We are the Vanguard, Not the Norm: Stories of Successful Minority Students in Predominantly White Graduate Teacher Education Programs

Publication Year:
1995
Usage 87
Downloads 59
Abstract Views 28
Repository URL:
https://pdxscholar.library.pdx.edu/open_access_etds/1315
DOI:
10.15760/etd.1314
Author(s):
Rennie-Hill, Leslie
Publisher(s):
Portland State University Library
Tags:
Minorities -- Education (Higher); Minority teachers -- Training of; Academic achievement; Teacher Education and Professional Development
report description
Minorities stand increasingly under-represented in the teaching profession; they continue to be under-represented in graduate teacher preparation programs. Despite calls for increased numbers of minority teachers, despite countless well-intentioned recruitment and retention programs, the relative proportion of newly prepared minority teachers is in fact decreasing (Carter & Wilson, 1992). Literally hundreds of studies examine retention programs, identifying the deficits of minorities, noting what program elements work, and establishing characteristics of supportive institutional environments. Unfortunately, knowing what can be done to I increase persistence does not yet translate into doing it. By focusing on a positive correlate--those minority students who successfully complete their programs—this study contrasts with the deficit approach. Employing a critical analysis and feminist and ethnic interpretive perspectives, this qualitative study investigates the experiences of minorities who did complete graduate teacher education programs at 10 predominantly white, public and private, urban, suburban, and rural institutions in the Pacific Northwest. Specifically, the study examines how these minority students understand and interpret their experiences, which events they perceive as enhancing their successes and which ones they know interfered. All minorities who had completed graduate teacher preparation programs at the 10 institutions since 1990 were surveyed. Sections of the survey correspond to categories previously found to correlate with persistence (AME/OMHE, 1992; Attinasi, 1989; Pascarella & Terenzini, 1990; Tinto, 1987). Of the 72% who returned the surveys N = 61), 83% asked to be interviewed. Subsequently, seven respondents representative of the surveyed population each participated in two face-to-face interviews. Ethnographic methods were used to inductively analyze the empirical materials gathered in the research study. Content analysis of the subjects' journals combined with their interview transcripts and surveys enabled triangulation within three different sources of the respondents' own words. Results confirm that minorities see themselves as outsiders within predominantly white institutions. Belonging, or not, frames their institutional experience and mirrors their everyday lived realities in mainstream American culture. Respondents attribute their achievements to individual persistence; examples of persistence cited align remarkably with psychological profiles of resiliency (Benard, 1991). Retention program components are viewed as less significant than the personal resiliency each respondent evidenced.