MOFET ITEC - Culturally Efficacious Mathematics and Science Teacher Preparation for Working with English Learners

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Section: Teacher Education Programs
Culturally Efficacious Mathematics and Science Teacher Preparation for Working with English Learners
Country or Region: USA
September 2015   |   Type: Summary

Source: Teacher Education Quarterly, Vol. 42, No. 4, Fall 2015
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

The authors argue that mathematics and science teachers must be culturally efficacious and engage in responsive practices to work effectively with English learners (ELs). They claim that the design of teacher preparation programs plays an integral role in the efficacy development of the teacher.

Methodology
This study employed a mixed methods design.
The participants were 42 secondary mathematics and 58 science teachers; most were women.
The data sources included (a) focus groups with 45 teachers, (b) forum responses from all teachers, (c) interviews with school administrators who had hired ATEP teachers, (d) interviews with project staff, (e) project evaluation survey, (f) the Mathematics/Science Teacher Efficacy Belief Inventory administered upon program entry, (g) Self-Efficacy Beliefs About Equitable Science/Mathematics Teaching and Learning inventories administered upon program completion, and (h) archival records of project evaluators’ reviews.

Discussion

The findings reveal that program and school-context experiences work in tandem to support mathematics and science teachers’ efficacy in working with ELs. The qualitative evidence indicates that these secondary mathematics and science teachers are supported through Accelerated Teacher Education Program (ATEP) to become culturally efficacious. Specifically, for mathematics and science teachers working with ELs, ATEP program sources of efficacy include the cohort model–community of practice; synergistic relationships between teachers, mentors, and school leaders; and the feedback teachers receive on their instructional practices.
The authors expect teachers to be successful with all students, yet often teacher preparation programs do not address populations like ELs; hence there is a lack of preparedness. However, these study’s findings reveal that the ATEP cohort model offers vicarious and physiological efficacy sources via peer support that foster a community of practice enabling the mathematics and science teachers to examine and recognize unexplored identities and multiple selves and begin acquiring a deeper understanding of cultural knowledge.

In addition, the results reveal that the mathematics and science teachers are acquiring cultural efficacy by exploring the sociocultural context of the classroom through teaching interactions and observing mentors modeling instruction.
Furthermore, it is important to note that the success of a teacher preparation program is dependent on the reciprocal collaboration between the teacher education program and schools. A school culture that devalues particular students or embraces a student deficit perspective can be counterproductive for new teachers’ creativity, initiative, and efficacy. In this sense, the role of teacher education programs in supporting teachers’ efficacy development must also include leading innovation for teachers and school leaders already in schools.

The authors suggest that culturally efficacious teacher education programs situated to work persuasively with schools and districts over a long period of time may be best suited to discovering ways to create positive long-term impacts on ELs’ outcomes. The power of synergistic, reciprocal, and collaborative relationship building between schools and teacher education programs is vital. Policies that support the structures and practices that facilitate collective buy-in and interest of teacher education programs and schools working together over a sustained period of time are needed to better understand the nuances for developing culturally efficacious mathematics and science teachers who will make a difference in ELs’ academic outcomes. On the basis of the study’s findings about the design of ATEP structures and practices in general, and the CEEM in particular, several research implications can be drawn. For one, instead of focusing on the entire teacher education program, future teacher education research studies may focus on exploring the impact of one program efficacy source on the development of mathematics and science teachers’ culturally efficacious work with ELs.

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