This research shares findings from a qualitative case study featuring pre-service teachers enrolled in an undergraduate English methods course at a large public university. The participants engaged in a semester long course focused on different critical pedagogies, such as culturally sustaining pedagogy (Paris & Alim, 2014), funds of knowledge (Moll et al., 1992), and multicultural education (hooks, 1992). The purpose of the study was to determine what effect the study of critical pedagogies would have on the pre-service teachers’ design of a civic action unit for a secondary English language arts context. In terms of which critical pedagogies influenced the design of the civic action units, how the critical pedagogies were adapted for specific contexts, and how the critical pedagogies are negotiated with other systemic educational forces.
The data collection occurred over the final six weeks of the course and in a follow-up interview a month later. Data were drawn from the following sources: (1) participant’s weekly reflections, (2) audio recorded class discussions, (3) researcher field notes, (4) participant’s civic action units, and (5) follow-up interviews. The participant reflections, civic action units, and interviews went through three rounds of coding and were categorized to identify salient findings. The audio recordings and field notes were referenced to provide contextual details.
These findings show that when pre-service teachers engage in an ongoing dialogue about critical pedagogies, they design civic action units that apply a variety of critical pedagogies for a unique context while accounting for different systemic forces including educational standards, colleagues, and parents and policies. For the course, the participants were able to pick their unit’s focus and were responsible for the unit’s design. The participants designed units that engaged students in consciousness-raising experiences, and created opportunities for students to critically reflect on their world and take action to improve it. As a result, the participants in this study all reported that they planned on using their civic action unit in their future classrooms.