I. Diversity Focus in the Early Foundations of Education

Prepared by Lynn Schnettler 

"The Block:" Description, Progress, and Evaluation. 

          All elementary, middle and secondary potential teacher candidates enter the CSB/SJU Education program into the Tier One foundations level (See Attachment A) in the course EDUC 111 Introduction to Teaching and Learning in a Diverse World.  In this introductory course, students are required to fulfill a 25-hour Service Learning Commitment.  These candidates have the opportunity to choose from a wide range of diverse settings, including the Boys and Girls Clubs, Minnesota Reading Corps, Saturday Success School, LaCruz, Somali After School Tutoring (SASSO), Casa Guadalupe and College Bound. Table 1 provides a sample of EDUC 111 students and sites.

Table 1: 2009-2010 Service Learning Site Enrollments

Fall 2009 Sites Participants Spring 2010 Sites Participants
Fast Forward Youth Program 12 Fast Forward Youth Program 7
South Side Boys and Girls Club 10 South Side Boys and Girls Club 8
East Side Boys and Girls Club 13 East Side Boys and Girls Club 5
Roosevelt Boys and Girls Club 12 Roosevelt Boys and Girls Club 5
Kennedy Kidstop 14 Kennedy Kidstop 5
St. Joseph Catholic School 23 St. Joseph Catholic School 10
Madison Kidstop 5 Madison Kidstop 2
Discovery Kidstop 9 Discovery Kidstop 5
Upward Bound 7 St. Cloud Area Somali Salvation Organization (SASSO) 2
Casa Guadalupe 3 Casa Guadalupe 5
District 742 St. Cloud 4 District 742 St. Cloud 2
LaCruz Community Services 2 LaCruz Community Services 1
Kennedy Study Buddy Program 3
St. Augustine's/St. Mary's 1
Total Fall Participants: 118 Total Spring Participants: 61


          During the course EDUC 111 (Introduction to Teaching and Learning in a Diverse World) and in the accompanying Service Learning experiences, candidates are required to write online posts that address selected INTASC-based Minnesota Standards of Effective Practice (MSEPS).  The addressed MSEPS include, but are not limited to, diversity, learning styles, instructional strategies, and student learning.

          During EDUC 111, candidates wishing to seek acceptance to the CSB/SJU Teacher Education Program complete a one week 40-hour Teacher Shadow.  Our summary of Demographics for Partnership and Collaborative Schools offers samples of school diversity and poverty demographics (see O: Education → Program Review → NCATE 2012 → Diversity and Partnerships). Candidates taking EDUC 111 are also required to attend an on-campus event that deals with diversity, gender, or education. In addition to the online posts, candidates create a diversity transcript, which tracks diversity education and experiences.

          Upon successful completion of EDUC 111, Elementary Education majors will enter the Elementary Education Block (EEBlock). The EEBlock continues to provide diverse experiences for the candidates begun in EDUC 111. The design intent of the EEBlock, which is one full semester of concurrent education coursework, was to more effectively integrate multicultural education into all phases of our program. Piloted in Fall 2001, the EEBlock provides a full time one-week immersion experience in diverse urban settings and a three-week part time local experience as teacher assistants in diverse elementary schools. Similar objectives were piloted for secondary and K-12 licensure diversity experiences in Fall 2002.

The EEBlock (18 credits) is configured as follows:

  • EDUC 151 Principles of Art (2 credits)
  • EDUC 201 Human Development: Typical and Exceptional (4)
  • EDUC 212 Clinical Experience  K-8 Diversity Immersion (2)
  • EDUC 215 Literature for Children and Adolescents (4)
  • EDUC 310 Educational Psychology (4)        
  • EDUC 315 Art Pedagogy (2)

          Because this is a full 18-credit block, Education Department faculty have the freedom to flexibly schedule clinical experiences and classes to meet the objective for meaningful diversity clinical experiences.

          Three important objectives are achieved in the EEBlock. First, education candidates are exposed to foundations of multicultural education at the outset of their program. Second, education candidates have shared experiences. The academic courses in the block share the clinical. The one-week urban diversity clinical and local diversity field experiences in the same or similar settings provide shared opportunities for reflection. Shared diversity experiences helps develop an experiential learning community as well as opportunity to provide support and debriefing opportunities for candidates in various phases of intercultural encounter (Cushner, McClelland, & Safford, 2012). Third, the theoretical content in the foundations block courses is more systematically related to clinical experiences. The theory-into-practice connection intends to support pedagogic practices - more deeply explored and further experienced in Tier Two methods courses (see Attachment A) - that meaningful respond to increasing diverse classrooms.

          A variety of activities occur in the EEBlock. After basic introductions to the courses, candidates are given an instrument to assess their attitudes (Attachment B) toward diverse urban multicultural education. In Fall 2010, EDUC 212/213 Clinical Experience was approved by the institution to meet the Intercultural Designation.  This institutional designation is "designed to help all students develop a greater understanding of diversity while recognizing that individual values are shaped by one's unique background" (Common Curriculum, 2011). Students study the Hmong culture.

          Another activity during the semester, candidates do a one-week full-day clinical experience in a diversity-rich urban classroom. In addition to providing assistance in those classrooms, candidates complete a classroom demographic profile (see Table 2). Also, during the Block experience, specifically in EDUC 212 Clinical Experience, candidates complete a journal from the one-week urban clinical experience and a journal from their two-week 30-hour observation at the local level.  Students also write a reflection essay describing their experiences and reaction in these two settings.  The final reflection paper also incorporates and addresses several of the SEPS.  Students in this course are also required to record their experiences and update their Diversity Transcript, which is accessed online through the CSB/SJU Education Department's website.  (See Attachment C for an example of one such Diversity Transcript.)