Electronic Magazine of Multicultural Education

FALL 2000     http://www.eastern.edu/publications/emme    Vol. 2, No. 2

Theme: Cross-Cultural Partnership

| This Issue | Articles | Instructional Ideas | Open Forum | Reviews | Contributors |
| Caruso | Cozza and Mbugua | Hallen | Hansell | Kennett | Lukiv |


Transforming the Cultures of the Family, School, and University Through Collaboration 

Barbara Cozza and Tata Mbugua
University of Scranton

Abstract: This project identifies a school community involved in a collaborative partnership through a triad of focus: family-school-university partnership.

...the National Social Studies Standards...
...Model Competencies from Peers, Faculty, and Experienced Teachers
Pre-Service Teachers Learn with Real Children
Expectations Integrate High Standards...
...Professional Growth for Experienced Teachers
Parent Involvement...
...Reflect on Practice...
Editor's Note

    This project identifies a school community involved in a collaborative partnership through a Triad of Focus:  Family-School-University Partnership. Our ongoing research philosophy has been to encourage educational systems to thrive by bridging different sectors in order to create and maintain healthy working partnerships. According to John Dewey (1954), a community presents an order of energies transmuted into one of meanings which are appreciated and mutually referred by each to every other on the part of those engaged in combined action... (pp. 153-154). Considering Dewey’s philosophy, the goals of this Family-School-University Partnership are twofold: to increase opportunities for families to be more involved in their children’s learning at school; and for university faculty, pre-service teachers, and experienced elementary teachers to use family- school-university partnerships to induct pre-service teacher interns into professional practice, strengthen elementary school curriculum, and raise multicultural and global awareness for children. [paragraph 1]

    A recurring theme in the educational literature is the perception that there is disparity between what faculty in higher education view as the goals and preferred methods for teaching social studies with a multicultural/ global awareness focus and those valued by practicing elementary teachers. Preparing pre-service university students to teach in the 21st century classrooms that are becoming more culturally diverse requires educators to create a paradigm that encourages a collaborative effort to align teaching and learning experiences that lead to an understanding of knowledge, skills and attitudes inherent in understanding diverse cultures. In order to maintain support and continuity between these two educational systems and partnerships, this paper presents a discussion of a new framework for thought. This framework addresses the critical attributes of an effective teacher preparation program that integrates a field-based component for preparing pre-service teachers. The program connects multicultural issues and global awareness in the social studies elementary classrooms using learning centers. Goodlad (1993) states that university-school district relationships offer positive outcomes for presenting common agendas of exemplary practice, preparing pre-service teachers, and conducting current educational methodology. Consequently, it is essential to establish field sites in which university students can experience the benefit of guidance from faculty, support from practicing teachers and interaction with parents and children. [paragraph 2]

    Model schools considering collaborative partnerships explore their student populations based on the socio-economic status and cultural backgrounds. This approach is necessary because student populations in any school affect the implementation of this model. Families’ cultural backgrounds should be emphasized in the course of study to allow children to understand and appreciate the differences of their classmates. [paragraph 3]

    Based on state and local requirements and what teachers teach, the prevailing pattern of the social studies framework is based on the widening horizons/expanding curriculum topics: grade 1 - families, grade 2- neighborhoods, grade 3 - communities, grade 4-state history/regions, and grade 5 - U.S. history. The most notable recent changes since 1916 include the broadening of European history to world history and more emphasis on Africa, Asia and other non-western areas. Preparing children for living in a more pluralistic, intertwined international system requires new competencies and skills that are interdisciplinary and not culture and time bound. This partnership framework is predicated upon the concepts of multicultural understanding and global awareness. A major challenge has been to align the teacher education curriculum with the National Council for the Social Studies (1994) in order to respond to school districts’ curricula needs. As educators, how do we meet the social studies standards? No single strategy can be implemented to guarantee success in understanding standards. However, in educational settings, ideal learning conditions and excellent instruction are equally important and need equal attention. The main focus of this model program is on the pre-service teachers. The following components define the framework for the family, school, and university partnership. [paragraph 4]

Preparing Pre-service Teachers to Implement the National 
Social Studies Standards
in the Elementary Curriculum

