Colored Fire: An Analysis of Teacher Candidates' Beliefs about Teaching Diverse Learners before and after a Required Diversity Course

By Jo Ann Higginbotham and Reba Barkley.

Published by The International Journal of Diversity in Education

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper addresses the influence that a required diversity course has on teacher candidates’ beliefs and attitudes toward teaching diverse learners. The researchers used quantitative and qualitative methods of inquiry to determine the results on the candidates’ confidence and underlying ideological beliefs about teaching diverse learners. Studies show that a positive attitude toward teaching culturally and linguistically diverse students is an important quality in teacher candidate development. The multi-colors produced in fireworks are much more beautiful and dynamic than those producing only one color. In a similar manner, the diverse colors of students that make up a classroom provide a welcoming opportunity for teachers to ignite a fire in each student, inspiring them to reach their highest potential. The challenge for teacher education programs is to produce effective educators who reflect affirming beliefs and attitudes toward teaching diverse learners.

Keywords: Diverse Learners, Diversity Course, Teacher Candidates, Teacher Education

The International Journal of Diversity in Education, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp.15-28. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 478.355KB).

Dr. Jo Ann Higginbotham

College of Education, Department of Early Childhood, Elementary, and Special Education, Lee University, Cleveland, Tennessee, USA

Dr. Jo Ann Higginbotham has been a professor in the Helen DeVos College of Education at Lee University for 31 years. She has taught internationally, and at all grade levels. She directs a student teaching program to Bangkok, Thailand, as well as a yearly summer study program to Chiang Mai, Thailand. She has also directed study programs to Ukraine. Her research interests are in the area of teaching diverse learners, international student teaching, children’s reading practices and arts integration.

Dr. Reba Barkley

Assistant Professor, College of Education, Department of Early Childhood, Elementary, and Special Education, Lee University, Cleveland, Tennessee, USA

Reba Barkley has served over 25 years in education. She earned her doctorate in Educational Leadership from Nova University in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Prior to serving 10 years as an elementary school principal, she taught special education. She has been a full-time faculty member at Lee University, Southeast Missouri State University and the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. Dr. Barkley has also served as co-director on summer cross cultural trips with Lee University students to Alaska, the Middle East and Thailand. Her research interests are student diversity and reading instruction.