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The light in their eyes: creating a multicultural education course for doctoral-level students

Clarisse Halpern (Department of Curriculum, Instruction, and Culture, College of Education, Florida Gulf Coast University, Fort Myers, Florida, USA)
Hasan Aydin (Department of Curriculum, Instruction, and Culture, College of Education, Florida Gulf Coast University, Fort Myers, Florida, USA)

Journal for Multicultural Education

ISSN: 2053-535X

Article publication date: 3 March 2020

Issue publication date: 7 April 2020

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to investigate the perceptions of graduate students about the need for a multicultural education course at doctoral level in a mid-sized higher education public institution in Southwest Florida.

Design/methodology/approach

A qualitative case study method was applied with multiple sources of data collected, including semi-structured interviews, observations and students’ written papers, online discussions and assignments that aimed to prepare educators to teach culturally diverse students and challenge their own perceptions about culture, race and other multicultural education-related topics.

Findings

The findings indicate that, even though the multicultural education course promoted an eye-opening transformational experience for students through their interactions and learning from each other, the students still need further training in multicultural education because of their limited culturally responsive teaching skills.

Research limitations/implications

Limitations of the study are that both the researchers were deeply involved with the material and the class, as the class professor and one of the students, which might have affected the authors’ perception about the students’ journey in learning about multicultural education. The researchers’ dual-role (as researchers and course professor and graduate assistant) might have influenced the participants’ responses, as they knew they were part of a research project. Thus, the participants’ spontaneity in sharing their opinions and beliefs about multicultural education may have been hampered, perhaps responding what the researchers expected rather than with their authentic perspectives on the topics.

Practical implications

The implications of this study to teachers, educators and practitioners are that it invites the readers to reflect on their academic preparedness to work with culturally diverse students. For policymakers, the study indicates the need for creating standards that aim to examine in-service graduate student teachers about their self-efficacy, readiness and dispositions to work with culturally diverse students.

Originality/value

Because of the limited publications on doctoral students learning multicultural education, the authors’ study offers an important insight into the transformational experience of doctoral students learning multicultural education and the implications for improving graduate courses in multicultural education.

Keywords

Citation

Halpern, C. and Aydin, H. (2020), "The light in their eyes: creating a multicultural education course for doctoral-level students", Journal for Multicultural Education, Vol. 35 No. 2, pp. 85-100. https://doi.org/10.1108/JME-11-2019-0079

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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