A-Z Index

1.3 Culturally responsive practice, including intersectionality of race, ethnicity, class, gender identity and expression, sexual identity, and the impact of language acquisitions and literacy development on learning

All Northwest teacher, leader, and counselor candidates upon completion demonstrate culturally responsive practice: including intersectionality of race, ethnicity, class, gender identity and expression, sexual identity, religion, different abilities, and the impact of language acquisition and literacy development on learning. They have a deep understanding of school communities as diverse centers of learning and as well as their responsibility to nurture growth in all students, regardless of difference.

This section of the QAR is divided into four subsections: the first addresses the phase one coursework in which Northwest introduces culturally responsive practice, the second addresses the reinforcement of these concepts in phase two coursework, the third analyzes MEES data from the application of these concepts in student teaching, and the fourth addresses culturally responsive practice in Northwest's Advanced or Graduate programs.

Northwest Institutional Learning Outcomes: Communicating and Diversity

Throughout the university, coursework in both the PEU and also in general education emphasizes self-reflection and professional collaboration through two of the university’s seven institutional learning outcomes, Communicating and Diversity. The Critical Thinking outcome, another institutional learning outcome, states that all Northwest students will be able to “utilize information to generate reasonable hypotheses and draw educated conclusions,” elucidate solutions based on these conclusions with the ability to reflect and evaluate their effectiveness, and “recognize that this process is self-reflective and continuous.” The Teamwork outcome further emphasizes all Northwest students attain the capacity for “developing effective and ethical collaborative relationships.” Our graduates are able to demonstrate their ability to self-reflective while promoting respect for diverse cultures and persons with intellectual and/or physical disabilities. This evidence is connected to our progressive and widely-articulated core outcomes, baked into the general education coursework and through other curricular experiences. Because the assessment of our completers comes from those who evaluate Northwest teacher candidates as university supervisors for culminating clinical practice, there is an added measure of trustworthiness to the data, and it helps to close the loop on the impact of the program on candidates’ learning.

Diversity Hours in the Old Undergraduate Program (2020 Completers)

All undergraduate candidates in the old undergraduate programs (those completing in 2019-20 and before) have been required to complete thirty diversity hours, which they document using the Northwest Diversity Credit Hour Form. For more information on the diversity hours requirement, see the diversity hours page on the Teacher Education Student Services (TESS) website. As described on the website, these experiences were quite diverse: candidates fulfilled the requirement by listening to speakers on topics related to diversity in education, volunteering in diverse educational settings, actively participating in other faculty-approved activities where candidates reinforced and applied their skills in community-building and culturally responsive educational practices. Records for diversity hours are maintained by the Teacher Education Student Services (TESS) office.

Please note: the diversity-hours requirement has been phased out for all candidates in the newly redesigned programs; in its place, experiences have been redesigned and embedded directly in coursework and required clinical experiences attached to that coursework, as described further below. 

Introducing Community-Based and Culturally Responsive Teaching in Phase One Coursework

All Northwest candidates in the newly redesigned undergraduate program (those completing beginning in 2020-21) are introduced to community-based and culturally responsive educational practices in their first semester of coursework. These concepts are then reinforced and applied in later coursework, which includes clinical experiences with diverse learners within diverse cultural and socioeconomic school and community settings. For more detailed information on candidates’ robust and numerous supervised clinical experiences, please see Table 4: Northwest Teacher Candidate Clinical Experiences Crosswalk. Candidates apply culturally responsive educational practices in their culminating clinical experience in student teaching, which is then assessed through the Missouri Educator Evaluation System (MEES), using the MEES Teacher Candidate Assessment Rubric.