    This collaborative framework emphasizes important elements for integrating Standards. The social studies content understandings—history, economies, political systems, geography and social ideals—are integrated with the ten themes from the social studies standards: culture; time, continuity, and change; people, places, and environments; individual, groups, and institutions; power, authority, and governance; production, distribution, and consumption; science, technology and society; global connections; civic ideals and practice (National Council for the Social Studies, 1994). An example of the theme of culture is explored when pre-service teachers identify their own cultural roots, role-play and empathize with the perspectives of different cultural groups. Pre-service teachers respect and study instructional materials that reflect all cultural groups during social studies methods classes. Through methods course content, pre-service teachers not only have a good understanding of social studies curriculum that outlines the standard content strands for each grade, but they also understand how to plan and integrate an interdisciplinary approach that includes global communities in Africa, Asia, Central and South America. [paragraph 5]

    An example of this is when pre-service teachers study families living in Africa with first and second graders. A display board is created that is titled "Living in Kenya" followed by brainstorming ideas of the culture, designing questions for study and developing the rationale for the topic. The program includes experiences that provide for the study of culture and cultural diversity so that the children can explore and describe similarities and differences in the ways cultures address similar human needs and wants as their own. Children view artifacts from Kenya that represent the cultural diversity of the country such as sisal bags, wood carvings, cloth batiks, and traditional toys. A variety of books written in both local languages and English provide an added dimension of translated literature to the learning center. Children play a game of "Nyama, Nyama, Nyama," which is a game used with young children aimed at identifying the different animals in the country that are edible and non-edible. They draw and paint a mural of the things they would do if they were living as a family in Kenya. First and second graders even discover the dress code based on the different weather patterns in the country, semi-arid versus tropical areas around the equator, and the eating patterns of the people. When integrating the Standards in this teaching laboratory model, pre-service teachers have opportunities to implement a variety of instructional strategies, materials, and equipment in working with an exploring diverse cultures. Most importantly, as a result of this new curriculum, children, parents and teachers have a clear understanding and appreciation of multicultural issues and global education. [paragraph 6]

Pre-Service Teachers are Able to Model 
from Peers, Faculty, and Experienced Teachers

    The project begins in the social studies method course. Each pre-service teacher enrolled in this course is required to study a specific culture from ~ global community from Africa, Asia, Central and South America. Developing awareness and an appreciation of the multicultural dimensions of contemporary global societies is a theme that is woven throughout this course. In order to provide pre-service teachers with a deeper knowledge of a variety of cultures, a jigsaw approach is utilized. The jigsaw cooperative learning approach is a valuable strategy to  teach social and historical issues and develop an understanding of citizenship (Vansickle, 1994). [paragraph 7]

    Pre-service teachers work together in expert groups based on a specific culture. Members of the expert group study their part of the global column intensively. Each group is expected to study this culture and apply assigned information, concepts, and skills to all course assignment lesson plans and learning center tasks. Each team is expected to share expertise with other expert groups in the course and in field-based learning situations. As an ongoing assignment, pre-service teacher teams are expected to complete a series of tasks, share knowledge with peers, and use their knowledge and skills to present mini lessons and learning center tasks in elementary) classrooms. [paragraph 8]

    University faculty model content understandings of social studies and observe how pre-service teachers apply and implement ideas. Classroom teachers volunteer to help pre-service teachers perform teaching tasks in the classrooms. Classroom teachers have the opportunity to share their expertise with pre-service students and, at the same time, focus on the joy of collaborating and learning new ideas on how to determine the tremendous historical, racial, and cultural differences that should be acknowledged between countries (Banks and Banks, 1997). For example, Central and South American countries are distinctly different from one another, even though they may share the same language. The important outcome of shared teaching and learning experiences is that these educational systems bridge different sectors in order to create and maintain healthy working partnerships on current educational issues. [paragraph 9]

