Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Degree

Master of Education

Program

Education

Supervisor

Dr. Pam Bishop

Abstract

Elementary school students have diverse learning needs and their academic learning in particular varies between students especially so for students those from culturally non-dominant backgrounds. The focus of my research is on understanding the perceptions and practices of eleven teachers teaching in two schools within the London, Ontario school system, along with the perceptions of two principals and two vice principals in relation to the organizational learning opportunities provided for encouraging multicultural education. This study’s purpose was to explore what teaching strategies were used to support diverse students’ learning within the classroom setting. My data gathering sought to respond to that purpose and also identify teachers’, principals’ and vice principals’ current perceptions about multicultural education in the Ontario curriculum, and to what extent they have been satisfied with current Program Policy Memorandum No. 119, which was created to support this matter. The data gathered consisted of semi-structured interviews with principals, vice principals, and teachers, document analysis, and observations of teachers. The following themes were identified: Teaching as a service-oriented career; teacher assumptions about race and class; social categorization (“an us versus them” culture); multicultural education at Sunflowers Elementary School; and multicultural education at Carnations Elementary School. An exploratory qualitative case study research was adopted supported by a modified version of constant comparative method of data analysis. The findings from this study have the potential to illuminate teaching approaches that are ultimately intended to create inclusive classrooms for students and more broadly, further contribute to the development of culturally sensitive teaching and curriculum in elementary schools.