Role of School Context and Individual Background on English Teachers' Multicultural Literature Selection Process

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Chung, Rosalie Hiuyan, Education - School of Education and Human Development, University of Virginia
Cohen, Julie, CU-Curr Instr & Sp Ed, University of Virginia

Multicultural literature has many benefits, such as helping students of color practice literacy skills and supporting White students develop empathetic mindsets. However, despite the diversifying student body of the United States, many secondary English teachers continue to mainly use canonical texts written by and featuring Anglo White males. The goal of this dissertation is to examine secondary English teachers’ multicultural literature selection process to identify how to help teachers craft a quality multicultural literary curriculum for their diverse students. Data sources included national survey data from teachers across the United States and in-depth interviews from a purposively selected smaller sample. There were two major sets of findings. The first was that English teachers often had multiple goals for multicultural literature, such as introducing their students to other traditions and honing their disciplinary skills. Teachers determined these goals in part based on their prior schooling experiences with their ethnoracial identity, and in part based on their perceptions of their students’ needs due to their ethnoracial identities. The second finding was that teachers struggled with external challenges from their surrounding school community, such as parent or administration pushback, and internal challenges, like their perceived confidence to instruct on multicultural literature. Teachers’ prior teaching experiences in conjunction with the organizational relationships in their specific school context contributed to teachers' particular challenges with teaching multicultural literature. Implications highlight the need for professional learning opportunities and educative curricula that help teachers learn how different multicultural educational approaches support larger English education goals. This study also underscores the important role of administrators in supporting teachers to use multicultural literature. As such, teacher preparation programs should consider collaborating more frequently with leadership preparation programs to communicate similar multicultural values.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Multicultural Literature, Secondary English Teachers, Text Selection
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