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Linking Research and Training in Internationalization of Teacher Education with the PEERS Program: Issues, Case Studies and Perspectives

Edited By Jean-Luc Gilles

The PEERS program proposes international exchanges adapted to the context of teacher training institutions wishing to take advantage of internationalization in order to link training, research, and practice. PEERS is based on the completion of Research and Innovation (R&I) projects during the academic year, during which international groups of professors and students from teacher training partner institutions collaborate remotely as well as during two placements of one week. For the students, the PEERS program aims to develop competencies in distance collaboration with the help of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), the management of intercultural groups, and the continuous improvement of their activities through reflective thinking and the spirit of research. For the professors the PEERS program aims to better link research and training, to reinforce their skills in the management of international research projects and to foster opportunities for international publications.

The aim of this collective book is to give an overview of the Issues, case studies and perspectives of the PEERS program. The first section entitled "Issues, Opportunities, and Challenges for the Internationalization of Teacher Training in a Globalized, Multicultural, and Connected World", focuses on the foundations and general features of PEERS projects, as well as the context of globalization in the intercultural and connected world in which it is situated.

The second section, "Case Studies and Lessons Learned from the PEERS Project in Southern Countries" constitutes a series of chapters presenting case studies on PEERS projects focused on innovation and cooperation in the developing world. The third section, "Results of Research-Oriented PEERS Projects," considers the results from PEERS projects that have enabled the implementation of theoretical and practical educational research, generally taking the form of small-case research studies or innovations in the design of teaching units. Finally, in the conclusion we propose to present the key points of the three sections that make up this book "Linking Research and Training in Internationalization of Teacher Education with the PEERS Program: Issues, Case Studies and Perspectives".

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Chapter 14: Intercultural Competence and Teaching Diverse Learners (Shannon Morago / Sveva Grigioni Baur)

Shannon Morago* and Sveva Grigioni Baur**

shannon.morago@humboldt.edu – sveva.grigioni-baur@hepl.ch

*Humboldt State University, Arcata, California, USA

**University of Teacher Education of State of Vaud, Lausanne, Switzerland

Chapter 14: Intercultural Competence and Teaching Diverse Learners

Abstract

Pre-service science teachers from the USA and Switzerland work in a collaborative inquiry team to explore effective methods for engaging diverse pupils. Participants construct, teach and refine one lesson over the course of six cycles; each cycle involves one participant teaching the lesson in one school serving diverse learners. During lesson instruction, other team members collect pre-determined data on student engagement and comprehension. Research on participants explores how involvement in this project affects intercultural and instructional competencies. Data suggest that individual participants experience a shift in thinking from traditional teacher-centered ideals to a more student-centered approach. Planned group actions (i.e. instructional strategies) mirror this shift as lessons become progressively more student-centered. Post-project participants describe the importance of connecting lessons to students’ lives and culture, a consideration not made prior to the program. A focus on international collaboration and marginalized pupils has provided insight into the development of teaching and intercultural competencies of pre-service science teachers.

1. Project Rationale

Aligned with the purpose of PEERS, to create a global community of culturally competent teachers prepared to confront the challenges of educating in diverse societies, the HEP/HSU PEERS Science Project←247 | 248→ seeks to provide preservice teachers with opportunities to understand effective methods for meeting the needs of diverse learners.

The beliefs that teachers hold may directly affect their practice; including their expectations of students and the way they design learning opportunities (Mansour 2009, Pajares 1992, Hashweh 1996). Teacher beliefs develop through years of observation of teaching, as students themselves, immersed in the context of their microcosm of American or Swiss culture. For example, if they are raised in an area where Native Americans on the local reservation are thought to be drunk, violent, and on the government dole, or if there are views that immigrants do not contribute positively to society. Such beliefs may affect what they believe Native students or immigrants in their classroom can do (Mansour 2009, Shulman 1987, Lortie 1975). Teacher beliefs about their students and school are often developed prior to teacher training and have been shown to be resistant to change or influence. Often an idealism and openness to teaching approaches not observed throughout a lifetime of schooling emerges during university teacher preparation, only to disappear when the complex environment of the first years of teaching are encountered (Zeichner and Tabachnick, 1981). Pre-service teachers in their courses focus on theoretical knowledge, teaching methods, and classroom practice that have been shown to better impact student understanding. But, new practicing teachers either stick with or revert back to what they have seen as students themselves, unable to realign their entrenched beliefs about school and the classroom with the new knowledge that their teacher preparation courses have provided (Mansour 2009).

