An Examination of Preservice Teachers' Understanding of Diversity and Cultural Awareness after Participating in a Family Heritage Experience
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This qualitative study examines the influence of a genealogical project on the understanding and acceptance of diversity by 72 university undergraduates in a foundations of education in a multicultural society course. Student-generated papers at the beginning and end of the course supply all of the data. The topics for investigation – specifically ancestry, culture, and diversity – arise from the research questions, and content analysis enables the collection of data on these topics. A summary of each of the three topics from both papers establishes the participants’ understanding of these subjects before and after completing the genealogical assignment, and therefore makes comparisons possible. In the first paper, which is an autobiography, the students who mention their ancestors, view them as relatives who lived many years ago in foreign countries and about whom they know very little. The ancestors in their final paper, which focuses on the genealogy project, are exciting people who had important connections, interesting jobs, and accomplishments that made the students proud. When students address culture in their autobiography papers, they focus more on the culture of other people than on a culture of their own. In their final papers, their thoughts on culture expand to include their own culture which they relate to their ancestry and the many different cultures they find in researching their family background. In their autobiographies, participants’ view of diversity is a simplistic connection to race or anything different from themselves, but in the final paper they have a more complicated definition that includes themselves. They explain acquiring this expanded view of diversity from researching their family tree and collecting family stories that reveal their own background to be different from what they had known. They evolved from knowing very little about their heritage to seeing themselves as belonging to a diverse family and having a diverse background. As they recognized their own diversity, they begin to acknowledge how this will help them as teachers of diverse students.
Foundations Of Education
Waller, Kristina Elizabeth (2016). An Examination of Preservice Teachers' Understanding of Diversity and Cultural Awareness after Participating in a Family Heritage Experience. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from