All teacher candidates in the undergraduate programs are required to complete 62-111: Ecology of Teaching and 62-112: Developmental Foundations in their first semester in their program. These courses emphasize the need for teachers to engage in culturally responsive practice and draw upon theory and research to inform practice. As outlined in the course learning outcomes in the Developmental Foundations syllabus (this syllabus and all other course syllabi are available in the Northwest AAQEP Canvas site), “candidates will apply their knowledge of development, theory, and research to define the essential components of culturally responsive practice.” As part of their coursework, candidates write a personal narrative, which tasks them to synthesize their learnings on culturally responsive practice. 62-117: Inclusive Classrooms and Positive Learning Environments, generally taken in candidates’ third semester in the program, further requires teacher candidates to fulfill a service project documenting fifteen hours of interaction with individuals with disabilities.

This coursework fosters cross-cultural understanding and teaches candidates multiple ways to consider and make meaning of culture. As foundation courses, these allow the teacher candidate to explore their own beliefs and biases.  Further exploration of candidate understanding is explored in greater depth in the mid-level courses where students explore not only their own beliefs but see how their words and actions within the classroom can stifle or augment their P-12 students' in-class experience. This culturally responsive process is taught in the university classroom and then explored through either video review and/or field experience observations, with intent for critical, reflective consideration. In order to afford our teacher candidates with the opportunity to consider cultural phenomenon that they did not grow up with, we ensure that the teacher candidates have field experiences outside of their own familiar experience (i.e. if a student was raised in an urban setting, they will have a field experience in the rural setting; if a student was raised in a rural setting, they will have a field experience in an urban setting).

Reinforcing and Applying Culturally Responsive Practice in 61-569: Multiculturalism in Education and Other Phase Two Coursework

One of the culminating courses where the students explore culture further is the 61-569 Multiculturalism in Education course.  Within this course, the students study about the various cultural groups (i.e. EL/ELL/ESOL students, socioeconomic groups, varied ability groups, racial groups, ethnic groups, gender groups, sexual orientation groups, religious groups, etc.). Then, through the constant comparison of the teacher candidates' own biases, the students select projects and field experiences that will enhance their social and cultural awareness of these groups and the intersectionality of them within the classroom and school community.

Further, spiraling from teacher candidates’ introduction to culturally responsive practice in 62-112: Developmental Foundations and other phase-one coursework, all teacher candidates in phase two of their program then reinforce their culturally responsive practices through various coursework and clinical experiences. Elementary and Special Education candidates reinforce these principles, for example, in mid-level, diverse clinical experiences in 62-221: Literacy in the Elementary School, 62-356: Teaching Reading / Language Arts in the Elementary School, and 62-386 Methods of Teaching Cross-Categorical Special Education.  As part of this coursework, candidates travel to and spend a school day at Fairmount Elementary School in Independence, Missouri. There they implement a collaboratively developed -- elementary and SPED candidates are paired up together for the project -- a small-group reading lesson in a K-5 classroom with implementation of culturally responsive teaching practices throughout. Since the fall 2012 trimester, over 1,100 candidates have participated in the daylong experience. 

Early Childhood candidates take 62-421: Constructivist Philosophy, Theory, Curriculum Approaches and Practice in Early Childhood. All physical education teacher candidates, as another example, take 22-410: Adapted Physical Education; this course is designed to offer a survey of human physical disabilities combined with adapted and rehabilitative measures to promote better living for the individual. In the course, physical education candidates reinforce their culturally responsive practices: fine-tuning their skills in enhancing the quality of life and improving the level of physical well-being available to individuals with disabilities by successfully participating in physical activity, recreation, and/or sport. As a culminating project, candidates complete a fifteen-hour service project related to special / adapted physical education or recreation services to individuals with a disability; after completion, they reflect in writing and detail the experience and their own growth as culturally responsive teachers.

Syllabi for these courses (and all other PEU courses) are available in the Northwest AAQEP Canvas site.

Reinforcing Culturally Responsive Practice through Co-Curricular Emphasis

An emphasis on cultural academic experiences as well as non-academic focused cultural experiences have occurred at Northwest. These experiences are supported by a wealth of entities on campus, including leadership, professional education faculty (Ploghoft Lecture series), student services (Diversity Lecture Series), and our office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Faculty determine the impact of these initiatives through evaluation of course-level outcomes.

