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Teachers’ multicultural attitudes and perspective taking abilities as factors in culturally responsive teaching

Ceren su abacioglu.

1 Research Institute of Child Development and Education, Educational Sciences, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Monique Volman

Agneta h. fischer.

2 Department of Psychology, Social Psychology, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Culturally responsive teaching (CRT) has been associated with increased student engagement and achievement. Its practice in classrooms, however, has been shown to be less than optimal. Nonetheless, certain teacher qualities have been suggested to facilitate its practice.

The current study sought quantitative evidence in support of two of these teacher qualities, namely teachers’ multicultural attitudes, and their perspective taking abilities. By identifying the strength of the suggested relationships, we aimed to examine the generalizability of previous findings in the literature and inform teachers’ professional development and interventions.

A total of 143 primary school teachers from different parts of the Netherlands responded to our online survey.

We conducted a multivariate multiple regression analysis to investigate the relationship between these qualities and teachers’ engagement in two separate but related components of CRT (i.e., socially sensitive and culturally sensitive teaching).

Results of our analysis yielded significant relationships between the two teacher qualities and the frequency with which teachers engage in socially and culturally sensitive teaching. Perspective taking was a stronger predictor for both aspects of CRT.

These findings signal the significance of incorporating especially perspective taking experiences and exercises into teacher education and professional development programmes, which could benefit all students regardless of their backgrounds. Our results are promising as these qualities are malleable and thus can be improved.

The debate around diversity currently is a salient and permanent aspect of educational discourse, as learning and teaching in multicultural classrooms have brought major challenges to both teachers and students. The educational position of students with a migration history still continues to be disadvantaged compared to their peers with no history of migration (OECD, 2016 ). These findings suggest that more attention should be paid to factors that may support students’ educational success (Phalet, Andriessen, & Lens, 2004 ).

In general, students feel valued, more capable of learning, and more engaged with the learning environment and materials when the teacher is responsive to their needs (e.g., Gay, 2010 ; Nieto, 2004 ). Culturally responsive teaching (CRT), defined by Gay ( 2010 , p. 31) as ‘using the cultural knowledge, prior experiences, frames of reference, and performance styles of ethnically diverse students to make learning encounters more relevant to and effective for them’, has been particularly associated with increased engagement and interest in school and increased educational achievement of minoritized students (Aronson & Laughter, 2016 ). While there is a plethora of research on how to improve CRT, its practice in the classrooms has been shown to be less than optimal (Lim, Tan, & Saito, 2019 ). One explanation for this problem could be that certain teacher qualities are necessary for effective CRT (Gay, 2013 ).

The current study aims to contribute quantitative evidence to the existing literature by examining teacher qualities that have previously been suggested to be essential for CRT (reviewed in Rychly & Graves, 2012 ). More specifically, we investigate teachers’ perspective taking abilities and their multicultural attitudes in relation to their self‐reported CRT. To the best of our knowledge, the current study is the first to examine these connections quantitatively. With this quantitative evidence, we can examine the generalizability of previous findings in the literature, using a larger sample and more robust data. Additionally, by examining the strength of the suggested relationships, we hope to gain more insight in teachers’ professional development and most effective interventions.

Culturally responsive teaching

The unfavourable educational position of ethnically minoritized students has been attributed to a mismatch between home and school cultures (Phalet et al. , 2004 ). Advocates of CRT have therefore argued that academic knowledge and skills should be connected to students’ personal experiences and frames of reference within a supportive and cooperative environment. This way, learning becomes more meaningful and engaging (Gay, 2000 , 2002 ). Indeed, different aspects of CRT have been found to be related to positive student outcomes, such as increased student engagement, better achievement, and more positive peer relationships.

As detailed by Gay ( 2002 ), CRT includes developing a culturally diverse knowledge base by learning about differences in communication and learning styles, and attending to unique cultural qualities of the students and their realities (e.g., racism and discrimination). In order to build this knowledge base, teachers need to learn about the various elements of students’ culture—ranging from tangible culture or family experiences, artefacts, and events to intangible culture such as values, traditions, language, and identity—through their own research and meaningful relationships with students (Morrison, Robbins, & Rose, 2008 ). This can be accomplished by, for instance, making home visits at the beginning of the school year, giving opportunities to students to share personal experiences via classroom discussions, or asking students to write stories about their lives (Morrison et al. , 2008 ). This would help teachers to identify the ways in which mainstream schooling and culture may differ from the home culture of certain students, and how their culture and language may contribute to their attitudes and behaviours. Turkish society, for instance, is characterized by generational hierarchy. Accordingly, children’s relationships with authority figures such as their fathers and their teachers are, to a great extent, marked by conformity, whereas taking initiative and posing questions are discouraged (Sunar & Fişek, 2005 ).

Culturally responsive teaching also implies designing culturally relevant curricula and culturally responsive instructions to make learning more relevant and effective (Gay, 2002 ). Relating learning materials to students’ personal lives can vary from simply posting a song that shows acknowledgement of their students’ backgrounds (Landsman, 2006 ) to a more thorough examination of the teaching material in order to ensure that it does not only reflect the mainstream perspectives. Feger ( 2006 ), for instance, showed that her students, who were predominantly migrants from the Caribbean and Central and South America, were more engaged in reading, more critical about the reading material, and were able to identify more with the selected texts when she included literature that offered characters and problems similar to her students’ lives. Dimick ( 2012 ) also showed that when students in an environmental science class were included in a shared decision‐making process to create school projects relevant to their community, they felt not only academically but also socially and politically empowered.

Lastly, CRT comprises demonstrations of cultural caring, building a learning community, and effective cross‐cultural communication (Gay, 2002 ). In addition to the challenges of addressing diversity issues within the curriculum, the need to address social competence has been increasing, as this is crucial for student engagement (see, e.g., Self Determination Theory; Deci & Ryan, 1985 ). Team‐building activities, for example, promote social cohesion and a sense of solidarity. Creating an inclusive social–emotional climate helps students to feel more at ease when they express personal opinions and experiences (Cuseo, 2000 ). Moreover, Harriott and Martin ( 2016 ) reported that cooperative learning opportunities among students who differ in their cultural heritage and achievement levels promote friendship formation, prosocial interactions, acceptance of differences between peers, and support for others’ learning. These opportunities thus may help students from various groups to familiarize with each other, facilitate exchange of cultural information, learn to value diversity, and use the cultural resources of their peers in creative problem‐solving (Johnson & Johnson, 2000 ).

In sum, various CRT practices may lead to more critical and active learning and better school engagement (see Morrison, Robbins, and Rose's synthesis of research on what CRT 'looks like' in classrooms; 2008 ).

