RESEARCH AND INNOVATION
TEACHING SOCIAL JUSTICE By Lori Fredrich
Research spanning six years brings clarity to the debate over teacher dispositions In the United States and beyond, students from low-income racial, ethnic and immigrant minority groups often do not have the same educational and life opportunities as their middle class, ethnic majority peers. As a response, teacher educators have regularly asked: What knowledge, skills and dispositions should teachers have to reduce the gap in educational opportunity and outcomes? What are the best ways to promote social justice by actively working to remove classroom and institutional barriers that keep all students from academic success?
These and other questions have been the focus of research conducted by Drs. Joan Whipp and Sharon Chubbuck, associate professors in the College of Education. For years, their work has centered on Marquette’s own teacher education program, which was intentionally designed to prepare teachers to work in urban schools. The partnership between the two faculty members dates back to 2006. Their original work was largely conceptual, responding primarily to the huge debate in teacher education over what dispositions are and how to assess them, as well as discussions about how social justice fits into the conversation on teaching dispositions. “Teachers are faced with myriad challenges in supporting the learning of their students,” explains Chubbuck. “While having solid knowledge and skills for effective teaching is essential, having the attitudes, beliefs and orientations to support and guide the application of that knowledge and skill is also essential.” The pair’s more recent work has included a study of 64 recent graduates that follows their progress from the end of their student teaching experience into their first year of teaching. The study tracks the subjects’ developing perceptions of socially just teaching; how they were enacting those perceptions in their teaching practice; and what pre-program, program and on-the-job knowledge, experiences and dispositions were contributing to that development.
Drs. Sharon Chubbuck and Joan Whipp, associate professors in the College of Education
Photo by Ben Smidt
In recent presentations at meetings hosted by major U.S. and European educational research associations, the research