• Culturally responsive teaching and student self-efficacy in Alaskan middle schools

      Christian, Scott; Kaden, Ute; John, Theresa; Sesko, Amanda; Ontooguk, Paul; Jester, Timothy (2017-12)
      Culturally responsive teaching may provide practices and dispositions which support closing the achievement gap between minority and Caucasian student populations. For this research, culturally responsive teaching can be considered as teaching practices that address students' specific cultural characteristics. These characteristics include common practices such as language, values and traditions but also include concepts such as communication, learning styles, and relationship norms. The research also presents a definition of culturally responsive teaching that extends beyond curriculum and instruction to focus on student teacher relationships, empathy, and the teacher as learner. This research explores the beliefs and practices around Culturally Responsive Teaching in ten Alaskan Middle Schools. A mixed-methods, sequential explanatory research design was used to answer the research questions: 1. How do teachers identify what is culturally responsive teaching, and what is not? 2. How is culturally responsive teaching implemented in Alaskan middle schools? 3. How is culturally responsive teaching connected to student self-efficacy in Alaskan middle schools? Although culturally responsive teaching has become a recognized practice in the fields of teacher preparation and professional development for teachers, the working definitions as well as evaluation tools are inadequate to describe the actual practice that teachers enact when they are engaged in culturally responsive teaching. Despite state regulations requiring Alaska school districts to include teaching practice of the Alaska Cultural Standards in teacher evaluations, there is only limited focused research available about the implementation of the standards in classrooms. Through semi-structured interviews and surveys with teachers and principals, formal classroom observations, as well as a student self-efficacy survey, this research addresses the lack of research and understanding regarding the relationship between culturally responsive teaching and self-efficacy for middle school students. This study identified the integration of local culture and language into academic content areas, teaching through culture, and the establishment of positive, respectful working relationships with students as promising practices for culturally responsive teaching.