Teacher qualities essential for CRT

The aforementioned relationships between different aspects of CRT and positive student outcomes suggest that the educational position of minoritized students could be improved with teachers’ attention to the variability in their students’ experiences and needs. However, notwithstanding the expanding literature on these positive outcomes and the availability of practical information on how to improve educational and pedagogical practices, CRT has been criticized to be either not implemented at all (Kim & Pulido, 2015 ; Ladson‐Billings, 2014 ) or implemented at a rather superficial level, such as through celebration of ethnic foods (Sleeter & McLaren, 2009 ). This suggests that many teachers could further improve their capacities to adapt their teaching to the needs of a diverse student body. With the current research, we will examine whether specific teacher qualities are related to the frequency with which teachers engage in the more meaningful aspects of CRT.

In their review, Rychly and Graves ( 2012 ) identified three teacher qualities that are especially important for CRT. First, teachers should be able to take their students’ perspectives. This involves replacing one’s own frame of reference by the other’s perspective, and understanding where their students come from and where they stand, when preparing their educational environment, forming and/or implementing the curriculum and the instructional material (Cooper, 2004 ; McAllister & Irvine, 2002 ; Robins, Lindsey, Lindsey, & Terrell, 2006 ). Second, teachers should develop positive attitudes and beliefs about other cultures, as well as be aware of their own cultural frames of reference (Grant & Asimeng‐Boahene, 2006 ; Nieto, 2004 ). Lastly, teachers should have knowledge about cultures that are represented in their classrooms to be able to adjust their teaching accordingly (Rychly & Graves, 2012 ). In the current study, we test the first two proposed relationships by examining whether teachers’ perspective taking abilities and multicultural attitudes are associated with the frequency with which they engage in CRT.

Perspective taking – the ability to perceive things from a point of view other than one’s own (Moskowitz, 2005 , p. 277), has been proposed to be a desirable trait for teachers in multicultural settings. It has been previously associated with appreciation and respect for individuals’ unique experiences, and with flexibility, reduced stereotyping (Galinsky & Moskowitz, 2000 ), and sensitivity to different cultures (Germain, 1998 ). Teachers who can take the perspectives of their students are able to better understand their students’ different needs and adapt their instruction and curricula to match these needs (Darling‐Hammond, 2000 ; McAllister & Irvine, 2002 ). Teachers who can take others’ perspectives are expected to be more successful in providing unbiased education (Rychly & Graves, 2012 ). We therefore hypothesized that (H1) teachers who have higher perspective taking abilities will more frequently engage in CRT.

In addition to being able to take others’ perspectives, teachers’ own attitudes and beliefs are suggested to be important for CRT as well. Especially implicit stereotypes and negative attitudes can influence student judgements and contribute to unfavourable educational outcomes of minoritized students (Tobisch & Dresel, 2017 ). Teachers’ decisions on selecting students for various academic tracks, for instance, have been found to be affected by stereotypical achievement expectations that are activated by as little information as a prototypical name (Tobisch & Dresel, 2017 ). Teachers cannot effectively engage in CRT, unless they hold positive attitudes towards diversity and are aware of their own, sometimes biased, attitudes and beliefs about other cultures (Nieto, 2004 ). We use the umbrella term ‘multicultural attitudes’ to reflect ‘teachers’ awareness of, comfort with, and sensitivity to issues of cultural pluralism’, following the definition of Ponterotto, Baluch, Greig, and Rivera, ( 1998 , p. 1003). Teachers with more positive multicultural attitudes consider cultural diversity as an asset and feel more compelled to address issues around diversity in their teaching (Ponterotto et al. , 1998 ). We therefore hypothesized that (H2) teachers who have more positive multicultural attitudes will engage in CRT more frequently.

The current study

We tested whether the extent of teachers’ CRT practices is associated with (1) teachers’ perspective taking abilities and (2) teachers’ multicultural attitudes. Our target group was primary school teachers. Primary school years are very important in students’ developmental trajectories with long‐term consequences in their academic and social development (Swanson, Cunningham, Youngblood, & Spencer, 2009 ). In addition, we asked teachers to report on their own ethnic background as well as the concentration of ethnically minoritized students in their classroom, since teachers in these classrooms might be more aware of issues around diversity (Edwards, 2016 ) and thus might engage more in CRT (Thijs & Verkuyten, 2014 ). Previous studies have shown that the urgency to give attention to diversity matters is more apparent in schools with higher concentrations of ethnically minoritized children, whereas in schools with fewer ethnically minoritized children, discussing such matters is perceived as less relevant and thus harder to achieve (Agirdag, Merry, & Van Houtte, 2016 ). Moreover, with increased exposure to a diverse student body, teachers may develop more positive attitudes and more awareness about diversity (Allport, 1954 ). Accordingly, beginning teachers, for instance, may find dealing with diversity more challenging. We therefore also included teachers’ age and years of teaching experience in our study (van Tartwijk, den Brok, Veldman, & Wubbels, 2009 ).

Participants

Hundred and forty‐three primary school teachers from cities in all regions of the Netherlands responded to an online advertisement targeting our specific sample. Participants received €10 for their participation. One person was excluded on the basis of not attending to the questionnaire (all questions had the same ratings), and eight participants were excluded for not meeting our selection criteria. Moreover, one participant was excluded due to her scores that were multivariate outliers. 86.9% of the remaining sample ( M age  = 38.93, SD age  = 11.71, 84.7% female) indicated Dutch as their first ethnic affiliation, 19.7% of which also identified with a second ethnic background. 13.1% of the sample did not specify their ethnic backgrounds. The participants were predominantly female and white, as also found in previously published studies conducted in the Netherlands (e.g., Abacioglu et al. , 2019 ; Van Den Bergh, Denessen, Hornstra, Voeten, & Holland, 2010 ). Our sample demographics mirror the teaching force in the Netherlands, which has been increasing in diversity, but is still fairly homogenous.

Procedure and design

All the questionnaires were administered in Dutch. In order to ensure correct translations, the English questionnaires were translated from and back‐translated to English (except for the Interpersonal Reactivity Index for which we used an existing translation in Dutch, see the Materials section). Moreover, items were reviewed by a team of seven individuals comprising teacher educators, in‐service teachers, and educational scientists for the appropriateness of the items for the Dutch educational context.

For participant recruitment, we used Facebook’s advertising opportunities to target teachers with the desired background (i.e., primary school in‐service teachers in Dutch schools). The advertisement included minimal information, indicating that we are recruiting for a study on cultural diversity. The study’s duration and the amount of monetary compensation were included in the description.

Ethical approval for this study (2017CDE7604) was granted by the Ethics Review Board of the Faculty of Social and Behavioral Sciences, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The participating teachers filled in an online survey on Qualtrics that lasted about 15 min to complete. Participation was voluntary and anonymous as the survey ended immediately if the participant did not give consent at the beginning of the survey.

Culturally responsive teaching practices

Teachers responded to 40 statements on a 5‐point Likert‐type scale, about their practices in student assessment, curriculum and instruction, classroom management, and cultural enrichment. The items were based on the Culturally Responsive Teaching Self‐efficacy Scale (CRTSES; Siwatu, 2007 ), but have been adapted to measure practices in the classrooms. An example item from the survey is ‘I identify the diverse needs of my students’ (responses on a scale from 1: never to 5: always).