Pre-service Teachers Learn with Real Children

    Pre-service teachers understand the complexities of teaching and learning with real children. Many children come to school happy and curious about learning; the parents are supportive although sometimes vigilant and sometimes critical; and teachers of these children are presumed competent because the children do well in school tasks. However, many learners come to school challenged by their home environments and, as a result, bring problems to school that make appropriate behavior and an interest for learning difficult. Parents seldom acknowledge the teachers of these children or other teachers, and they tend to feel a sense of failure even when they work hard with their students. [paragraph 10]

    The pre-service teachers become involved with all children when presenting learning center tasks. Convening over a four-week period, pre-service teachers present learning center tasks to children that allow learners to explore and discover multicultural elements about a variety of global communities. A learning center is designed to provide specific opportunities for learning by the diverse children using them. The social studies cultural diversity theme provides the framework for planning. It is important, however, to remember that these objectives reflect only a small part of the learning that occurs in the center. Additional learning opportunities happen spontaneously when the children select and control the direction of the tasks. Centers provide time for children to construct their own learning and grow in their understanding of the multicultural curriculum. According to Tiedt and Tiedt (1995), if our multicultural curriculum is effectively taught through centers, children are able to:

bulletidentify needs and concerns universal to people of all cultures (e.g., love, family, and health) and compare interesting cultural variations (e.g., food preparation, naming practices, dances or games);
bulletparticipate in community and school affairs as informed, empathetic young citizens who know and care about other people and recognize the enriching effect of having many cultures represented in our population; and
bulletLearn to value the opinions of others and to acknowledge human rights. [paragraph 11]

    As a result of this experience, the pre-service teachers gain a better understanding of the diversity existing in the real world of teaching and the global community. They experience and observe the effects of more than one teaching approach and learn how to integrate selected valuable activities. Consequently, they are better prepared for their first year of teaching because they have the opportunity to practice in an informed decision-making process with real children. [paragraph 12]

Expectations Integrate High Standards for Pre-service
to Plan and Implement Learning Center Programs as Professionals

    The need for models for guiding inquiry into teaching and teacher education has been well documented (Savage and Armstrong, 1996; Cruickshank, 1990). According to Cruickshank (1990), knowledge production has not been the hallmark of the field of education. In cognizance of this statement, the quality of the preparation of pre-service teachers becomes a priority in this model, in terms of equipping the pre-service teachers with the knowledge, skills and dispositions that would make them effective teachers in the 2lst  century. The following elements are norms and practices that induct pre-service teachers into professional practice (National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, 1997):

bulletPre-service teachers work with children from culturally diverse families and have individual needs.
bulletPre-service teachers work with more than one classroom teacher and they have opportunities to observe and discuss professional issues with many.
bulletPre-service teachers are professional teams and participate in all professional decisions.
bulletPre-service teachers learn to work with parents in support of student learning. [paragraph 13]

    The knowledge base pre-service teachers acquire and how this knowledge informs practices become the focus of the model. In effect, faculty set expectations that integrate high standards for pre-service teachers to plan and implement learning center programs as professionals with a sound knowledge base. In social studies methods classes, pre-service teachers spend the first few weeks of the semester carrying out in-depth research on the specific country they would be working on. This research takes a variety of forms: using textbooks as a resource, Internet activities, review of journals articles, and primary research that entails interviewing people from that country. Through learning center activities and presentations in small groups, pre-service teachers have the opportunity to share their knowledge as "experts" with their peers while engaging in ongoing dialogue and conversations to help deepen their understanding of their specific country. [paragraph 14]

    In the field-based classroom environment, the aim of utilizing learning centers in this model is to organize integrated multicultural/global studies that cross the curriculum. Learning centers ideally enable pre-service teachers to individualize instruction by permitting children to move and work at their own pace. In addition, learning centers allow for small group work as well as accommodating a wide array of abilities and interests for all children. [paragraph 15]

    Therefore, this component of the model program enhances the pre-service teachers’ ability to plan and organize instruction through experiential learning both hands-on and minds-on. Through these activities, pre-service teachers engage in a sound educational  experience based on the premise of continuity and interaction between the learner and what is learned. [paragraph 16]


The Framework of the Collaboration Creates New Roles and
Opportunities for Professional Growth for
Experienced Teachers

    Teachers, in general, and experienced teachers, in particular, have had to contend with the dynamic changes in our society. These changes have translated into multiple roles for teachers.  According to NCATE Professional Development Draft Standards (1997) the following elements classroom teacher’s role in this collaboration:


Teachers share expertise with pre-service teachers in the interest of children’s cultural diverse learning needs.