Since 2016, the Special Education program and the student organization, Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), have collaborated in a partnership with Lettuce Dream. Lettuce Dream is an agricultural non-profit organization that employs individuals with special needs. These workers reside in the Maryville community and make a living working in greenhouses raising a variety of lettuce for sale in the local community. Lettuce Dream “exists to provide meaningful employment and job training programs for persons with cognitive or developmental disabilities so that they may enjoy the benefits of living, working, and fully participating in our community” (Lettuce Dream, 2015). Most recently, the Northwest Missouri Council for Exceptional Children organization collaborated with Lettuce Dream for volunteer work at their fundraisers and in the near future will be donating half the proceeds in honor of Autism Awareness. Beginning Fall 2019, teaching, data collection, and data analysis processes completed at Lettuce Dream will be linked to program coursework.

Applying Culturally Responsive Practice in Student Teaching: MEES Standard #6

Please note: Missouri Educator Evaluation System (MEES) is introduced in an earlier section of this report. If you have not already read that subsection, it is recommended that you go back to the previous section which details AAQEP Standard 1.1. This section will only address the MEES assessment as it applies to MEES Standard #6.

MEES Standard #6 explicitly addresses candidates’ capacity for engaging in and teaching their students to engage in effective communication. There is not a MEES standard that explicitly and perfectly aligns to the concepts of culturally responsive teaching, perhaps a weakness in the system. Northwest, though, has embedded culturally responsive practice as a tenet here of effective communication; candidates’ capacities for effective communication incorporate a capacity for communicating across intersectionalities of race, ethnicity, class, gender identity and expression, sexual identity, and the impact of language acquisition and literacy development on learning.  MEES Standard #6 (as well as the other eight MEES standards) have all been crosswalked throughout all of the university’s education programs, as outlined in Table 3: Northwest State and National Educator Prep Standards Alignment

As shown in the data below, Northwest candidates’ performance on MEES Standard #6 compares favorably with the state average for 2018-19:

Northwest looks forward to sharing that data with the site visit team in March. All MEES data in the quality assurance report comes from DESE and is regularly analyzed to determine program effectiveness and opportunities for improvement.

Further information regarding Northwest candidates’ performance on summative MEES assessments is available in later sections in this report:

Culturally Responsive Practice and Northwest's Advanced/Graduate Programs

All candidates in advanced programs also engage in culturally-responsive educational practices with diverse learners within diverse cultural and socioeconomic community settings throughout a wide variety of assignments and clinical experiences that demand expertise in culturally responsive teaching. Experiences include internships, practicum experiences and clinical observations, and individualized clinical experiences embedded within program coursework.

Candidates in the Reading Master’s program, for example, take 62-601: Literacy-Based Assessment and Analysis; in this course, their culminating project has them prepare a Literacy Profile Collection. In this course candidates prepare for a conference with their focus learner regarding his or her literacy skills and then write 3-5 culturally responsive recommendations to be shared with the student’s family for work at home to be done to assist the student in their continued literacy development. Reading Master’s candidates also take 62-695: Literacy Capstone, where they complete a video in which they address each of the ILA Standards. Specifically, program candidates address ILA Standard #4 in terms of their culturally responsive practice and how culturally responsive practice in demonstrating knowledge of research, relevant theories, pedagogies, essential concepts of diversity and equity, and demonstrate and provide opportunities for understanding all forms of diversity as central to students’ identities. Syllabi for both of these courses (and all other Northwest PEU courses) are available in the Northwest AAQEP Canvas site

Clinical experiences in culturally responsive educational practices in other Northwest advanced programs outlined in greater depth in Table 4: Northwest Teacher Candidate Clinical Experiences Crosswalk.