Some items were excluded from our analyses because of the following reasons: they were not representative of the Dutch educational context, they were too subject specific (e.g., ‘I tell about the achievements of culturally different others in Math’), they were about the home life of the students, or they were too similar to other items. For instance, the item ‘I identify ways in which standardized tests can be prejudiced against culturally different students’ does not apply to the Dutch context, because as in the Netherlands a nation‐wide standardized test is used by all schools (i.e., CITO). Individual teachers do not have any control over its content.

Conceptually, we retained items that fell under two categories: items that were representative of teachers’ cultural responsiveness (e.g., ‘I use the cultural background of my students to make learning meaningful’), and an overall responsiveness to students’ academic (e.g., academic strengths and weaknesses of students) and social needs (e.g., positive relationships with classmates). In order to test this categorization, we performed a factor analysis with two forced factors as detailed in the Data Analysis section. Examining the factor structure of these items indicated a good fit for a two‐factor solution of the data. Throughout the text, these categories are referred to as ‘culturally sensitive teaching’ (α = .83) and ‘socially sensitive teaching’, respectively (α = .73). Sum scores were calculated per category (see the Appendix for the retained items and their factor loadings).

Perspective taking

Teachers’ self‐reported perspective taking abilities were measured using the perspective taking subscale of the Dutch version of the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (De Corte et al. , 2007 ), originally developed by Davis ( 1983 ). Participants responded to seven items on a 5‐point Likert scale (1: does not describe me well, 5: describes me very well), asking them to report how likely they are to try seeing things from another person’s point of view. An example item from the survey is ‘I sometimes try to understand my friends better by imagining how things look from their perspective’. Sum scores were calculated per participant. Higher scores indicate stronger perspective taking abilities (α = .72).

Teacher multicultural attitudes

Teachers’ cultural awareness and sensitivity were assessed with the Teacher Multicultural Attitudes Survey (TMAS; Ponterotto et al. , 1998 ). Teachers responded to 20 statements on a 5‐point Likert scale (1: strongly disagree, 5: strongly agree). An example item from the survey is ‘Teachers have the responsibility to be aware of their students’ cultural backgrounds’. TMAS has shown low social desirability and is unique in its focus on the educational context. It has yielded convergent correlations with scales measuring individuals’ subtle racial and gender bias (e.g., the Quick Discrimination Index; Ponterotto et al. , 1995 ) and attitudes towards and interactions with outgroup members (e.g., the Multigroup Ethnic Identity Measure, Other Group Orientation subscale; Phinney, 1992 ), supporting its construct validity with r  = .45 and r  = .31, respectively (Ponterotto et al. , 1998 ). Sum scores were calculated per participant. Higher scores indicate more positive attitudes and higher awareness. Reliability for the measure was α = .77.

Data analysis

Analysing patterns of missing values indicated that more than 5% of the values were missing completely at random (MCAR) with χ 2 (1,220) = 1267.158, p  = .170. Missing data were handled using pairwise deletions, as this method produces consistent and hence relatively unbiased estimates of the parameters when the data are MCAR (Allison, 2009 ). Checking the Mahalanobis distance using both sum scores and subscale scores from our measures indicated one multivariate outlier in our data ( df  = 8, α = .05), which was excluded from our sample.

To confirm the factor structure of the items, we retained from the Culturally Responsive Teaching Practices measure (based on Siwatu, 2007 ), we performed a factor analysis using the remaining sample. The value of Kaiser–Meyer–Olkin Measure of Sampling Adequacy (KMO) was .78, indicating that the strength of the relationships among items was high, and Bartlett’s test of sphericity was significant, χ 2 (190) = 644.521, p  < .001. The data hence met the assumptions of factor analysis.

The factor analyses were performed using the maximum‐likelihood extraction method. An Oblimin rotation was used as factors were expected to be correlated. We first discovered the factor structure with an exploratory factor analysis, χ 2 (100) = 100.774, p  = .459, and also examined a three‐factor solution, χ 2 (133) = 166.962, p  = .025. However, in line with our conceptual categorization, the two‐factor solution fit our data the best, χ 2 (151) = 217.508, p  < .001. The first factor had an eigenvalue of 5.338 and accounted for 26.7% of the variance in the data. Factor two had an eigenvalue of 2.106 and accounted for further 10.6% of the variance (see Appendix for the factor loadings).

In addition, we investigated whether there were any differences between groups of teachers with different ethnic identities regarding the main variables in our study. A one‐way MANOVA was performed with teachers’ self‐identified ethnic background (only Dutch, Dutch and another, only another) as the grouping variable, and their perspective taking, multicultural attitudes, and CRT as the variables to be compared. We did not find a significant difference on these variables based on ethnic background, F (8, 204) = .611, p  = .606; Wilk's Λ = .940, partial η 2  = .03 (see Table ​ Table1). 1 ). Subsequently, participants who indicated another affiliation than Dutch (e.g., Turkish) or an additional ethnic affiliation to Dutch (e.g., Moroccan–Dutch) were grouped together to form one group for easier interpretation of our analysis results.

MANOVA results for teachers grouped by their ethnic affiliation

CRT = Culturally responsive teaching.

As we considered two predictor variables in order to explain values of two dependent variables (i.e., the two components extracted from CRT: culturally sensitive teaching and socially sensitive teaching), we used multivariate multiple regression to analyse our data. This approach is equivalent to performing separate univariate regressions independently for each dependent variable. However, the current analytical approach does not assume that the responses are independent from each other and do account for the correlations between the dependent variables (Johnson & Wichern, 2015 ). Type 3 sums of squares method was used to estimate the effects of predictors on the dependent variables after controlling for all the other variables in the model.

Table ​ Table2 2 presents descriptive statistics and zero‐order correlations among the variables. Teachers’ Background Qualities were not related to any of the outcome variables. The Concentration of Ethnically Minoritized Students in teachers’ classrooms, on the other hand, was related to teachers’ Attitudes, Perspective Taking Abilities, and their Culturally Sensitive Teaching. Teachers who reported more positive Multicultural Attitudes, higher Perspective Taking Abilities, and more frequent Culturally Responsive Teaching worked in schools that had higher Concentration of Minoritized Students.

Descriptive statistics and zero‐order intercorrelations

The highest possible scores are indicated in parentheses.

Years of teaching is presented in years, which was strongly correlated with teachers’ age ( r  = .92, p  < .01).

Minoritized student concentration in classrooms was strongly correlated with minoritized student concentration in schools ( r  = .88, p  < .01). Hence, teachers’ age and their schools’ minoritized student concentration are not presented in this table.

* p  < .05; ** p  < .01.

