Culturally Responsive Teaching
CAFÉ New Faculty Seminar Series
February 19, 2004
Dr. Letitia Fickel
College of Education
Session Goals
• Examine the role of culture in learning
• Explore together a conceptual framework
for Culturally Responsive Teaching
• Identify Culturally Responsive Teaching
strategies that will help you address your
identified needs and concerns.
Culturally Responsive Teaching
• Is a pedagogical framework that respects
the backgrounds and contemporary
circumstances of all learners regardless of
individual status and power, and employs
learning processes that embrace the range of
needs, interests, and orientations to be
found among them.
--Wlodkowski & Ginsberg
Educational Goal for a Pluralistic Society
• Create learning experiences that allow the
integrity of every learner to be sustained
while each person is intellectually
challenged in ways that allow them to attain
relevant educational success and mobility.
Epistemological Assumptions
• Knowledge is socially-constructed and
therefore all knowledge is a reflection of the
culture in which is was developed
• Knowledge is not neutral; it is value-laden and
reflects specific beliefs and worldviews
• Education/learning is enculturation; it is the
appropriation of the knowledge of a culture
• Motivation is inseparable from culture
• Language is a primary conduit of culture
What is culture?
• "A shared organization of ideas that includes the
intellectual, moral, and aesthetic standards prevalent in a
community and the meanings of communicative actions"
(LeVine, 1984).
• "...standards for deciding what is, standards for deciding
what can be, standards for deciding how one feels about it,
standards for deciding what to do about it, and standards
for deciding how to do about doing it" (Goodenough,
• "…a dynamic process which people use to make sense of
their lives and the behavior of others" (Spindler and
Spindler, 1990).
Cultural Components
Valu es and Behavioral
Languages and
World Views,
Frames of Reference
What does culture do for us?
• It imposes order and meaning on all our experiences.
• It provides a world view that includes values, ideas, beliefs,
and assumptions about the nature of the world, and the
way it works.
• It provides a perceptual lens through which experiences are
filtered and knowledge and meaning is made.
• It allows us to predict how others from our group will
behave in certain situations, but it is not effective at
providing us ways of predicting how people from other
groups may behave.
• It provides us a language and imagery for talking about
and explaining our world.
Enculturation:Development of Cultural Capital
Individuals acquire their cultural capital, or ability
to function in the group, through:
the many and varied adult-child interactions
interactions between "initiated" youths and children
child-rearing practices
linguistic forms
role modeling of body movements and behaviors in
various situations
• participating in defined and organized events with adults
and other group members
Cultural Diversity of the Individual
Disciplines are Cultures Academic
• Bernstein (1971) argues that induction into a
subject discipline should be understood as
induction into a culture with its accepted
assumptions and supporting beliefs about what
constitutes content knowledge, rules for
determining evidence and forms of inquiry,
formalized language and rhetorical forms, and a
social organization that includes issues of power,
influence, and status.
Building Cultural Capital in Academics
• Create many and varied teacher-student interactions
• Ensure high frequency of interaction between "initiated"
students and “non-initiated” students
• Pay explicit attention to use and development of academic
linguistic forms--speaking, reading, writing.
• Role model behaviors in various discipline-based and or
other academically oriented situations
• Develop a variety of ways that students can participate in
defined and organized events with teacher and other
academic group members
English Language Learning
• There are two types of English language usage--social and
• Cummins (1981) distinguishes these as “Basic
Interpersonal Communication skills” (BICS) and
“Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency” (CALP)
• We cannot assume that because a student seems proficient
with social English that s/he is equally capable in
Academic English.
• It takes ELL’s 5-7 years to become develop native-like
proficiency in CALP, but only about 2 years for BICS.
• Students who grew up speaking dialects of English also
struggle with the development of CALP, and likely were
not explicitly supported in K-12 school in developing it.
Cognitive Academic Language
• CALP enables learners to deal with cognitively
demanding and context-reduced communication
situations and materials, such as lectures, lengthy
class discussions, traditional testing formats,
textbooks, and educational films.
• Context-reduced communicative situations offer
few clues and aides for making sense of concepts
and ideas.
