Annotated Bibliography of Resources for Educational Reform, Coherent Teaching Practice, and Improved Student Learning

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  • Greenleaf, C., Hull, G., & Reilly, B. (1994). Learning from our diverse students: Helping teachers rethink problematic teaching and learning situations. Teaching and Teacher Education, 10, 521-541.

This paper presents research on helping teachers use reflection and inquiry to think about increasingly diverse student populations. The authors begin with a discussion of the changing demographics of American classroomsÑmore diverse students and less diverse teachersÑthat is causing disparity between teachers and their students. One result is that teachers can underestimate the skill, knowledge, and potential of diverse students because they do not understand ways of thinking and communicating that are different from the mainstream. Teachers may bring little personal experience of diversity into their pedagogical decision-making. The authors use a case method to engage teachers in active problem-solving and decision-making. The case described concerns a minority student and her remedial writing class. The authors hoped that the case materials and group inquiry would expand the experiential base of teachers, giving them practice in approaching student performances in an inquiry mode. They found that teachers did engage in inquiry, and many teachers reflected critically on common instructional practices, on power and authority in the classroom, and on the potential significance of cultural differences and diversity. However, not all of the conversations resulted in productive accounts, as some reverted to stereotypical explanations. They concluded that teachers working together could both challenge and reinforce harmful views of students. Group dynamics could influence the problem-solving process. The authors believe that the case method is helpful for most teachers and groups, but they suggest that the case materials may need to augmented by additional materials.

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