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From Theory to Practice: The Influence of Immersive Experiences on Teachers’ Culturally Responsive Praxis

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Culturally responsive praxis (CRP) acknowledges, responds to, and celebrates students’ cultural, racial/ethnic, and linguistic backgrounds, thereby providing equitable access to learning opportunities (Ladson-Billings, 1994; Gay 2010, 2013; Paris & Alim, 2014). However, teachers find the CRP framework challenging to conceptualize and difficult to enact in practice (Fasching-Varner & Seriki, 2012; Warren & Talley, 2017; Young, 2010). In collaboration with a high school in Southern California, this study explored immersive experiences—designed to deepen teachers’ understanding of themselves, their students of color, and their practice—as a method to support the enactment of CRP. Student survey data (n=1,707) was used to determine to what extent high school students’ perceptions of school connection vary by race and/or ethnicity (RQ1). Students’ perceptions of school connection did not vary by race/ethnicity, while data from a focus group with students of color (n= 9) complicated these findings by illuminating the lived experiences of students of color in high school (RQ2). In the next phase of the study, 20 teachers engaged in an 8-week critical professional development (PD) model. Pre- and post-survey data with the PD teachers and a control group (n=125) measured empathy and critical consciousness to determine to what extent immersive experiences develop teacher empathy and critical consciousness (RQ3). Findings showed a statistically significant increase in the critical consciousness of the intervention group. Finally, qualitative interviews and teacher reflections were used to show how immersive experiences promote, inhibit, or alter the enactment of culturally responsive pedagogy (RQ4). Findings indicate that immersive experiences promoted greater confidence and motivation for enacting culturally responsive praxis, positioning immersive experiences as an innovative method to bridge the gap between CRP theory and practice.

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This item is under embargo until June 1, 2028.