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Spaces for cultural interpretation : a case study of four college English classrooms that serve Pacific Island students

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Item Summary

Title: Spaces for cultural interpretation : a case study of four college English classrooms that serve Pacific Island students
Authors: Washburn-Repollo, Eva Rose Batiancila
Keywords: Pacific Island students
Issue Date: May 2011
Publisher: [Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [May 2011]
Abstract: This multiple case study of four college classes teaching basic English analyzed how Pacific Island English Language Learner (ELL) college students, their non-ELL peers, and their instructors opened or closed spaces for cultural interpretation during discussion of reading texts. Cultural interpretation, as used in this study, included students' responses to texts based on their values, beliefs and shared practices with groups who speak the same language in their home cultures.
The results suggested that academic teaching structures characterized by perceived power relations between teachers and students can negatively impact the use of cultural interpretation of ELL students. Discussions in three out of four classes observed showed very limited or no evidence of cultural interpretation. These three classrooms' discussions followed explicit guidelines that shaped course content in pre-determined, teacher directed, structured ways. Both Pacific Island students and other students perceived the curriculum as set and saw their role in discussion as guided by the teachers' planning, teaching practices, and questions in the classroom.
The closing or opening of spaces varied on a number of classroom conditions: (1) level of use of pre-determined structures in the classrooms; (2) differences in valuing diverse cultural views; (3) students' fear attached to expressing cultural views in classroom contexts; (4) instructor selection of classroom set-up and activities; (5) instructors' questions.
Pacific Island students in this study held a number of reservations about participating in discussions, yet they were likely to share their views when their instructor invited them to and when they felt safe.
The results led to a preliminary formulation of a theory of classroom design to promote cultural interpretation. The design involves: (1) role of the college instructor; (2) the questions ask; and 3) the responses of students. The instructors' role in this design is to share their own cultures, set a flexible curriculum, allow varied structures, and use readings connected to students' lives. Questions asked are designed to open spaces for comfortable and non-judgmental responses. Students' responses in this design will disclose local worldviews, improve relationships among students and instructors, and integrate both multiple literacies to inform discussions of required texts.
Description: Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2011.
Includes bibliographical references.
Appears in Collections:Ph.D. - Education

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