Through the doors of intercultural perception: An exploration of culturally responsive teaching in Australia and the link to international learning

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This thesis explores the characteristics of culturally responsive teaching in Australia and illuminates the associations with international learning during initial teacher education. Culturally responsive teaching has received little attention in Australia with considerable gaps in theory and practice. Graduate teachers report that they are unprepared for the increasing cultural diversity of Australian’s classrooms. This research builds on evidence that carefully structured international learning can be transformative for pre-service teachers in terms of a shifting and widening of perspectives and to the call for longer term research on the impacts of intercultural learning on teaching practice. The thesis uses the lens of critical pedagogy, complemented by Transformation Theory and culturally responsive teaching theory. The three-phase, mixed methods research utilises a large data set to explore the current characteristics of teacher self-efficacy in culturally diverse classrooms and to examine whether international learning during teacher education influences this confidence in Phase One. Phase Two explores the transformative experiences of 22 participants who travelled to China during their teacher education. Phase Three follows four of these teachers into the classroom to explore their enactment of culturally responsive teaching and to investigate the impact of their international learning on their teaching practices. This research shows that a significant proportion of Australian teachers are not coping with the challenges of culturally diverse classrooms and require professional learning support. Across Australia, teachers report that their initial teacher education was inadequate leading to lack of preparedness to teach in culturally diverse classrooms. For the teachers who had experienced international learning, their classroom practice emphasised inclusion and similarity rather than celebrating difference, which may inadvertently overlook the cultural inequality. Further, the teachers reported a lack of confidence and preparation in the teaching of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives. Critical consciousness was demonstrated by the teachers but was limited in their teaching. However, the thesis shows that carefully scaffolded international learning during initial teacher education did widen perspectives and had a positive association with teacher confidence in culturally diverse classrooms. The research demonstrates the need for educational policies that support the development of critical consciousness for teachers and students including opportunities to examine cultural inequality and view diversity as an asset. The research has implications for an Australian-focused culturally responsive teaching framework, especially incorporating Indigenous perspectives. Teacher preparation for culturally diverse classrooms needs a stronger focus in the current curriculum, and opportunities to acknowledge oneself as encultured and the examination of cultural assumptions and biases are crucial. International learning opportunities during teacher education with purposeful intercultural pedagogy are highly recommended.
    Date of Award2023
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorMoo Sung Lee (Supervisor) & Ann Hill (Supervisor)

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