In order to test our hypotheses that teachers’ Perspective Taking Abilities and Multicultural Attitudes are uniquely associated with Culturally Responsive Teaching Practices, we conducted a multivariate multiple regression analysis with Perspective Taking and Multicultural Attitudes as predictor variables, and their Culturally Sensitive Teaching and Socially Sensitive Teaching as the dependent variables, while we controlled for their classroom’s Ethnically Minoritized Student Concentration. The results of the analysis are presented in Figure ​ Figure1 1 .

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Object name is BJEP-90-736-g001.jpg

The multivariate multiple regression model. The regression coefficients are unstandardized (the measurement scale is the same for all variables). * p  < .05; ** p  < .01. Model R 2  = .28.

Teachers’ more positive Multicultural Attitudes and higher Perspective Taking Abilities were significantly associated with engaging more in both the Culturally and Socially Sensitive aspects of Culturally Responsive Teaching. For both predictors, the relationship was stronger for the Culturally Sensitive compared to the Socially Sensitive Teaching component. Further, Perspective Taking, compared to Multicultural Attitudes, was a stronger predictor of both components.

The current study investigated teachers’ perspective taking abilities and their multicultural attitudes in relation to their self‐reported CRT practices. In doing so, we sought evidence in support of teacher qualities that have previously been suggested to be essential for CRT (Cooper, 2004 ; Grant & Asimeng‐Boahene, 2006 ; McAllister & Irvine, 2002 ; Nieto, 2004 ; Robins et al. , 2006 ; for a review see Rychly & Graves, 2012 ).

Our findings supported both hypotheses. Teachers who had better perspective taking abilities and more positive multicultural attitudes, reported to engage in CRT more frequently. Interestingly, both multicultural attitudes and perspective taking abilities better predicted culturally sensitive compared to socially sensitive teaching. Culturally sensitive teaching seems to be associated with practices that require greater willingness, effort, and ability to understand individual differences that relate to cultural elements. Socially sensitive teaching on the other hand seems to tap individual differences between students that are not necessarily due to cultural elements. Teacher qualities related to taking another persons’ perspective and being aware of diversity of experiences may thus support teachers’ attempts to effectively navigate through these differences.

Another important finding was that perspective taking was a stronger predictor for both components of CRT than multicultural attitudes were. One explanation for this finding could be that when reporting on their perspective taking abilities, teachers reflected relatively more on distinct cognitive processes in comparison with their attitudes, awareness, and beliefs, which are harder to recognize.

Finally, our results showed that teachers who reported more positive multicultural attitudes and better perspective taking abilities were appointed in schools with a higher concentration of ethnically minoritized students. This can be explained in two ways. These teachers might have actively chosen to teach in or did not drop out of schools/classrooms with higher minoritized student concentrations, because they feel more comfortable with dealing with diversity than their colleagues (Thijs & Verkuyten, 2014 ). Alternatively, teaching in rather diverse environments may have resulted in more positive multicultural attitudes and a stronger motivation to take others’ perspectives in teachers, due to an increased exposure to a diverse student body (Allport, 1954 ). Regardless, the finding that these teachers engage more frequently in the culturally and socially sensitive teaching aspects of CRT signals that perspective taking abilities and positive multicultural attitudes are both desirable teacher qualities for good teaching practices. Moreover, in line with previous research that showed that inducing perspective taking was effective in improving attitudes towards stigmatized groups such as the homeless (Batson et al. , 1997 ) and ethnic and racial minoritized groups (Finlay & Stephan, 2000 ), our results also showed that teachers who had better perspective taking abilities reported to have more positive multicultural attitudes.

Practical importance

Teachers’ perspective taking abilities and multicultural attitudes seem critical for negotiating the complexities of diversity in classrooms. These qualities enable teachers to better align their teaching to their students’ needs. Our findings are promising for these qualities are malleable and thus can be improved inasmuch as teachers build on top of their existing knowledge on their students’ values, beliefs, communities, personal lives, and experiences.

Along these lines, Warren ( 2018 ) recommended three specific professional learning experiences that could further teachers’ perspective taking abilities. First, the author recommended teachers to get exposed to texts written on and by culturally and linguistically diverse populations in order to better recognize, determine, and scrutinize examples of institutionalized oppression. Second, the author recommended teachers to participate in the social worlds and realities of individuals from cultural communities that differ from their own. Such experiences should induce changes in teachers’ awareness, attitudes, beliefs, and values about cultural differences. Third, the author postulated that these experiences must be accompanied by critical dialogue with colleagues on a regular basis. Introspection on emotional, behavioural, and cognitive reactions towards students and their families should form the basis of these dialogues.

Thus, similar to perspective taking abilities, meaningful direct contact with people from diverse backgrounds (Allport, 1954 ), and opportunities to reflect on how culture shapes our values, beliefs, biases, and behaviours have been shown to improve attitudes and awareness (Case, 2007 ). Therefore, teacher education experiences similar to that recommended by Warren ( 2018 ) can be introduced to teacher education and professional development programmes. This would support teachers’ capacities to become more effective in teaching a diverse student body. Importantly, our results suggest that strengthening these capacities would not only improve the culturally sensitive teaching aspects of CRT but also teaching in a socially sensitive manner to student needs in general. As such, strengthening these capacities would benefit all students regardless of their backgrounds. These findings signal the significance of incorporating especially perspective taking experiences and exercises into teacher education and professional development programmes.

Limitations and directions for future research

This study also has some limitations. First, although teachers’ own experiences and self‐knowledge are important sources of information, self‐reports are also subject to social desirability and self‐enhancing biases. The anonymity provided by online data collection, compared to other methods such as observations and interviews, helps mitigate this limitation. Yet, individuals may not be fully aware of their own biases, which may obstruct the accuracy of their self‐reports (McDonald, 2008 ). Future research may therefore include information from multiple informants to test the accuracy of these self‐report findings. For instance, the current study measured the willingness and tendency of teachers to take the perspective of others. Whether this is also reflected in their actual perspective taking in the classroom, however, was not investigated.

Second, our measures were quantitative in nature because we aimed to find quantitative support for results from previous mainly qualitative studies. Future studies could include multiple assessment methods, which could contribute to the methodological robustness in measuring complex constructs similar to the ones used in our study. We should note, however, that the measures we used (e.g., the IRI) have been validated in the past in numerous studies, and have also been shown to be predictive of behavioural measures (Bonfils, Lysaker, Minor, & Salyers, 2017 ; Gini, Albiero, Benelli, & Altoè, 2007 ; Hawk et al. , 2013 ).

Third, the actual CRT practices of teachers were beyond the scope of this study. It is important that prospective studies investigate what CRT practices entail and how they differ for teachers with higher perspective taking abilities and more positive multicultural attitudes compared to their counterparts who are rather less skilled and whose attitudes are less positive. ‘The Culturally Responsive Instruction Observation Protocol’ (Powell, Cantrell, Malo‐Juvera, & Correll, 2016 ), providing a comprehensive operationalization of CRT around seven different elements, can be used in combination with self‐report measures to determine the extent of CRT implementation.

