A Survey of Diverse Literature Use and Integration in Secondary English Language Arts Classrooms



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Background: Diverse literature that tells the stories of traditionally minoritized groups is an integral part of critical literacy and has been proven to increase reader empathy and tolerance, cultural and socio-political consciousness, and inspire action towards social justice. While diverse literature has gained popularity in K-12 classrooms, few studies have focused on teacher diverse literature attitudes (DL attitudes) and its correlation with teacher multicultural attitudes (TMAS). Purpose: The study aimed to (a) examine to what extent and what kinds of diverse literature teachers use in secondary English Language Arts (ELA) classrooms and (b) investigate the association between teacher multicultural awareness and diverse literature use and attitudes. The research questions guiding the study are: (1) To what extent do secondary ELA teachers integrate diverse literature in their classrooms? (2) To what extent and how do teacher-level factors impact teacher diverse literature attitudes and multicultural attitudes? and (3) To what extent does teacher multicultural awareness affect diverse literature use and attitudes? Methods: Data were collected from 38 current secondary ELA teachers across three racially diverse school districts in a metropolitan city in the South through a survey with scaled and open-ended responses. Quantitative data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, ANOVA, and multiple linear regression among constructs and teacher-level factors (e.g., race, years teaching, political orientation, and school district). Qualitative data were analyzed using the constant comparative method and existing themes from the literature. Results: Among the texts used the most within the past three years as noted by teachers, fiction (45%) was the most popular genre with 58% of the books written for adults, and an average publication date of 1953. Books were predominately written by white authors (47%) followed by Black authors (30%). Other popular OwnVoices authors were Asian American and Latinx though they constitute less than 17% of the texts noted by teachers. LGBTQIA, Indigenous, and disability stories were the least represented. There was a significant difference (p = .010) between teachers of color and white teachers who said they would change the literature currently used. 80% of teachers of color said they would change it compared to 60% of white teachers. Teachers noted district mandates and lack of funds as the largest obstacles to integrating more diverse literature. When teachers did use diverse literature, it was less a heroes to holidays approach during heritage months and more strategically integrated through the curriculum though still not towards teaching to take action for social justice. Political orientation was the sole teacher-level factor that predicted both DL attitudes (p = .01) and TMAS (p = .00). The more liberal a person identified to be the more positive their DL attitudes and TMAS. TMAS also predicted DL attitudes (p = .00). Conclusion: The findings in the study show that the diversity of literature used in classrooms is expanding and following publishing trends with an increase in Black, Asian American, and Latinx voices. However, other forms of diversity including LGBTQIA, Indigenous, and disability stories are still lacking in the curriculum as well as teaching for social justice.



Diverse literature, Multicultural literature, Literacy education, Critical literacy