Document Type


Date of Degree


Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Educational Policy and Leadership Studies

First Advisor

McNabb, Scott F.


This study seeks insight into the experiences of pre-service teachers concerning issues of race prior to their embarking on a required multicultural education course. The study seeks to explore these questions: What kinds of racial knowledge or familiarity do pre-service teachers bring with them to their undergraduate classrooms? What key events have shaped their attitudes and their ability to talk about race? What concerns do they have about their ability to teach future students who are racially different from themselves?

This study was conducted using qualitative methods, with a series of questions posed to small focus groups in a university in the Midwest. The participants' responses were transcribed and coded for examination. Utilizing this method, several themes emerged.

Participant interviews revealed a complex range of responses to experiences with race prior to enrolling in their multicultural education course. Students reported feeling inadequately prepared to engage in racial dialogue and expressed concern that their lack of knowledge would lead to misunderstandings. While most participants generally reported a strong sense of acceptance of others, they also acknowledged feelings of guilt as they struggled to make sense of their own prejudice and bigotry. Resentful about the social pressures they felt were brought about by an environment of over zealous political correctness, participants also reported feelings of alienation from family and friends they considered racist in their actions and their speech. Fearing that constant attention to race could cause a return to a period of greater racial tension, the participants also spoke of their desire for more opportunities to engage in meaningful racial dialogue and to learn more about those who were racially different. Overall, participants cited early family interactions and media exposure as key influences that continue to shape their current perspectives on race. While some participants embraced these early experiences, many sought to distance themselves and determine their own path.

Despite these complicated struggles with race and racial dialogue, the participants felt determined and optimistic about their ability to provide leadership for their future students.


vii, 144 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 135-144).


Copyright 2007 Lanese Kwegyir Aggrey

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