Finally, our study focused on the Dutch educational system and therefore we excluded items from the original (English) CRT measure that did not apply to the Dutch context (see Siwatu, 2007 ). Similar to any study of school context, some caution is therefore warranted with generalizing the results of this study to other settings. Moreover, we cannot exclude the possibility that teachers who are more positive on diversity matters were more likely to respond to our social media advertisement for recruiting participants. However, it should be noted that this type of research is almost always subject to selection bias, regardless of the recruitment method (Forgasz, Tan, Leder, & McLeod, 2018 ). That being said, with the increasing use of social network sites for participant recruitment, research on the representativeness of such samples has also increased. A recent study (Zhang et al. , 2018 ) compared results from separate surveys that included participants who were recruited using Facebook, who were independently recruited by a reputable survey research firm, and who were recruited by the American Community Survey, participation of which is required by law in the United States. The authors’ analyses yielded identical outcomes for the surveys regardless of their recruitment method. We are therefore confident that our recruitment method did not compromise the representativeness of our sample and the generalizability of our results.

Despite the limitations, our research supplements the literature with important first insights in a field that is under‐researched. Our results showed that positive attitudes and awareness about diversity, and perspective taking abilities are related to increases in cultural and social sensitivity in teaching. Hence, strengthening these capacities can improve the educational position of students with a migration history, as well as benefit their peers without any history of migration.

Conflicts of interest

All authors declare no conflict of interest.

Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the Yield Graduate Programme grant (project number 022.006.013) obtained from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (De Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek; NWO).

Conceptually, from the Culturally Responsive Teaching Practices measure (based on Siwatu, 2007 ), we retained items that fell under two categories, namely (1) culturally sensitive teaching and (2) socially sensitive teaching. In order to verify this categorization, we performed a factor analysis with two factors. The items and their factor loadings can be found in Table ​ TableA1 A1 below.

Culturally responsive teaching: item selection and reduction

The second part of each item’s name represents the original item number within culturally responsive teaching measure (same as in Siwatu, 2007 ).

CRT = culturally responsive teaching.

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What you need to know about culture and arts education

arts education

Despite the obvious essential linkages between culture and education, they are still not sufficiently integrated into education policies and school curricula in many countries globally. These two fields are often considered as separate policy entities and trajectories. Culture and arts education, the result of the two complementary ecosystems, has the potential to bridge this gap.

UNESCO convened the World Conference on Culture and Arts Education in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates from 13 to 15 February 2024 where the first-ever global framework in this area was adopted. Here is what you need to know about this essential issue. 

Why is culture and arts education essential?

Learners engaged in culture and arts education have better academic and non-academic learning outcomes.  Engagement in various art forms , such as music, dance, and visual arts, can enhance academic achievements, reading skills, creative and critical thinking, agility and collaboration skills. Engagement in such education also correlates with improved attendance, stress reduction, resilience, perseverance, and classroom behaviours.

Culture and arts education expands the essence of learning and makes it fun by going beyond classrooms and traditional educational approaches from lifelong learning, to technical and vocational education and training (TVET).  The theatre stage can be a learning space, NFT art can be a promising career, and indigenous ways of knowing and being can, and should, find their way in the curriculum.

Culture and arts education makes learning meaningful by connecting rural with urban, local with global. It plays a crucial role in valorizing and preserving one’s own culture, heritage and traditions while at the same time reflecting on them in the modern world, in the digital era, understanding everyone’s contribution and uniqueness. 

What are the forms culture and arts education can take?

Culture and arts education encompasses learning about, in and through culture and the arts. Therefore, it can occur across subjects, at all levels of education and in various settings. For example, this process is no longer confined to classrooms: museums, art galleries, libraries and cultural heritage sites are considered equal places of learning, whereas artists, cultural professionals and practitioners play an essential role in transmitting knowledge. Culture and arts education engages learners with built and natural heritage, living expressions, and the cultural and creative industries, promoting intercultural dialogue and linguistic diversity, both online and offline.

By incorporating indigenous knowledge and practices, arts education validates and enlivens diverse cultural perspectives. In Indonesia, school students on Java Island can learn more about their heritage from arts education programmes that familiarize them with the traditional art of shadow puppet storytelling called  wayang kulit , from UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage list. 

How can culture and arts education build skills for the future?

Culture and arts education opens up new employment opportunities.  50 million jobs are created by cultural and creative industries worldwide, and more young people are now employed in the sector than in any other economic activity. While not its primary focus,  culture and arts education cultivates skills such as observation, collaboration, and reflection that are conducive to creativity and adaptability, which are increasingly valued in the modern job market. 

It also builds vital socio-emotional skills to thrive in the world of tomorrow. Research shows that such education fosters compassion for others and empathy. It allows learners to introspect, take different perspectives and develop different ways of understanding the world. Participation in arts activities has also been linked to higher civic engagement, social tolerance, and respectful behaviours towards diversity. 

How can culture and arts education contribute to peace and sustainability?

By connecting local with global and fostering dialogue among generations and cultures, culture and arts education can contribute to peaceful, just, inclusive and sustainable societies. It also offers transformative avenues for reimagining ways of living harmoniously with the earth and preserving social cohesion, which is paramount during times of interrelated global challenges, such as social isolation or environmental crises. For example, freely accessible digitized archives of the leading museums helped learners in different parts of the world connect with other cultures and enrich their learning experiences.

How does arts education address socioeconomic disparities in education?

Integrating culture and arts education into education systems  can help bridge the achievement gap between higher and lower-income students. Research indicates that students from low socioeconomic backgrounds who engage in arts education demonstrate higher academic performance, graduation rates, and motivation to pursue further education.

Culture and arts education can unveil new opportunities and career paths for learners of all ages. For example, technical and vocational education and training in arts and crafts could be a critical social lift, opening new employment opportunities in the context of persisting social inequalities and crises. For example,  UNESCO’s Transcultura program me awards scholarships to young cultural professionals in 17 countries so that they can gain new skills and pursue careers in cultural and creative industries. 

What is the role of UNESCO?

Since its creation, UNESCO has been championing major forward-looking policy transformation processes in culture and education, reaffirming them as global public goods at the forefront of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Some of the key highlights include the UNESCO  MONDIACULT Conference, initiatives within the  Transforming Education Summit and the revision of  the Recommendation on Education for Peace, Human Rights and Sustainable Development.

As a logical next step after the adoption of the 2006 Lisbon Road Map on Arts Education and the 2010 Seoul Agenda, UNESCO convened the  World Conference on Culture and Arts Education to mobilize political commitment around culture and arts education as a powerful lever to transform learning and shape critical skills for future generations. 

As a result of the Conference, UNESCO Member States adopted the new UNESCO Framework on Culture and Arts Education . This guidance document provides a set of principles all stakeholders can follow for shaping and further institutionalizing culture and arts education. It outlines specific goals such education should pursue and concrete dimensions where synergetic links between culture and education should be fostered for the benefit of all learners.

