Date of Award

12-2004

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)

Degree Program

Global Leadership - with a specialization in Educational Leadership

Department

College of Education

First Advisor

Frederick Dembowski

Second Advisor

William Leary

Third Advisor

Cheryl Serrano

Abstract

Increased immigration to the United States over the past fifty years has led to a dramatic increase in enrollment of language minority students in schools throughout the United States. Federal and state laws mandate that public schools accommodate the unique needs of these linguistically and culturally diverse students. English language learners (ELLS) require academic and affective support from their teachers when they are included in mainstream classrooms.

Teachers' attitudes toward their students have been shown to be a predictor of student success. Teachers with positive attitudes are more likely to have received training and are also able to modify their instructional strategies when teaching a diverse student population. The fundamental importance of teacher attitude in predicting student success motivated the researcher to investigate the factors that contribute to teacher attitude.

To determine these factors the researcher utilized a quantitative research design, employing a survey and multiple regression analysis. The self designed two-part survey was distributed to six hundred South Florida elementary public school teachers who had ELL students in their mainstream classrooms. The first part of the survey contained demographic and background questions which were used to obtain the independent variables of the study. The second part consisted of thirty statements, the responses which enabled the researcher to determine the attitude of participants (dependent variable). The relationships between the variables were studied using multiple regression analysis.

The major factors contributing to teacher attitude that emerged from the multiple regression study were (in decreasing order of importance): previous cross cultural experience, ethnicity, administrative support and specific training in working with English language learners.

The results of the study emphasize the importance of participation of all teachers in cultural and linguistic diversity training as part of their teacher preparation programs and ongoing professional development. This training should include cross cultural field experiences. The significant contribution of ethnicity to teacher attitude underlines the importance of recruiting a diverse faculty of teachers to schools and teacher education programs in institutions of higher education. The study also indicates that administrative support is of importance to the success of teachers working with a diverse student population.

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