Teacher-centered instruction in which the teacher is the authority and the students are passive recipients of knowledge is not as effective at providing opportunities to learn beyond memorization as student centered instruction, where students are active seekers of knowledge and the teacher is the facilitator (Anderson 1997, Darling-Hammond 1996). Pre-service teachers may “know” student centered instruction is superior from their teacher preparation programs, but do not implement it or they try and then abandon this type of teaching during their first years of practice (Simmons & al. 1999, Leuhmann 2007, Felix & Saujat 2007).←248 | 249→

In a comprehensive study involving nine teacher training institutions, and following 116 new science and math teachers for their first three years of teaching, Simmons and colleagues suggested two reasons for this state of affairs in teacher education: 1) the adult centered culture of schools is too strong (i.e. lack of support for student centered teaching among administration and faculty, new teachers have little experience or knowledge of this practice to “defend” it, and new teachers do not see it in practice in schools) and 2) the lack of multiple and meaningful opportunities to practice and experience student centered teaching or learning in their teacher training programs. Pre-service teachers may only hear or read about student-centered instruction in their teacher preparation programs, never practicing it nor experiencing it themselves. Leuhmann (2007) also found that pre-service science teachers who have not had meaningful experiences with reform-based teaching (i.e. participation in and practice with inquiry learning and teaching which is student-centered, rather than gaining understanding from a textbook or lecture) are “likely to lack buy-in” and confidence in their abilities to enact this type of teaching, reducing the probability that they will be used. The “interlacing” between the techniques of management and the pedagogic necessities are one of the main characteristics of a teacher’s job, and negotiating these are often difficult, resulting in some loss of fidelity (Felix & Saujat 2008).

Understanding these realities, we created a PEERS project for pre-service teachers to develop a strong understanding of student centered teaching and its effects on youth. Additionally we wanted to provide opportunities for pre-service teachers to confront their ideas and beliefs about diverse students and explore how to better address their needs, specifically. The following ideas guided the creation of the HEP/HSU Science Project for pre-service teachers: 1) beliefs about teaching are entrenched in pre-service teachers and develop from their own prior schooling experiences (Zeichner & al. 1987, Lortie 1975); 2) people can change their ideas from contrary experiences, or when confronted in a salient manner, with contrary evidence regarding their existing beliefs (Nespor 1987, Pajares 1992, Marx and Moss 2001); 3) collaborative inquiry into teaching provides an opportunity to gather and reflect on←249 | 250→ data about student understanding and may assist pre-service teachers’ examination and alteration of their existing beliefs (Fendandez 2010, Ricks 2011); 4) asking an international collaborative inquiry group of pre-service teachers to focus on creating a lesson to meet the needs of diverse and marginalized learners may encourage the group to confront their ideas, perceptions, and beliefs about diverse learners and teaching (particularly teacher-centered instruction) in general (Fernandez 2010, Bryan and Atwater 2002); and 5) providing multiple opportunities for the group of student teachers to teach in diverse and culturally unfamiliar settings may assist pre-service teachers in developing new lenses through which they can confront their ideas and perceptions about “others” (Marx and Moss 2001, Bryan and Atwater 2002), particularly when they plan, teach and reflect in an international group.

Furthermore, knowing that beliefs about teaching are central to the practice of teaching, yet are entrenched in a foundation of “doing school” in a teacher centered manner, we wanted, as teacher educators, to affect change in these beliefs to an approach that may be better for youth who are students in the diverse secondary schools of the United States and Switzerland.

The HEP/HSU Science Project involves an international collaboration between pre-service teachers using an inquiry approach (i.e. reflective, collaborative, and investigative) based on the Lesson Study model. Lesson Study is a professional development model used widely in Japan that provides an opportunity for collaborative and individual reflection about the practice of teaching through the collaborative study of one lesson. Lesson Study participants are active in planning a lesson, collecting and analyzing data from the lesson observations, and refining the lesson based on group reflection. Multiple perspectives are likely to be present when this is internationalized, creating rich opportunities for reflection.←250 | 251→

2. Project Description and Participants

Three science undergraduates interested in teaching from HSU and three science student teachers from HEP are grouped and given the task to create one lesson on a particular topic: invasive species, genetics or climate change. Guidelines are established that the lesson must especially engage marginalized learners (i.e. those traditionally ostracized by the school system such as Native American students in the U.S. or political refugees from Africa or Kosovo or general immigrants in Switzerland). Furthermore, the inquiry team of pre-service teachers must collect data from high school pupils about their understanding of the topic focusing the lesson and their engagement in the lesson.