  • World Conference on Culture and Arts Education  
  • UNESCO’s work on  Culture and Education  

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Teachers and students wary about discussing gender identity, study finds.

research paper on cultural education

Activists have engaged in fierce debates in recent years over what kids should learn about race, sexual orientation and gender identity.

A new report from the Pew Research Center shows that while the majority of teachers, students and parents believe it's important to discuss racism in school, their opinions on other "culture war" subjects are mixed. Namely, there's a great divide over whether LGBTQ-related discussions have a place in the classroom. 

Half of teachers, for example, say students should not learn about gender identity in school, including nearly 2 in 3 elementary educators. Teens are also split about whether such discussions should take place in the classroom: About a third say the topic makes them uncomfortable. 

While "culture war" topics are "lumped together" in national conversations, teachers, students and other Americans tend to see these issues as separate, said Juliana Horowitz, associate director of research at Pew. 

Most teachers and members of the general public said parents should not be able to opt their kids out of race-related lessons even if that instruction conflicts with a family's viewpoint, Horowitz noted. But on lessons about sexual orientation or gender identity, roughly half of teachers and most Americans as a whole said parents should have opt-out rights.

As policymakers from both parties push for and pass legislation that dictates whether or how schools can teach about controversial topics, these findings indicate that public opinion on certain threads of that instruction remains very mixed. It also highlights that broad laws that restrict an array of topics can undermine learning. 

One relatively common belief among participants, including those who are right- and left-leaning, was that the government has too much influence over curriculum and that the "culture wars" are harming teachers’ ability to do their jobs. Most teachers say that regardless of what the pundits may say, LGBTQ-related discussions seldom, if ever, come up in the classroom. 

The surveys were conducted last fall among roughly 9,000 people, including about 5,000 members of the general public, 2,500 public school teachers and 1,500 teens.

Do ' culture war ' conversations cause discomfort?

A minority of the teens surveyed in the Pew sample said they are comfortable discussing these controversial themes in school. Just 38% expressed comfort with instruction about racism or racial inequality, and an even smaller portion – 29% – said they're fine with discussions related to sexual orientation and gender identity. 

Teachers were mixed about whether conversations about LGBTQ+ people have a place in the classroom. About half said kids shouldn’t learn about gender identity in school; the other half said they should. 

Among people who supported instruction about gender identity, teachers were twice as likely to say that instruction should acknowledge gender fluidity rather than emphasizing that a person's gender is determined by the sex assigned at birth. About a third of teachers said educators should teach that a person's gender “can be different from the sex they were assigned at birth.” Another 14% of teachers said they should teach that gender is fixed. 

Parents are almost evenly split on this topic of instruction, according to past Pew research. In a 2022 Pew survey , 37% said students should not learn about gender identity in school. There were also 31% who said children should learn that gender can be different from sex at birth. And another 31% said children should learn that gender is determined by sex at birth.

Tiffany Justice, co-founder of the parental rights group Moms for Liberty, said she was concerned that the “hyperfocus” on sexualizing instruction across grade levels was happening at the expense of math and literacy education. “Kids do not need a sexual spirit guide in the classroom,” she said. “They don’t need to know the sexual orientation of their teacher.”

Justice believes that teaching about racism in an accurate and age-appropriate way is far more pertinent than teaching about sexuality.

Ginny Gentles, director of the Independent Women's Forum’s Education Freedom Center, shared that perspective. She highlighted nuances within LGBTQ-related instruction. It’s one thing to teach about same-sex relationships, she said, and another to explain that gender identity isn’t necessarily “aligned with biological reality.”

Kids “are inundated with alternative identities … bombarded with that culture,” she said. “It could be that they’ve had enough.”

One notable finding in the Pew study is how divided teens are – even more than teachers – in their stances on LGBTQ-related education. Close to half said they shouldn’t learn about gender identity in school. A quarter said they would rather learn that gender and sex at birth can be different, and 26% said they would rather learn that sex at birth determines gender. 

“Teens are a lot more comfortable when topics related to racism or racial inequality come up” than when gender identity is discussed, Pew’s Horowitz said. “It may not even necessarily be a discomfort with the topic but perhaps it's a discomfort with the topic in the context of the classroom.” 

LGBTQ+ advocates: Legislative trends hurt young people's mental health 

Casey Pick, director of law and policy at the Trevor Project, which focuses on suicide prevention for LGBTQ+ young people, said research shows the lack of inclusive classrooms in certain communities correlates with higher rates of youth suicide. Inclusion can mean offering lesson plans about the historic contributions of LGBTQ+ people or training that shows teachers how to be allies to queer youth and better respond to bullying.

Pick said she isn’t surprised “that public opinion is divided and that many people feel confused or conflicted on the topic.”

“In recent years we’ve seen a resurgence of legislation that would silence this kind of discussion," she said. "What this (trend) does is it capitalizes on the well-intentioned desire of parents to protect their children.” 

Rae Sweet, a senior education coordinator with the It Gets Better Project, aimed at supporting LGBTQ+ young people, worries the legislative trend toward restricting teachers and the hatred it fuels may help explain the death earlier this month of a gender-expansive student in Oklahoma.

Nex Benedict died after being injured in a fight at school. Benedict's school district had been targeted by Chaya Raichik, a prominent conservative behind the social media account Libs of TikTok, who was recently appointed to a state library advisory committee.

“What would’ve happened if these schools were teaching acceptance?” Sweet said. Sweet said they’ve observed educators going “underground” in their allyship amid growing pressures to remove these lessons from their teaching. 

Jeremy T., a high school student in the Houston area, said he has witnessed resources and supportive imagery being removed from his campus as the "culture wars" have exploded in his state. Pride flags have been banned, and the school library's shelves are largely empty as books go under review en masse over concerns about their coverage of topics such as LGBTQ+ issues.

Jeremy, who asked that his last name be concealed over fear of backlash at school, said his peers regularly make jokes and bullying remarks about queer people. He's surprised that the percentage of teens who said they'd rather not learn about gender identity in class isn't higher.

"It's a misconception from both the right and left, overestimating how progressive young people are," the senior said. "We aren't going backwards – we are (already) in the negative."

Divided opinions harm learning, separate report shows

A separate new report out of the University of Southern California, the largest and most detailed survey of its kind, found that partisan divides continue to determine perspectives on curriculum issues. Those divides were especially predictive of opinions on sexuality and gender identity, the study found.

Still, there are nuances. Fewer Democrats supported transgender inclusion in the curriculum compared with support for inclusion of other "culture war" topics and LGBTQ+ issues. For example, fewer than 2 in 3 supported using a student's chosen pronouns without asking the person's parents or discussing whether students ought to play on sports teams that match their gender identity. 

“The trans issues and gender identity issues are by far the most fraught,” said Morgan Polikoff, an associate professor of education who co-wrote the University of Southern California report. “There is a very real and important discussion to be had about what is age-appropriate with regard to these topics. … It’s not that we should definitely do all of these things or shouldn’t do any of them.”

