New teacher perspectives on their preparation for working with diverse learners

Valerie M Trice, Tennessee State University


The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine new teachers' perspectives on their preparation for working with diverse learners. The nation's demographics are constantly changing. Likewise, today's classrooms are reflective of our changing nation. Many teachers enter the classroom unprepared to teach students from varied cultural, racial, linguistic, academic, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Although most teachers who enter the teaching profession come from a middle class background, many of these teachers find themselves assigned to teaching in schools that are comprised of low-income, high minority students. The problem that prompted this study is the lack of preparation among new teachers, which would enable them to work effectively with diverse learners. The term diverse learners includes those students whose academic performance in school that is influenced by gender, socioeconomic status, race, culture, disability, ethnicity, and language. Schools are social institutions; therefore sociocultural/situated cognition was used as the theoretical framework. The sociocultural/situated cognition perspective looked at how individuals learn in a particular environment. A case study was conducted with three new teachers of diverse learners teaching in a school located in southwest Tennessee. This study examined the detailed journey of three new teachers on their level of preparation as they worked with diverse learners. Data were collected using multiple sources, such as questionnaires, teachers' reflexive journals, focus group interviews, classroom observations, and researcher's field notes. All data were analyzed using the constant comparative method. The results showed that all three teachers felt the overwhelming pressure of teaching students who were at different proficiency levels. Two of the three teachers were enrolled in graduate school and teaching on transitional licenses. These two teachers relied heavily upon their own experiences as students to effectively work with diverse learners. Whereas, the other teacher was fully certified and relied upon her undergraduate program instructional practices as a means for working effectively with diverse learners. Other results revealed the degree of preparedness of these new teachers working effectively with diverse learners, and the administrative and instructional support that is needed among new teachers. This study provided several recommendations and implications for teacher education programs and local school districts.

Subject Area

Education|Teacher education|Curriculum development

Recommended Citation

Valerie M Trice, "New teacher perspectives on their preparation for working with diverse learners" (2015). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI3709230.