Using these guidelines, the team collaboratively plans a lesson, including evidence that will be collected during the lesson, to determine student understanding and engagement. One member then teaches the lesson, while the others collect data about student understanding and engagement. After the lesson, the group members analyze the data together and use it to refine the lesson to further meet the goals of increasing student understanding of the topic and providing opportunities to increase the participation and interest of all students, especially marginalized learners.

Each member of the team then teaches the lesson once. The lesson is taught six times to six different classes in approximately four different schools. Three of the lessons are taught in the U.S. and three in Switzerland. The Swiss pre-service teachers travel to the U.S. to observe lessons in the fall and the U.S. pre-service teachers travel to Switzerland in the spring. Care is taken to choose schools in both countries where traditionally marginalized pupils attend. Varied classrooms were utilized: one where the students are all non-native speakers of the respective language (i.e. French), another in which a high percentage of students are classified as learning disabled, a third where a high percentage of students live in communities that have experienced cultural trauma (i.e. Native Americans), and also one with a high percentage of students who are immigrants.←251 | 252→

Table 1: Project Timeline.

Time

Description

Planning Meeting

Summer

Supervisors meet face-to-face and plan program domain of exploration and learning tasks

Pre-service Student Selection

Late Summer/Early Fall

Select students using interviews

Pre-service Student Contact (Online)

Early Fall

Using Skype, google.chat, email and Facebook to plan lesson

HEP to HSU

Late Fall/Early Winter

Observe in U.S. schools, plan and teach and refine lesson

Pre-service Student Contact (Online)

Winter

Using Skype, google.chat, email and Facebook to refine lesson

HSU to HEP

Spring

Observe in Swiss schools, plan and teach and refine lesson

Pre-service Student Contact (Online)

Late Spring

Using Skype, google.chat, email and Facebook to write student report

3. Faculty Research Question

Faculty research centers on the question: How does participation in the PEERS Project impact intercultural and instructional competencies, especially related to meeting the needs of diverse learners? Given the mission of the overall PEERS program to build a global community of culturally competent teachers, understanding how the project impacts the thinking of pre-service teachers in relation to these outcomes seemed pertinent. At the time of this writing, three PEERS groups had completed the HEP/HSU Science project. These groups were labeled A, B and C and group A was the first group to participate.←252 | 253→ Several data sets have been used to measure intercultural and instructional competencies. These include individual interviews, the Draw-a-Science-Teacher-Test (DASTT), completion of a Teaching Scenario, and faculty observation of collaborative meetings, lesson implementation and group presentations.

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Figure 1: HEP/HSU Science Project Participant Organization.

4. Methods

Multiple data sets are used to measure and observe the instructional and intercultural competency of the participants. As participants plan, collaborate and discuss their lesson we observe their meetings, taking field notes of key conversations and decisions. Several documents are requested from the group including lesson plans and instructional materials. Each lesson taught in U.S. or Swiss schools is observed and←253 | 254→ recorded through field notes by at least one faculty advisor, if not both. Additionally participants give a final presentation summarizing their learning to a Swiss university level science instructional methods class. Field notes are taken during the presentation and for Groups B and C this presentation was recorded.

Each participant is interviewed three times. Interview questions center on group process, ideas about the meanings and impacts of intercultural competency and perspectives and beliefs related to instructional methods for diverse learners. Interviews occur pre-program, mid-program after the Swiss to U.S. exchange but prior to the U.S. to Switzerland exchange and post-program, upon completion of all activities.

Two additional methods are used to monitor ideas about teacher-centered versus student-centered beliefs. In the first, participants are asked to read a scenario about lesson planning. Participants are asked to answer a question in writing about how they would approach the situation. This assessment occurred in Group C only, at pre-program and post-program times. Second, a method developed and utilized in several studies to investigate pre-service teacher beliefs of teacher vs. student centeredness is used (Thomas & al. 2001, Markic and Eilks, 2010). Participants are asked to “Draw a typical day of teaching in your future.” To control for varied artistic flair and/or abstract representations, participants are also asked to write a short description of what the students are doing and what the teacher is doing. HEP/HSU Science Groups B and C completed these drawings prior to program participation and upon program completion.←254 | 255→

Table 2: Data Sets and Alignment to PEERS Group.