Teachers work with more than one pre-service teacher and they have opportunities to observe and discuss professional issues with many pre-service interns.


Teachers and University Faculty meet to discuss learning tasks and instructional issues of pre-service teachers. [paragraph 17]

    Through the triad of focus for the collaboration model, experienced teachers gain insightful and important perspectives to a program of mutual interest to all  those involved. Experienced teachers also enter into a  mentoring relationship that is specifically focused on the development and implementation of the learning centers within the elementary school classrooms.  Teachers need to be aware of their own cultural backgrounds and biases. Open dialogue with children will acknowledge these cultural influences as common to us all. Faculty, teachers, pre-service students, children and parents learn together about different ideas and ways of thinking. [paragraph 18]

Parent Involvement Becomes a Strong Element in the School Environment 
with an  Extension of Ideas to the Home Environment
and Multiculturalism and Global Education

    Parent involvement in the education of children has been researched and documented in various studies (Gestwicki, 2000; Garguillo, Graves, and Sluder, 1997). This follows the recognition that children are integrally connected to their families which have a significant influence on their development. The importance of such involvement is underscored in this model based on the fact that as the world becomes an increasingly diverse global village, it is imperative for teachers to understand the family contexts within which children live and equally recognize, appreciate, and prepare to work with such diversity. [paragraph 19]

    This involvement impacts on the quality education that is offered to children in the 2lst century and particularly how instruction is delivered in order  to link both the home and school environments. The more the relationship between families and school approaches a comprehensive, well-planned partnership the higher the student achievement (Berla and Henderson, 1994). This model allows for activities and instruction that integrate multicultural and global education concepts within the major social studies strands as they are explored through the learning centers. [paragraph 20]

    Parent involvement may take a variety of forms: parents as volunteers, resource persons, decision-makers, facilitators, teachers and nurturers.  Parents become involved during the planning and in implementation of the learning centers. They meet with pre-service students during their volunteer class time.  They integrate resource information for suggested learning center tasks based on their own cultures.  For example, parents may suggest special recipes during the study of Mexico, they may provide costumes from China, and they may integrate cultural artifacts from Chile. During learning center implementation in the classrooms, parents become partners with children to facilitate tasks and provide information pertaining to the cultural relevance of the resources provided. In the Kenya Learning Center, parents-as-teachers model the use of musical instruments for aesthetic purposes. The performance of  children in school  tends to improve when  school and university faculty engage parents in their children's  learning process. [paragraph 21]

Pre-service Teacher Interns Reflect on Practice
Using Journals,
Cyberjournals, Observation Checklists, and Case Studies

    An important component in this framework is how pre-service teachers reflect on their professional learning process and assess how children learn the social studies concepts, content and process skills based on different multicultural themes. Three assessment tools are integrated into this model. The cyberjournal is used for pre-service teachers to have ongoing dialogue and reflection during the professional practice. The pre-service teacher uses the observation checklist and a case study format to assess the children’s learning during the learning center tasks. [paragraph 22]

    Journal Reflection and the Cyberjournal: Journal writing has been advocated by faculty for a variety of reasons: to help pre-service teachers reflect on what they have learned, to monitor and review content and concepts they learned, and to give pre-service teachers a relaxed and non-threatening medium to express their thoughts. One of the requirements for pre-service teachers is to write a weekly cyberjournal, an on-line journal entry, for reflecting about the project. The faculty advisors look at these cyberjournals and comment about the expected goals of the project and how the pre-service teachers target these goals. The cyberjournal is also a tool for documenting pre-service teachers’ feelings about diversity issues and about collaboration during the project. Over time many changes occur. Looking back over the information, one realizes that there is a rise and then a fall in the groups’ attitudes and enthusiasm. The cyberjournal’s primary focus is that it encourages collaborative writing. Issues that are raised in the cyberjournals can be easily raised in the social studies methods university class. [paragraph 23]

