Culturally responsive pedagogic practice: a case study

Walden, Laurie Ann (2022) Culturally responsive pedagogic practice: a case study. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Scotland’s inclusive framework for education provides guidelines designed to ensure that all pupils in state-funded, faith-based, and independent schools are afforded a quality education. In some schools in Scotland, the number of Muslim pupils may outweigh White Scottish pupils, as is the case of the urban Catholic school at the heart of this research. Adopting a bounded case study methodology with a unique combination of methods, this thesis explored the experiences of staff and pupils in an urban Scottish Catholic primary school with a majority of culturally diverse learners. To meet the needs of their diverse learners, this school has adapted and implemented certain aspects of culturally responsive pedagogy (CRP). The aim of the research was to explore the perceptions of staff and pupils around the challenges to and benefits of the implementation of a culturally responsive pedagogy. Online focus groups, semi-structured, and unstructured interviews with the staff, and a Ketso®-based focus group with pupils provided information about their experiences with CRP practices. In addition, a document analysis of several key Scottish education policies and guidelines was conducted to explore the extent to which they support this work. Finally, a content analysis of the school’s primary communication platforms was conducted to examine how the school shares its culturally responsive practice with the public.

The study’s main findings were: 1) The school implemented a culturally responsive practice from the ground up. With leadership from the headteacher, they started from a place of requiring to address the needs of the diverse learners rather than setting out to implement a specific pedagogy. 2) The lack of a shared understanding of relevant CRP terms and their definitions by stakeholders, as well as the lack of specificity of terms used in policy documents, can determine whether the implementation of a such a pedagogy is successful. 3) The difference between being responsive versus being reactive is an important distinction as the latter can result in an uneven response to a critical event. Preparation is needed to be responsive. 4) The recognition of the intersectionality of pupil identities in educational guidelines and policy is just as important as planning culturally responsive learning. If educators only focus on one identity, for example, the students’ religion, they may miss addressing intersecting and potentially confounding gender and ethnic inequalities. 5) The tenets of CRP can contribute to inclusive practice by helping teachers incorporate the cultures of the learners in their classroom. Recent Scottish legislation advocating anti-racist education, further aligns with CRP and its goal of empowering pupils to address inequities through the development of cultural competence.

As countries with historically less ethnic diversity begin to welcome immigrants and refugees, the importance of schools responding to these diverse cultural identities will be paramount. This unique bounded case study exploring how one school implemented CRP within the framework of Scottish educational policy and principles, will be of interest to other schools facing a similar increase in diversity. Acknowledging and understanding how staff and pupils in this school responded to the implementation of CRP will help other schools anticipate and address issues that may arise.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Education
Supervisor's Name: Sutherland, Professor Margaret and Stack, Professor Niamh
Date of Award: 2022
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2022-82988
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 17 Jun 2022 13:08
Last Modified: 17 Jun 2022 13:08
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.82988

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