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5. Results

Data trends across each data set indicate increased intercultural and instructional competencies. Interview data revealed thoughts about how to meet the needs of diverse learners.

Participants in Group A described this in the following manner:

The ways that students learn are affected by their culture. We need to find ways to make lessons relevant to the students life and cultural experiences.

Different sets of students need different methods.

We need to assess and incorporate the prior knowledge and life of students.

Group B also expressed specific ideas related to how to meet the needs of diverse learners:

If you want to teach something you must do it in a way that students connect to it […] who they are needs to be considered.←255 | 256→

The teacher needs not to be at the center of the lesson. I need to step back and let the students learn independently.

Let the students make mistakes, from them they learn better. They need to figure it our for themselves.

Group C’s learning seemed to focus on relevance and emotional safety, in regards to diverse learners. One participant summarized this in a particularly salient manner during the final presentation:

I think one of the main things that I learned was how necessary it was to have a relationship with your students and make your classroom a safe space, especially for marginalized learners who may not feel safe or accepted in society as a whole. A lot of times in classrooms that dynamic can sort of be mirrored so a marginalized learner may come into that classroom and may still not feel accepted. They may not feel like they belong there or that they can’t relate to their teacher or that their teacher cannot understand them and doesn’t know what they need. For me being able to talk to your students and communicate with them and find what this individual needs to be able to succeed was really important. I noticed that when we began this project that we had this idea about teaching, as if it was about us deciding what they needed to learn what we wanted to tell them and what we wanted to get from it, but by the end of it I started to think maybe it’s more important to let them decide how this is useful to them. And to empower them and let them shape the direction of their learning. I don’t know that we did a good job of that in this project, but I think we were starting to understand that more.

The participants in each group also discussed their intercultural competence, both related to diverse learners in their classrooms and their experiences with their international teaching peers.

Participants from Group A noted the following in regards to language learners in schools:

When I observed the lessons in French I realized I don’t get any of it and this would be horrible! It made me think of English learners in classrooms. This is very crucial; you must go out of your way to understand if the students are taking in the information.

Group A participants also reported initially being unsure how to “start conversations” with the participants from the exchange, with one participant noting that “Communication initially was a struggle for me. I←256 | 257→ was afraid of offending the others. Then I realized we all have the same goal. This same participant later reported that the program “changed my mind about being scared of working with different people. I realized they were just like me.

Group B noted learning from each other:

The (other PEERS) students were more concerned about cultural issues in the classroom. This was constructive for me because they saw certain things I could not see about my students and now I see them.

Participants in Group B also related intercultural competence to their teaching:

I need to make sure the material can be connected to students and their culture, so I will have to understand what those cultures are and make sure they can come in and be engaged with the material.

Participants in Group C were specifically focused on making content relevant to student’s lives and culture:

We need to make the scientific content related to the reality of the pupils like a game of life.

The DASTT provided insight into the images of teaching the participants held pre and post project. In general, the lower the score on a scale of 1–13 the more student-centered the drawing was considered. The average pre-program score (n=9) was 8.7 and the average post-program score was 2.8 (n=12) (see Figure 3). Figure 2 illustrates typical changes seen over time in one participant’s images (Group B). The pre-program drawing is also typical of those seen across groups: the teacher being the active part of the image and at the front of the room while the students are seated and listening. The pre-program drawing (Figure 2) scored 10 and showed the teacher standing in front of the class reading from a book. Students were seated in desks in a rounded row, listening, with several students raising their hands.←257 | 258→

image

Figure 2: Pre-PEERS Drawing (Score 10) and Post-PEERS Drawing (Score 3).

This drawing would be classified as teacher-centered using the scoring rubric developed by Thomas and colleagues (2001). The post-program drawing scored a 3 on the Thomas & al. rubric and showed the teacher standing to the side of the room and seated students (grouped at tables) listening to a student explaining a concept at the front of the class.

image

Figure 3: Pre and Post PEERS Average Scores.

*Pre-service science teacher average scores (n=200) from Markic and Eilks 2010.←258 | 259→

Lesson observations showed that the first lessons of all of the groups were focused on the teacher talking and providing information through a Powerpoint, the students spending a large percentage of the instructional time listening and the opportunities to learn and be assessed being focused mostly on student writing answers to questions. The first lessons often attempted to cover a tremendous amount of factual information.