    According to Rankin (1997), to create a cyberjournal, a separate e-mail account or a bulletin board can be opened through the campus technology center. (Separate pre-service teacher and faculty e-mail accounts work also.) Regardless of the journal type, writing about the social studies content and concepts and sharing ideas and information with the faculty and class enhance student understanding of the multicultural and global issues (Britton, 1991; Newell and Winograd, 1989). [paragraph 24]

    Observation Checklists: Observation checklists are teacher-made tools. Over time, observations are completed by the pre-service teachers, resulting in a comprehensive and detailed understanding of teaching and learning. The informal nature of these observations offers a continuum that measures behaviors that are not easily assessed through written test options. The guidelines for these observation checklists include, but are not limited to identification and description of desired children’s behavior, development of a simple procedure for checking each action as it occurs, and an arrangement of desired behaviors in the approximate order one might expect to see them. [paragraph 25]

    The learning climate of the learning center environment reflects the warmth, concerns, and expectations conveyed to children by the pre-service teachers; the organization of the physical aspects of the learning center promotes or precludes interaction among the children; and the cooperation and independence encouraged by the structure of the activities promote learning. [paragraph 26]

    Case Studies: Teaching the case study is an important pedagogical tool in bridging theory and practice. A case study is defined as a short written summary of the learning process of a child. From the pre-service teachers’ point of view, a case study offers the opportunity to construct their own understanding of how an individual child works at his/her own level, has choice in the curriculum, and above all, becomes an active participant in his/her own learning. Pre-service teachers select one child to observe during the learning center activities. During the observation of a child, pre-service teachers collect sample work of the learner and make anecdotal notes. From this collected data, pre-service teachers analyze this information and conclude how each child demonstrates what he/she knows and what he/she is able to do in appropriately diverse ways to meet national curricular standards. These opportunities enhance the process of professional growth that is centered on reflection and constructivist views. Schon (1987) aptly defines one who engages in this approach as "A professional practitioner who encounters certain types of situations again and again...experiences many variations of a small number of types of cases. He develops a repertoire of expectations, images and techniques learns what to look for and how to respond to what he finds" (p. 60). The selection of case studies includes all grade levels in order for pre-service teachers to gain a deeper understanding about teaching issues across developmental levels of all children participating in this collaborative project. [paragraph 27]

    Transforming the cultures of the family, school and university through collaborative efforts is an important school reform agenda, but not an easy task. More importantly, how do educators encourage an understanding and an appreciation of cultural diversity that exists in our classrooms and global community? This collaborative framework is an attempt to create a forum for educators to share ideas and learn about multicultural issues and global awareness in an educational setting field based learning for pre-service teachers. Our goal is to reflect on components that will induct pre-service teacher interns into a shared decision making process for developing curriculum that targets cultural issues. Learning centers become an instructional tool, university faculty and classroom teachers are mentors, and parents are resources for encouraging the process of learning social studies for all children. [paragraph 28]


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Editor's Note

This article originally appeared in Monograph II, entitled School and University Partnerships: Issues, Trends, Research, and Best Practices, which was edited by P. Nelson, et al. and published by the Pennsylvania Association of Colleges and Teacher Educators in 2000.  With permission from the editor and the authors we reprint the article here. 

Dr. Barbara Cozza
is Assistant Professor of Education at University of Scranton, currently teaching Social Studies Methods and Mathematics Methods courses for elementary teachers. She is involved in family-school-university partnerships and the development of web-based portfolios for teachers.

Dr. Tata Mbugua is a faculty member in the Department of Education at University of Scranton, specializing early childhood education and multicultural education.

Write to the Authors

Recommended Citation in the APA Style

Cozza, B. and Mbugua, T. (2000). Transforming the Cultures of the Family, School, and University Through Collaboration. Electronic Magazine of Multicultural Education [online], 2(2),  28 paragraphs. <Available: http://www.eastern.edu/publications/emme/2000fall/cozza_mbugua.html> [your access year, month date]


Editor: Heewon Chang, Ph. D.
Assistant Editors:
Anna Rose and Francoise Aimée Jean-Louis

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