” Diane continued.
She reached back and took a tennis ball from her desk. “I want you to pair up with your partner and write a sentence about this tennis ball that contains a direct and indirect object. When you’re done, decide which of you will present your sentence.” As the students began writing their sentences, Diane walked up and down the rows, looking at each student’s work. “Now let’s look at some sentences,” Diane announced after a few minutes. “Someone volunteer a sentence,and I’ll write it on the chalkboard. . . .Okay,Rashad?” “She threw him the tennis ball,” Rashad volunteered. “Very good, Rashad. And which is the direct object in your sentence?” “Tennis ball?” “Good, Rashad. And so, what is him? Jacinto?” “It’s the indirect object.” After discussing several more student examples, Diane continued,“That’s excellent. Now I want each of you to write a paragraph that has in it at least two exam-
Chapter 3 Learner Diversity
ples of indirect objects and at least two other examples that are direct objects. Underline them in each case and label them. If you are having problems getting started, raise your hand and I’ll be by in a minute.” While the students wrote their paragraphs, Diane circulated among them, periodically stopping to comment on students’work and to offer suggestions.Todd,a student who had been receiving extra help from a resource teacher, sat with his head on his desk. “What’s the problem, Todd?” “I can’t do this,” Todd replied with a shrug. “Well, getting started is often the hardest part. Why don’t you write down one sentence and then raise your hand, and I’ll help you with the next step.” At 1:40, Diane announced, “All right, everyone. Please turn in your paragraphs; we’re going to get ready for social studies.” The students passed their papers forward. By 1:45, the students had turned in their papers and had their social studies books out and waiting.
1. To what extent did Diane display culturally responsive teaching in her lesson? 2. To what extent did Diane’s teaching reflect sensitivity to gender issues? 3. What did Diane do to accommodate differences in learning ability and learning styles? To receive feedback on your responses to the Praxis Practice exercises, go to the Companion Website at www.prenhall.com/kauchak, then to this chapter’s Praxis Practice module.
1. Is multicultural education more important at some grade levels than in others? Why? Is multicultural education more important in some content areas than in others? Why? 2. Experts debate whether teachers should adjust instruction to match student learning styles or teach students to broaden their learning repertoires. Which approach is more desirable? Why? 3. Which approach to teaching English to ELL students makes the most sense in the teaching setting in which you hope to find yourself in your first job? Why? 4. Are single-gender classrooms a good idea? Why or why not? 5. What are the advantages and disadvantages of full-time inclusion in the regular education classroom? Should it be used with all students with exceptionalities? 6. What implications does Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences have for you as a teacher? In answering this question, be sure to relate your answer to the grade level and content area(s) in which you plan to teach.
Classroom Observation Guide
Before You Begin: The purpose of these observation activities is to help you understand how classroom teachers adapt their instruction to meet the needs of diverse learners. Several of the items ask you to combine your observations with teacher interviews, which will allow you access to
teachers’ professional thinking. 1. Observe a classroom, and focus on several students from cultural minority groups. a. Where do they sit? b. Who do they talk to and make friends with?
c. Do they attend to the class, and are they involved? d. Do they participate in classroom discussions? Ask the teacher how these students perform in class and what he or she does to build upon the differences in these students. Analyze the teacher’s response on the basis of the information in this chapter. 2. Observe a class during an interactive questioning session. a. Note the number of boys and girls in the class. b. Where were the boys and girls seated? c. Did boys and girls raise their hands to respond equally? d. Record the number of times boys and girls were called on. Were they equal? e. Did the number of management interventions vary by gender? How gender-neutral was the class? What can teachers do to make their classes more gender-neutral and a better place for both boys and girls to learn? 3. Observe a class working on an in-class assignment. As you do this, circulate around the room so you can observe the work progress of different students. Note the following: a. Beginning times—Do all students get immediately to work, or do some take their time starting? b. On-task behaviors—What percentage of the class stays on task throughout the assignment? c. Completions—Do all students complete the assignment? What do they do if they don’t? d. What forms of help or assistance are there for students who need it? e. Options—What options are there for students who complete their assignments early? On the basis of your observations, how diverse is this class in terms of learning ability? What concrete steps
could a teacher take to address this diversity?