The final lessons were diverse. In Group A the final lesson was a short Powerpoint interspersed with opportunities for students to discuss their preconceptions and develop their definition of an invasive species in cultural relevant ways. The final learning opportunity and assessment asked students in groups of 2–3 to create an invasive species (i.e. drawing) and define it’s characteristics in writing.

Group B’s final lesson involved embedded questions in a Powerpoint that required students to converse with their partner then write their own answer and finally discuss as a class. Students then completed a puzzle activity and created a labeled diagram to demonstrate their understanding.

Group C’s final lesson involved the students solving a mystery using clues using a game format. Pupils were grouped in sets of 2–3 and were given different clues to a related mystery (i.e. climate change), becoming experts on their particular scenario. The teacher gave a short introduction to the lesson and then moved from group to group asking questions. At the end of the lesson each “expert” group of pupils held a “conference” and reported their findings as a class.

Across the groups, lesson progressions showed reduced teacher talk and more student interaction. Additionally, student interaction became more diverse, moving from 1–2 students asking and answering questions to all students answering questions or participating in the lesson in multiple modalities (i.e. speaking, writing, kinesthetic, critical thinking etc.). Figure 4 summarizes these changes for Group B.

A Teaching Scenario was proposed to the participants of Group C pre, mid and post program. Participants were asked to note the questions they would ask themselves prior to lesson planning and to briefly outline the learning tasks they would plan. Prior to PEERS participant the questions the participants asked themselves focused on how much time they had←259 | 260→ to teach, what background knowledge the students had and what could be done by the instructor experimentally to pique interest. Post program participation the questions centered around what the students would want to know about the topic, how the topic could be made relevant to student lives, “what obstacles to learning” there might be, how the students could apply the content and what the students already knew about the topic that could be connected to the lesson.

image

Figure 4: Faculty observation results of PEERS Group B Lesson Progression Over Time with corresponding data on pupil response.

Pre-program lesson outlines all included a lecture (“the teacher would give a lecture for half a class period”). There were some ideas about utilizing an activity or a demonstration (“prepare a short experiment – 2–5 minutes – with a chemical reaction with an ezyme to the same reaction without the enzyme”) but the amount of time they were planned, in general, was shorter than the amount of time planned for lecture. Post-program responses focused on the students being active. For example one participant noted he would “Hand off the work to the students, let them accomplish something”. Another noted she would plan “applied student projects” followed by a “presentation extravaganza/festival of learning”.←260 | 261→

6. Conclusion

The objective of the PEERS Science Project is to prepare preservice teachers to better meet the needs of diverse learners. We believe the best methods to make science content accessible to all learners is to provide opportunities to learn which are explicitly relevant to student’s lives and culture and that allow students to construct their own understanding; making meaning of science content in context (Zeichner 1993, Ladson-Billings 1993).

In relation to teaching competency, Pre-PEERS trends across Groups A, B and C suggested that the participants held beliefs about teaching in which the teacher is at the center of instruction and “presents” the content to the class. The students’ role is to listen and accept the material. Pre-program interviews, DASTT-C drawings, the Teaching Scenario and lesson observations all provided evidence that the participants, in general, understood and believed that teaching was something that was done to students. During the program we witnessed all three groups (A, B and C) struggling with this conception. Their early lessons indicated, through the data they collected and our observations confirmed this, there was little learning occuring among the public school students who were also not uniformily engaged. When the PEERS participants would plan and try another method, such as inserting a discussion in which all students were expected to contribute rather than a lecture (PEERS Group B), they experienced overall increased pupil engagement and content understanding. When they focused the lesson on culture or place (e.g. PEERS Group A decided to use local and culturally important examples of invasive species that students knew) they found that there was more widespread participation. The group also found that when they gave the students freedom to express their own ideas that they themselves learned about their students in important ways (e.g. Native American students clearly demonstrated that they saw invasive species as negative and often gave them human-like characteristics while the immigrants to Switzerland made connections that invasive species could have positive effects and connected this to their immigrant experience).←261 | 262→ The realization, that pupils work could reflect their cultural experiences, was a powerful one for PEERS Group A. Discovering that students bring their culture and experience to their work at school, and that providing an opportunity for the pupils to express this increased learning and engagement, was important to Group A. All members of this group indicated thereafter that learning must be connected to culture and place noting that the “ways that students learn are affected by their culture and that they “must find ways to make it relevant to their life and cultural experiences”. These key learnings and experiences indicated not only a clearer understanding of the importance of student centered experiences, but an increased understanding of how to meet the needs of diverse learners through incorporating opportunties for pupils to connect with the content in culturally relevant ways.