Range of Contextual Support & Degree of Cognitive
Involvement for Communicative Activities
Culturally Responsive Framework
Establishing inclusion
Developing attitude
Enhancing meaning
Engendering competence
– Wlodowski & Ginsberg (1995)
Diversity & Motivation: Culturally Responsive
Establishing Inclusion
• The norms, procedures and structures that
are woven together to form a learning
context in which all learners and the teacher
feel respected by and connected to one
Establishing Inclusion
• Make explicit the classroom norms so that if they are
different from what students are used to at home or in
their communities they are able to understand and
negotiate alternative ways of being.
– Model behavior
– Elicit information about clarity through an on-going
feedback system
– Establish ground rules with students for the discussion of
controversial or sensitive topics and use dialogue structures
• Make collaboration an expected way of proceeding
throughout the course.
• Share ownership of knowing with students.
Developing Attitude
• Norms, procedures and structures that
create through relevance and choice a
favorable disposition among learners and
teachers toward the learning experience and
learning goals.
Developing Attitude
• Develop creative and effective ways to learn about
your student’s lives and interests.
– Conduct interest inventories both general and content
– Use “getting to know you” activities.
• Organize regularly scheduled discussion topics
(including current events) that allow students to
connect course material to the “real world”
• Design course in ways that encourages learners to
make choices about class topics and assignments.
Enhancing Meaning
• Norms, procedures and structures that
expand, refine, or increase the complexity
of what is learned in ways that matter to
learners, includes their values and purposes,
and contributes to a critical consciousness.
Enhancing Meaning
• Examine the embedded values in your discipline
that may confuse or disturb students, or may be
challenging to their own cultural perspectives.
– Have students identify their prior knowledge and understandings of
key concepts, issues, or content or how it is understood in their
– Include readings/authors that reflect the diversity of thought and
people within your discipline.
– Encourage students to represent alterative perspectives or construct
panels that can discuss issues from diverse perspectives.
– Use language that reflects the disciplinary way of “knowing” or
understanding”as one way, not the only or “right way.”
– Explicitly address the embedded values in the discipline.
Enhancing Meaning
• Critically examine the examples you use to
illustrate key points to ensure they are meaningful
and sensitive to your students.
– Use analogies or metaphors from everyday life to help
illustrate abstract concepts.
– Have students suggest other examples, analogies or
metaphors, or ones that illustrate other key points.
– Systematically collect examples, metaphors, and
analogies from students to use in the future--and give
– Use graphic organizers, and context-rich visuals or
Engendering Competence
• The norms, procedures and structures that
create an understanding for learners of how
they are or can be effective in learning
something of personal value.
Engendering Competence
• Support student in goal setting for projects.
• Create some learning activities and assessments
that are suited to different multiple intelligences.
• Provide clear and explicit criteria for
• Use multiple forms of assessment that reflect the
modes of teaching and learning you have
Engendering Competence
• Provide models of “high quality” work and
discuss them with students.
• Adopt a “cognitive coaching” stance to teaching;
model and highlight in course readings & discussions
the thinking, ways of making arguments, and use of
academic rhetoric.
• Provide frequent feedback that is based on agreedupon standards, specific and constructive, and
personally informative to student development and
growing competence.
Engendering Competence
• Use the “writing process” format so that students get
on-going feedback from you and form peers as they
develop their work.
• Use self-assessment to engender student
understanding of their attainment and on-going
development toward competence.
• Use reading & anticipation guides to support critical
engagement with text.
• Increase the amount of time that students are talking
about the concepts and ideas--collaborative and
cooperative group work.
Kolb’s Experiential Learning Model
Source: Smith & Kolb, 1986, as printed in Wlodkowski & Ginsberg
Sample Learning Activities
Source: Svinicki & Dixson, 1987, as printed in Wlodkowski & Ginsberg
Degree of Direct Student Involvement in
Various Teaching/Learning Activities
Source: Svinicki & Dixson, 1987, as printed in Wlodkowski & Ginsberg
Developing Culturally Responsive Practice
Proceed carefully and gradually
Learn with others
Create an action plan
Be kind to yourself, but don’t let yourself
“off the hook”
• Be prepared for doubt and anxiety, they are
signs of change and growth
• Share your work with others
Key Ideas and Authors
Multiple Intelligences-Gardner
Learning Styles-Tharp, Shade, Hilliard
Language Development-Cummins, Kinsella
Cultural Diversity in colleges-Adams
Instructional Strategies-Marzano

Culturally Responsive Teaching