Inside a beginning immigrant science teachers classroom: An ethnographic study

Anne L. Kern, Gillian Roehrig, Donald K. Wattam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Teaching is a highly personal endeavor shaped by funds of knowledge and beliefs about teaching, learning, and students. This case study examines how one Asian immigrant teachers personal expectations and beliefs influenced his expectations of students and the teaching and instructional strategies he employed. His expectations of students behavior and their failure to conform to his expectations influenced him to utilize more traditional, didactic instructional practices and responses to classroom management dilemmas. It is generally assumed that immigrant and minority students will benefit from exposure to teachers from similar backgrounds, and that ethnically diverse teachers can better prepare minority students for the multicultural workplace and global economy. This study focuses on the role a teachers background and experiences play in development of their beliefs about teaching and learning, their expectations of students, and the instructional decisions they make regarding teaching and learning. This study suggests that teachers draw on their personal histories and cultural understandings to create classroom practices which are molded by microcosms of personal funds of knowledge and beliefs about teaching and learning. In contrast to conventional wisdom and unquestioned myths, this study emphasizes the importance of knowing that teachers cultural backgrounds do not necessarily qualify them to provide the most appropriate instructional environment for students from similar cultural backgrounds. This study suggests that all teachers need to learn to recognize and negotiate the unique social elements culturally diverse students bring to the classroom.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)469-481
Number of pages13
JournalTeachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was made possible by NSF grant 0353357. The results herein represent the findings of the authors and do not necessarily represent the view of personnel affiliated with the National Science Foundation.


  • social bias
  • teacher beliefs
  • teacher development
  • teacher practice


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