Each PEERS group (A, B and C) planned lessons that progressed over time from teacher centered lectures to more student centered approaches, indicating that participants were coming to understand that placing the students at the center of instruction increased learning and engagement. This conclusion was also supported in data from the DASTT-C, which showed scores descreasing over time. Most pre-program drawings showed a classroom set-up with the teacher at the center of the drawing. Some final drawings showed dramatic differences. Two participants moved the classroom environment to outside of the school, on the beach or in the forest. They indicated in their explanation that students needed to apply their learning in a real context and that the teacher was there to facilitate, not direct. This implied that not only were participants seeing themselves more as a facilitator, but also that learning should be applied in context.

Drawings also provided evidence that Group A, B and C particpants had begun to imagine that students’ family, culture and ethnicity should be included in their vision of teaching. For example, one participant’s final drawing included “foundations” of teaching at the bottom of the drawing. She envisioned these foundations as students’ “interests, home, family, values, ideas, morals, (and) experiences”. Her first drawing did not depict student interests, rather it portrayed the knowledge to be learned as being directed by the teacher.←262 | 263→

Not all data showed that participants moved completely into the realm of student-centered ideals. Although all drawings over time decreased in score, indicating a shift in beliefs about who is the director of knowledge in the classroom, some did so more dramatically than others. This individual movement, or lack of it, was also found in other data trends such as interviews and lesson observations. Some participants seemed to hold more surface level beliefs about putting students at the center of instruction or how to maintain relationships with diverse students. For instance, some interview data suggested that the participant felt that student-centered teaching was important, but their drawing still indicated that the teacher was the director of knowledge and learning. Additionally, some participants heard and participated in group understandings, but individually struggled to internalize them. It seemed for some of the participants that they were wavering in their ideas, depending on the data source. One participant heard the others discussing the importance of student-teacher relationships and creating a comfortable environment for all students, especially margninalized learners, yet he seemed uncomfortable expressing this view himself. Additionally, he struggled to conceptualize what that might look like and, after teaching his lesson, admitted that perhaps his discomfort affected the student outcomes. While this may be an important learning in itself it provides insight into the internal struggle that new teachers often feel between what they know works (in this case connecting with students) and what they are currently capable of. Over time participants in the PEERS project demonstrated different levels of growth in terms of intercultural competency and teaching competencies.

In relation to cultural competency between US and Swiss counterparts, the idea of “others” seemed to shift, particularly among the US participants. US students reported that early in the collaboration they were afraid to “offend” Swiss group members. Talk within the groups was sometimes tentative or guarded, with missteps in communication that needed faculty mediation. Some US participants expressed exasperation as they struggled to understand the direct communication style of their Swiss counterparts. Swiss participants reported frustration and surprise at the effort group communication required. However, over←263 | 264→ time as the groups collaborated on a common goal and continuously reflected, participants became more at ease with each other. One US participant noted that the project “changed my mind about being scared of working with different people. I realized they were just like me. All groups were able to work through their differences and reported the desire for continued collaboration with their international counterparts. Some participants noted that the different perspectives on addressing the challenges of teaching were important and also necessary for meaningful solutions.

Overall the PEERS Science Project collaboration between the University of Teacher Education of State of Vaud and Humboldt State University was effective at providing opportunities for pre-service teachers to learn effective methods for instructing diverse learners and interacting with diverse people. Data repeatedly showed that participants were increasingly more student-centered in their beliefs and in their actions (Table 3), working to allow pupils to make meaning of content in ways that made sense to them (i.e. culturally relevant or applied in context or both). Additionally, participants seemed to shift, albeit at different levels, their understanding of teaching and interacting with diverse people, both pupils and peers. Data suggested (Table 3) that participants were more understanding of what it was like to be a language learner, why cultural connections in curriculum was important and that strong relationships and safe classrooms were key to providing opportunities to learn for diverse people. Their lesson progressions also showed their attempts to put these beliefs into action. All participants recognized that the PEERS project was important part of their professional and personal journey. As one early PEERS Science participant simply noted in her final interview “PEERS changed my life.”←264 | 265→

Table 3: Post-Program Data Trends Over Three-Years.

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←265 | 266→

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