The intense partisan disagreement on LGBTQ+ issues may help explain why so many teachers want such discussions to stay out of their classrooms.

Of the teachers in the Pew survey, 41% said these debates had a harmful effect on their jobs. Just a sliver said the impact was positive. The remainder of the educators were neutral. 

“Teachers are feeling like this conversation and these decisions are being made without them and without their guidance and without their involvement,” said Horowitz, from the Pew study. “We do see party divides, but when it comes to how much influence teachers have, similar shares of Democratic and Republican teachers say teachers don't have enough influence."

Church education is promoting an endangered species: Dating

In the face of global relationship trends away from marriage formation, the church educational system is taking steps to re-instill a courtship culture..

Jacob Hess

Eliza Anderson, Deseret News

In 1997, the book “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” spread like wildfire among Christian singles. Authored by Joshua Harris, a young man disenchanted with secular dating norms, the book encouraged young people to avoid dating with warnings about the heartbreak that could be involved. 

Most Americans, it turns out, didn’t need much encouragement to ditch dating. Over the last 25 years, dating has gone from an expected norm to a rare exception in many communities.

By many measures, this has accelerated since smartphones became widespread in 2012-2013. A Pew Research survey conducted in October 2019 found nearly half of U.S. adults — and a majority of women — reporting that dating had become harder in the last 10 years. Another 2022 Pew Research Center survey found most singles perceive dating as more difficult than before the pandemic — with 57% of singles surveyed reporting they are not currently looking to date or be in a romantic relationship.

Julia Carter, a U.K. sociologist who researches romantic relationships, also remarked last year on the extent to which dating has become “much more privatized,” thanks to dating apps, where “people tend to be sitting in their rooms on their own flicking through profiles.”

In the hyperdigital immersion of today’s society, in-person interaction for many has come to feel anything but natural. “Oh no, I would never go out for dinner with anyone. It’s just so intense and awkward,” said Sasha in a Guardian article last year . Rachel agreed, “You just don’t want to invest in that. Not just the money, but the time as well.”

240131_DateNight_72.jpg

BYU–Idaho students gather in the Student Center for ice cream as part of the CES Date Night held in Rexburg, Idaho, on Jan. 31, 2024.

Mike Lewis, BYU–Idaho

Some of these same concerns have animated recent efforts by the Church Educational System of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to spark face-to-face social interaction among young adults, including dating. “We have so many young people now who are more connected than ever on Instagram, but they don’t talk to people in real life,” said Elder Clark G. Gilbert, church commissioner of education, in a new Church News interview .

Elder Gilbert described receiving letters from parents stating, “My daughter has been at such and such a university, and hasn’t been on a date for two years.” Other letters say “my son stays up with his roommates gaming all night.”

To provide an extra nudge, leaders at each of the CES institutions — Brigham Young University , BYU-Idaho , BYU-Hawaii , Ensign College , and even BYU-Pathway Worldwide and more than a dozen Institutes of Religion in the U.S. — were asked to host a mass date activity in January, tailored to the needs of students at each campus. 

IMG_8725__1_.jpg

A couple smiles for a photo during the CES Date Night hosted by Ensign College on Jan. 31, 2024.

Ensign College

The aim, Elder Gilbert said, was to help students in “loving” and “low stakes ways,” to “get back in the game and ask someone out.” 

“This wasn’t just a response to societal trends, though they are significant,” Elder Gilbert told the Deseret News, “this was a response to prophetic encouragement.”

Stake presidents in young single adult, or YSA, congregations have orchestrated similar events at a smaller scale for many years. President Wayne Dymock, who presided over the Logan YSA 7th Stake, told the Deseret News about encouraging stake members to bring someone to a formally scheduled date night. “You get a date, have someone set you up on a blind date, or I’ll get you a date.”

“We want you to come, have fun, get to know each other, relax and enjoy dating,” he recalls telling the men and women in the stake.

The recent CES events have scaled these efforts considerably. In the span of a week , an estimated 20,000 young people gathered at these massive date events with the largest being held at at BYU-Idaho with nearly 7,000 students.

Date_Night315.jpg

Couples gather on the BYU–Hawaii campus for the CES Date Night held in Laie, Hawaii, on Jan. 31, 2024.

Monique Saenz, BYU–Hawaii

Organizers at the Utah Valley Institute of Religion in Orem, Utah, felt strongly about requiring all of the 800-900 people in attendance to show up with a date. “This really stretched many students who said they had not been on a date in months,” said Institute Director Sean Dixon. “It was evident, after watching students feel nervous about getting dates, how much this event was needed.”

One student at BYU-I described how his entire family home evening group, who don’t usually go on dates, all got together to get dates for the event. Although admitting initially feeling a bit nervous about trying to host a date night for her smaller group of students, Ashley Parkinson, Institute Director in Columbia, Missouri, spoke appreciatively how “each one did their best to come with a date” to a night of conversation, games and a “fancy dinner,” even if it stretched them.

As reported by Rachel Sterzer Gibson with the Church News , Parkinson finished the night with a message from President Dallin Oaks and her own testimony — sending students out the door with a handout listing inexpensive date ideas and conversation starters, along with a voucher for a local cookie shop to use for a future date.

Alongside a wide variety of activities — from dancing and karaoke to pickleball and board games — there was plenty of free food at these massive date nights. That included 5,000 hot dogs served at BYU, 4,700 servings of ice cream at BYU–Idaho (running out in the first 15 minutes) and 550 taco salads at the Utah Valley Institute of Religion, which stretched to feed closer to 700 people. 

2401_54_150.jpg

Students roast s’mores at fire pits on Brigham Square in Provo, Utah, as part of the CES Date Night on Jan. 31, 2024.

Rebeca Fuentes, BYU

The campus date night “by far exceeded our expectations,” said Allen Jones, BYU-Idaho managing director of student activities. “Every activity was full and bursting at the seams.” Brent Fillmore, an instructor at the Logan Institute of Religion, said turnout also surpassed expectations: “The many couples who attended this monumental event seemed to leave feeling lighter and inspired.”

240131_DateNight_224.jpg

Students pose at a photo booth during the CES Date Night hosted by BYU–Idaho in Rexburg, Idaho, on Jan. 31, 2024.

Underscoring the why. While only a subset of attendees will have a marriage directly sparked through events like this, there are additional benefits to these activities in a day when 18-25 year-olds are the loneliest segment of the US population .

It’s clear event organizers have their eye on something more long-term as well, namely, the cultivation of what Virginia professor Brad Wilcox calls the “ marriage mindset .”

Accompanying the various activities, many of the organizers integrated uplifting religious messages about marriage and embracing one’s divine identity. At BYU–Pathway Worldwide, President Brian K. Ashton and Sister Melinda Ashton touched on various dating and marriage questions in a broadcast titled “ Nurturing Eternal Relationships ,”

In the Church News interview, Elder Gilbert pointed to remarks to young adults by President Russell Nelson in 2022 about identity and by President Dallin Oaks in 2023 about dating and the doctrinal significance of marriage as the true impetus for these events.

