Instructor Perceptions of Social Education Integration and Effectiveness Within Teacher Education: A Mixed Methods Study

Date

2021-08

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Abstract

Background: The socioeconomic realities of K-12 education need to be addressed and investigated within university-based teacher preparation programs. Today’s public-school teacher population is overwhelmingly white and female, a trend that is also reflected in university-based teacher education programs. However, U.S. Census data show the demographic growth of minoritized groups as white populations decrease. Preservice teachers must be prepared for the realities of teaching in urban and suburban schools that serve racially, ethnically, linguistically, and economically diverse populations. One way to prepare teachers for this reality is implementing social education programming into preservice teacher coursework through the incorporation of critical pedagogies, cultural studies, and place-based education. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to investigate teacher educators’ perspectives regarding social education’s mission, goals, and their utilization within the undergraduate teacher education program at a large, urban, research university located in the southeastern United States. The research question for this study was: what are the perceptions of teacher educators regarding social education’s mission and the effectiveness of its integration within the teacher education program? Methods: This study utilized an explanatory sequential mixed methods design giving priority to the qualitative strand. Through purposeful sampling methods, teacher educators teaching an undergraduate teacher education course during Fall 2018, Spring 2019, and Fall 2019 semesters participated in the study. A data repository was created and secured. In keeping with explanatory sequential mixed methods design, quantitative data were collected first and analyzed, followed by the collection and analysis of qualitative data. Descriptive statistical tests were performed on quantitative data from scaled survey questionnaire items with SPSS. Qualitative data from the focus group interview, individual interviews, and open-ended survey responses were hand-coded using conventional content analysis followed by thematic coding. External rater usage and additional measures ensured trustworthiness in the data. Results: Quantitative data showed teacher educators positively endorsed beliefs and behaviors aligned with critical pedagogies, cultural and media studies, and social studies education as seen in social education. Site-specific data revealed teacher educators were not aware of the mission, goals, or program support of social education; divided on whether preservice teachers could identify and explain issues or examples of social education in their course(s); and strongly believed in social education’s purpose in preservice teacher education although the majority of respondents utilized social education less than half the time in their course(s). Five themes emerged from qualitative data regarding teacher educator perspectives on the mission, goals, and implementation of social education in teacher education. Teacher educators perceived social education to be (a) critical; (b) empowering; (c) necessary; and (d) universal. However, participants perceived a (e) disconnect between the theory and implementation of social education, notably in terms of institutional mission(s) of education, communication, knowledge, and support. Conclusion: Teacher educators possess the dispositions and desire to utilize social education within coursework. Actions should be taken to address the communication and knowledge disconnect perceived by educators who are in the position to integrate social education at all levels and areas of preservice education.

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Keywords

Teacher Education, Program Evaluation, Preservice Teacher Education, Teacher Educator Programs, Social Education, Teacher Education Curriculum, Process Evaluation, Critical Pedagogy, Constructivism, Multicultural Education

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