Sharing Cultural Knowledge Through Intercultural Competence: A Collective Case Study Of Exemplary Content Area Teachers Working With Latina Immigrant Youth In Grades 9-12



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This dissertation research explores the pedagogical approaches of exemplary content area teachers (ECATs) working with Latina students in a public high school context. Research has shown that educators are the leading agents in preparing immigrant youth, and that teacher support and prejudice directly affect students’ academic outcomes. This dissertation is a unique contribution to understanding how ECATs use skill sets, action sets, and decision-making to create an intercultural environment conducive to learning.By employing a collective case study design and qualitative data sources, this study describes how critical pedagogy theories align with principles of intercultural competence. First, a questionnaire focused on teachers’ attitudes, knowledge, and cultural awareness. Next, semi-structured interviews and observations were used to recount teachers’ philosophies, beliefs, and instructional practices. Through ongoing member-checking strategies, participants revisited their responses to discuss how their instructional practices and decision-making related to the promotion of intercultural practices. Educator artifacts were used to support data related to student-centered approaches. Data were analyzed for each participant and across participants. Findings illustrate the uniqueness of ECATs’ instruction in six overarching categories denoting the following predispositions: 1. ECATs approached their practice from a cultural, cross-cultural, and intercultural (C/CC/IC) capital standpoint based on awareness of students’ identities. 2. ECATs maintained a can-do attitude that fostered strong teacher/student partnerships. 3. ECATs showed dynamic professional predispositions that created evolving professional growth. 4. ECATs exhibited genuine care for students, integrating humanistic pedagogies, symbiotic relationships, and an ethic of care. 5. ECATs adopted a student-centered mindset that helped them calibrate their planning, teaching, and assessment. 6. ECATs embraced change and customized pedagogical decisions through ongoing reflection. Implications for further research suggest a need to further investigate the roles adopted by ECATs during changing instructional times. This might expand our understanding of how ECATs’ acknowledgment of Latina students’ C/CC/IC agency enriches the learning and teaching process.