February 02, 2017

Dissertation highlight: Margaret (Meg) Koch, EdD ’15

University Supervisors and Culturally Responsive Teaching

University Supervisors and Culturally Responsive Teaching


Culturally responsive teaching is seen as a promising practice that will enhance teachers’ ability to meet the needs of today’s diverse student population. The purpose of this study was to understand how White supervisors talk about race and culture in the classroom, and in regard to their role of preparing pre-service teachers. Because supervisors’ work is grounded in student teachers’ classrooms, they are uniquely positioned to respond to specific incidents in the student teacher’s experience and thereby have a primary role in shaping teachers’ instructional practices.

This dissertation research examined twelve White university supervisors. Prior to this study, supervisors participated in professional development offered by the college aimed at raising awareness of culturally responsive teaching. The professional development was part of Griffin and Watson’s (2014) initial study, and offered opportunities for supervisors to discuss topics of race, culture, ethnicity, class, and gender, and to engage in reading Gay’s (2010) text: Culturally Responsive Teaching: Theory, Research, and Practice. Griffin and Watson collected data, including a pre- and post- survey, a November interview, and artifacts from the professional development.

Their study established the starting point for this research. All twelve supervisors were interviewed following participation in the professional development. Findings indicated supervisors defined and described culturally responsive teaching by relying on elements congruent with the literature. Even when supervisors used language similar to Gay (2010), they held misconceptions and formed incomplete definitions about culturally responsive teaching. Other findings indicated supervisors lacked a clear vision in their role in supporting culturally responsive teaching.

Lastly, supervisors used hegemonic understandings when talking about race and culture. The results of this study suggest supervisors need more opportunities to talk about race and culture, and their role in preparing culturally responsive teachers.