Going into Schools
1. Interview a teacher about the diversity in his or her classroom. How do students differ in terms of the following: a. Culture b. Home language c. Learning styles d. Multiple intelligences e. Learning ability What does the teacher do to accommodate these differences? Summarize these responses, and analyze them using information from this chapter. 2. Ask the teacher to identify several cultural minority students. Interview these students, and ask the following: a. How long have you been at this school? b. What do you like most about school? c. What do you like least about school? d. What can teachers do to help you learn better? On the basis of students’ responses, suggest several things a teacher could do to make the classroom a better learning environment for these cultural minority students.
Chapter 3 Learner Diversity
3. Interview a teacher to investigate his or her use of the following strategies to address differences in learning ability: flexible time requirements, grouping, strategy instruction, and peer tutoring and cooperative learning. Answer these questions: a. Are differences in learning ability a problem for the teacher? Explain. b. Does the teacher use any of the strategies mentioned in the book? Which ones work and why? Have any been tried that didn’t work? c. Does the teacher employ any other strategy for dealing with differences in learning ability? What implications do the teacher’s responses suggest for you, and how you would teach in your future classroom? 4. Interview a teacher about working with students with exceptionalities in the classroom. Answer the following questions: a. Which students are classified as exceptional? What behaviors led to this classification? What role did the teacher play in identification? b. In working with students with exceptionalities, what assistance does the classroom teacher receive from the following people? • Special education teacher • School psychologist or school counselor • Principal c. Ask the teacher to share an individualized education program. What are its major components? How helpful is an IEP to the teacher when working with exceptional students in the classroom? d. What is the biggest challenge the teacher faces in working with students with exceptionalities? In a paragraph or two, describe what your approach will be in working with students who have exceptionalities.
Virtual Field Experience
If you would like to participate in a Virtual Field Experience, go to the Companion Website at www.prenhall.com/kauchak, then to this chapter’s Field Experience module.
Online Portfolio Activities
To complete these activities online, go to the Companion Website at www. prenhall.com/kauchak, then to this chapter’s Portfolio Activities module.
Portfolio Activity 3.1
INTASC Principle 9: Commitment Personal Journal Reflection The purpose of this activity is to encourage you to think about your own personal experiences with the different dimensions of diversity you have encountered during your educational experiences. First, analyze yourself in terms of the different dimensions of diversity identified in Figure 3.1, “Dimensions of Diversity.” How have these different dimensions of diversity influenced your development as a person? Next, think
about your personal experiences with these different dimensions of diversity during your education. Finally, reflect on how these different personal experiences with diversity will influence your effectiveness as a teacher of diverse students, and think about things you can do to fill in any learning gaps.
Portfolio Activity 3.2
Exploring Cultural Diversity
INTASC Principle 3: Adapting Instruction The purpose of this activity is to introduce you to the cultural diversity in an area where you might teach. Contact the State Office of Education in a state where you’re thinking of teaching (addresses and Web sites can be found in Appendix B). Or contact a district in which you might teach (school district telephone numbers can be found in the White Pages of the telephone directory, in the Business Section under “Schools”). Ask for demographic information on cultural minorities and ELL students. Summarize the information briefly, identifying major cultural groups and possible implications for your teaching.
Portfolio Activity 3.3
Exploring Careers in Special Education
INTASC Principle 9: Commitment This activity is designed to acquaint you with teaching career options in special education. Visit the Web site for the Council for Exceptional Children, the national professional organization for special educators (the address can be found in Chapter 3’s Web Links module on the Companion Website at www.prenhall.com/kauchak). Click on “Student
CEC” for information on Tools You Need, Career Info, Goals, Chapter Directory, and Regional Contacts. The Career Info module contains additional information on résumé writing, interviewing, and building a professional portfolio. Write a brief description of career opportunities in special education and how your talents and personality might match these.
Chapter 3 Learner Diversity