“Inside of the Church Educational System, we don’t make up what our priorities are, we look to prophets, seers, and revelators.”

More important than the number of activities and attendees, Elder Gilbert said, was “teaching principles of the proclamation, principles of the family, and amplifying a message from a prophet, seer and revelator.”

“This isn’t a silver bullet,” he acknowledged , in reference to the CES date night events. But he expressed hope that, despite strong societal trends in the opposite direction, these efforts can be a catalyst to re-instill a positive dating culture that will get people away from screens and help them connect together often as fellow Christian disciples.

Rachel Sterzer Gibson contributed to this reporting.

Motherhood and Progression is for Latter-day Saint mothers struggling with LDS cultural beliefs about motherhood. Through ideas from family therapy and teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ, it provides food for thought that can help mothers deconstruct limiting cultural messages, rewrite their stories, and find healing both personally and in family relationships.

Motherhood and Progression Elizabeth Elder Miller

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How LDS Culture Fosters Women's Dependence on External Validation

One aspect of LDS cultural marginalization of women that is not often recognized is how it foster’s women’s dependence on external validation. We are programmed early on to develop a relationship-dependent identity–to base our identity on finding happiness in relationships. We are promised the fairytale ending–finding your “prince,” having the perfect family, and living happily ever after–and there is something that is very addicting about this dream. But my own experience has been that seeking this not only limited by progression and potential, but it limited my relationships. Read more on the topic in my blog post!

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In this episode, I introduce myself and give an overview of Motherhood and Progression. Motherhood and Progression is a new way of thinking about motherhood. It is for mothers within Latter-Day Saint culture who are struggling with the expectation to sacrifice their progression to be constantly available to their children. It is comprised of concepts from Bowen family systems theory (a family therapy theory) and teachings of the church of Jesus Christ. I decided to create Motherhood and Progression due to my own personal challenges in this area. I have felt like a lost sheep in many instances in my life, and it was through coming to better feel my Savior’s love and hear Him that I learned the truths that I needed to find freedom from limiting cultural beliefs about motherhood. Check out my blog post to learn more!

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International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction

HCII 2021: Cross-Cultural Design. Applications in Arts, Learning, Well-being, and Social Development pp 241–250 Cite as

Cross-Cultural Education: The Effects of AR Technology and Learning Styles on Learning Achievements of Sculpture Course

  • Weilong Wu   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0003-3098-9166 9 ,
  • Yen Hsu   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0003-0835-8675 9 ,
  • Xin Cao 9 &
  • Jiangjie Chen 9  
  • Conference paper
  • First Online: 03 July 2021

1542 Accesses

Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNISA,volume 12772)

Objectives: In the wake of the COVID-19 epidemic, more and more schools are opting for online learning, and the integration of AR or VR technology into learning is becoming a trend that is gaining popularity. For learners from different cultures around the world, cross-cultural AR technology may help them improve their learning effectiveness.

With the development of technology, it has become common to integrate technology in teaching and learning. There is a growing debate about the way teachers teach in the school classroom, and there is a general desire for teachers to be the leaders of students, helping them to think and solve learning problems. Such a situation forces teachers to be constantly receptive to new knowledge, to improve themselves, and to better guide their students through flexible and varied teaching styles. Therefore, the use of appropriate technology in the classroom will improve the quality of teaching and the learning experience of students, and the development of augmented reality (AR) technology has brought a great change to the learning in the classroom.

AR technology supports interaction between real and virtual environments, allowing users to manipulate the application interface of AR software. AR technology offers many benefits to the education sector, as it has the potential to engage students in more effective learning than traditional methods. It allows students to participate in real-life 3D environment simulations, increase their attention span, and engage in interactive learning through virtual manipulation.

At the same time, in the learning process, students from different cultural backgrounds will follow their own preferred learning styles to conduct learning activities. Students perform tasks and learning activities in the learning process in accordance with their preferred learning styles. The study of learning styles has been of great value to the field of education, and therefore has received a lot of attention and input from educational researchers, gradually evolving into a separate field of study.

The Sculpture Course is a required course for product design majors and is taught in a way that the instructor demonstrates to students the techniques of making relief clay sculptures. Since no previous research has applied AR technology to the teaching of relief sculpture, this study attempts to investigate the effect of AR teaching style on learning effectiveness when applied to Sculpture Course by using teaching style and learning style as independent variables, and then analyze the difference in learning effectiveness between students with different learning styles in traditional teaching and AR teaching style.

Since no previous research has applied AR technology to the teaching of relief sculpture, this study attempts to apply the unique interactive function of AR technology to the relief sculpture course, allowing students to use AR technology to make relief clay models in the relief sculpture course. Therefore, this study attempts to investigate the effect of AR teaching style on learning effectiveness when applied to relief courses by using teaching style and learning style as independent variables, and then analyze the difference in learning effectiveness between students with different learning styles in traditional teaching and AR teaching style.

Methods: In this study, 39 students from the product design department of a university in China, who were basically from different regions and had different cultural backgrounds, were selected for the experimental design. The students in the experimental group practiced relief sculpture in the AR teaching method, while the students in the control group studied in the traditional teaching method. They were given a pre-test of VAK (Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic Learning Styles) learning styles to distinguish which learning style type they were.

In the pre-test portion, the subjects are first asked to fill out the VAK learning style scale to classify those with different learning styles. After the pre-test, students were informed of the grouping requirements and provided with the same instructional materials and resources (i.e., picture study sheets and AR tools) before proceeding to the experimental design, with the difference being that the control group used the picture study sheets to learn to make the relief clay sculptures, while the experimental group used the picture study sheets and AR tools to learn.

The experiment was conducted in a professional sculpture classroom, and the control group and the experimental group were in two different classrooms for the experiment. At the end of the relief sculpture course, the teacher will score the students’ works and the scores of the works will be analyzed as the learning effectiveness of the study.

Results: The results of the experiment showed that the AR teaching method significantly improved students’ learning outcomes compared to traditional teaching, and that the visual and kinesthetic students performed better than the auditory students in the different learning styles. Auditory students did not differ significantly between the traditional and AR teaching styles.

Conclusions: The results of the study also showed that the AR teaching method has significant differences for different learning styles in cross-cultural contexts, and has a certain enhancement effect for students who are good at learning with their hands. The AR teaching method does have a substantial effect on the Sculpture Course, and will also provide beneficial help in product design education research in the future.

  • AR technology
  • Learning styles
  • Design education
  • Cross-cultural education

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Wu, W., Hsu, Y., Cao, X., Chen, J. (2021). Cross-Cultural Education: The Effects of AR Technology and Learning Styles on Learning Achievements of Sculpture Course. In: Rau, PL.P. (eds) Cross-Cultural Design. Applications in Arts, Learning, Well-being, and Social Development. HCII 2021. Lecture Notes in Computer Science(), vol 12772. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-77077-8_19

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