CEP811: Choose Your Own (SoTL) Adventure

This week for class we discussed scholarly research, specifically Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) research. The goal with this research is to improve a teacher’s skills by conducting research about student learning and about teaching practices. As part of this, I needed to explore the MSU library and get in touch with a MSU librarian. As I’m not that close to campus, I used the chat function available 24/7 to students. The librarian was most helpful in narrowing in on terms to search to get the results I wanted and clarifying a few things about getting full text resources. I’m a fan of librarians. I have a friend who is a librarian and any time I need a resource I can’t find, she is the go to person to dig it up. The fact that a librarian is available 24/7 is quite helpful to night owls like me and students who wait until the last minute to start researching.

I was tasked with completing research related to my teaching and interests. I decided to research a topic that piqued my interest from the reading I complete for the CEP810 class. One of the articles mentioned how Caucasians often misperceive the intelligence of African Americans as lesser because of different culture norms with speech patterns and linguistics. I can see the validity of these claims based on my experiences as an advisor. A higher percentage of African American students score lower on reading and English placement testing than their Caucasian counterparts. After reading these articles, I can’t help but wonder if this is due to the linguistic differences prevalent in their cultures. As I am Caucasian and teach in a urban setting, I want to find out more about this and how to combat it. I welcome any opportunity to learn how to better connect with my students and to eliminate any unintentional biases on my part.

Annotated Bibliography
Eller, R. (1989). Johnny Can’t Talk, Either: The Perpetuation of the Deficit Theory in Classrooms. The Reading Teacher, 42(9), 670-674. Retrieved December 6, 2013, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/20200272
This article discusses attitudes prevalent in the classroom where students are perceived as deficient based on a theory called Deficient Theory that began in the 1960s as a way to explain why disadvantaged students had trouble in school. According to the author, this theory has helped perpetuate the belief of linguistic inferiority among disadvantaged populations, particularly minorities. She highlights studies that find students successful when allowed to learn within their own linguistic vernacular. The author highlights accepting alternate responses to questions that are correct based on the students understanding even if they are not what the student is supposed to respond. The author advocates that we examine our own biases and avoid labeling children as verbally inept just because their response is different than our own.

Lamos, S. (2008). Language, Literacy, and the Institutional Dynamics of Racism: Late-1960s Writing Instruction for “High-Risk” African American Undergraduate Students at One Predominantly White University. College Composition and Communication, 60(1), 46-81. Retrieved December 6, 2013, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/20457044
The article focuses on how racist ideologies of language and literacy shaped the development of writing programs aimed at high-risk African American students in the 1960s and 1970s. (p.46) The author talks about desegregation in education and the impacts racism had on these efforts. He discusses how the result of trying to assist the African American community and respond to their needs was to create “high-risk” educational programs that worked off the belief that low-income and minority students lacked the skills to succeed at the college level even if they had the potential to be successful. He highlights that many of these programs did little to change the deeply inbred forms of institutional racism. The programs focused more on forcing the students to change to meet “white” standards for speech and grammar instead of working within the cultural construct of the students. He discusses in great detail several attempts by colleges at the time to create these “high-risk” programs as an effort to increase diversity on campus and opportunity within the African American community. In general, these efforts proved unsuccessful because they really only sought to perpetuate the belief of the superiority of white mainstream language and literacy skills. (p.66) The author asserts that he believes that while flawed, these programs are redeemable if they better address the institutional racism within the programs.

Pearson, B. Z., Connor, T., & Jackson, J. E. (2013). Removing Obstacles for African American English-Speaking Children Through Greater Understanding of Language Difference. Developmental Psychology, 49(1), 31-44. Retrieved December 6, 2013, from http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0028248
This article focuses on the acknowledge that there is a different, non mainstream dialect with the African American community and the fact it remains denigrated in popular culture and education. The authors also highlight examples where students are denied educational opportunities because of their linguistic patterns.  The authors mention court cases where the ruling favored providing resources to children who spoke African American English to better aid the students in completely the material.  The authors mention a document from the American Psychological Association that finds that “culturally learned systems of belief can create negative attitudes at a subconscious level.” (p.31) The authors define what AAE is by providing numerous examples of the differences in linguistics and who typically speaks it. The authors offer several solutions to combat the existing problems with the system including: programs that harness the power of high expectations instead of treating it as a deficiency, programs that appreciate linguistic diversity, and programs that develop different kinds of linguistic awareness, especially dialect awareness. (p.39)

Solorzano, D. G., & Yosso, T. J. (2001). From racial stereotyping and deficit discourse toward a critical race theory in teacher education. Multicultural Education, 9(1), 2-8.
The article discusses linkages between a theoretical framework–critical race theory (CRT)–and its relation and application to the concepts of race, racism, and racial stereotyping in teacher education. (p.2) Critical race theory is described as challenging the current discourse that subordinates certain racial and ethnic groups. CRT specifically has five themes that make up its pedagogy: the centrality and intersectionality of race and racism, the challenge to dominant ideology, the commitment to social justice, the centrality of experiential knowledge, and the interdisciplinary perspective. The authors advocate for teacher education that identifies the subtle negative attitudes and racism within the educational environment and then seeks to find ways to eliminate them. The authors also provide a number of examples of typical statements made to people of different races that demonstrate both racism and the fact that everything connects back to race within our existing culture.

Wei, M., KU, T., & Wang, K. T. (2012). A development and validation of the perceived language discrimination scale. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic minority Psychology, 18(4), 340-351. Retrieved December 6, 2013, from http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0029453
This article focuses on discrimination based on racial minorities and speaking English as a second language. The authors highlight the effects both on achievement and even mention the effects on mental health. The authors highlight that discrimination based on language can occur just about anywhere in everyday life. The article is more of a quantitative study of the issue than a sociological approach like many of the other articles I read. The study looked at a variety of factors included the impact of the discrimination on respondents’ physical health and mental health. In general, the discrimination is self-reported feelings based on the individual’s interaction with the community at large. The authors discuss how this can impact mental health treatment, quality of life, and other barriers to integration within society for those that speak English as a second language.