Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Dr. Cassie Zippay (Director), Dr. Nancy Hulan, Dr. Tadayuki Suzuki

Degree Program

School of Teacher Education

Degree Type

Master of Arts in Education


The responsibility of educators continues to increase as they serve an increasingly diverse population, while attempting to narrow achievement disparities between students with mainstream backgrounds and those who are culturally diverse. Educator cultural perceptions remain unique to their own background and experiences, yet when presented with the challenge of educating the culturally diverse, teachers are often less than enthusiastic toward their instructional obligations. This study targeted how professional development can enhance teacher capability in a culturally diverse school, with the intent to add to existing literature regarding this topic.

This twelve-week qualitative study examined teacher beliefs pertaining to their own culture and that of their students, and whether or not those beliefs would change once teachers had undergone professional development regarding culturally responsive instruction. This study also analyzed the extent of increase in teacher capability for meeting the needs of culturally diverse students once they had participated in professional development focusing on how to more successfully meet student needs. Three teachers were selected as case study participants and their ideas and instructional practices were critically examined throughout the semester. Several data sources were collected and evaluated, including surveys, pre/post interviews, classroom observations, and journal entries.

Analysis of data alluded to the fact that an affirming attitude toward students who differ culturally and the implementation of culturally responsive instruction is vital to the enhancement of classroom instruction. After further data examination, the researcher concluded that educator life experiences, and especially with diverse cultures, is crucial in maximizing their ability to accommodate culturally diverse students. Case study participants’ personal belief systems and previous encounters were the most influential factors in their maturation throughout the semester.

Implications of this study consisted of the necessity for professional development programs explicitly modeling how to engage in critical and reflective thinking, reminding teachers how imperative it is to develop an affirmative attitude toward diversity, and providing educators experiences with diverse settings and people. The researcher also determined that cultural competence is a persistent process.


Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | Curriculum and Instruction | Teacher Education and Professional Development