Addressing the deficit mindset of rural educators: An action research study of a rural high school’s implementation of culturally responsive pedagogical procedures



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When educators speak of deficit mindset they often speak to the conscious and subconscious thoughts that individuals may exhibit within the classroom that affects classroom instruction. The methods chosen to alter these thoughts can completely change an educator’s mind or a campus culture. Utilizing Valencia's Six Constructs of Deficit Mindset, the researcher involved in the study chose to alter campus participants' methods of instruction. The journey of the action-research practitioner follows his journey from a small-rural K-12 to a rural high school and the introduction of care ethics, social-emotional learning, and culturally relevant teaching concepts. The value derived is for the rural campus involved in the study to undergo a transformation of the participants for the betterment of student instruction and campus culture. The researcher focused upon the instructional strategies that were being utilized within the classroom by the classroom practitioners to effectively measure:

  1. How would the participants alter their classroom instruction after professional development concerning culturally relevant practices?
  2. Would there be a positive impact on the classroom abilities and performance of marginalized students?
  3. Would there be a positive impact on all students abilities and performances, regardless of sub-group? Through the action research process the study aimed to determine whether a professional development that was made available to participants would allow for the necessary growth for the benefit of student achievement. The rural study followed Mintrop’s (2016) “design-based school improvement: interventional principles. The research study has qualitative data, that includes, classroom observations, post-observation interviews, and pre- and post-study survey results utilizing Dr. K.O. Siwatu’s Culturally Responsive Teaching Self-Efficacy Scale (Siwatu, 2007). By utilizing an analysis based upon Tesch’s Eight Steps in the Coding Process, the researcher was able to formulate specific findings based upon the data (Creswell & Creswell, 2018). The participants were able to exhibit growth for the benefit of their students through their admitted growth in the observation interviews and observed differences in instruction. The information gleaned from this study will aid future practitioners in rural schools to create an environment where culturally relevant practices are introduced and able to alter teacher instruction for the benefit of all students, but specifically marginalized students.



Deficit Mindset, Social Emotional Learning, Culturally Responsive Pedagogy