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ERIC Number: ED534280
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 395
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1249-3409-9
Russian-Speaking Immigrant Teachers' Beliefs about Their Teaching Roles
Abramova, Inna
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, Purdue University
This dissertation is an inquiry into the experiences and beliefs of six Russian-speaking immigrant teachers, including myself, about the role of a teacher. We were all brought up and educated in the former republics of the Soviet Union and arrived in the United States at different times after its collapse in 1991. Our experiences of living in Soviet times were influential, as they shaped the beliefs that we bought to the United States. Encountering new people and cultures in a new country and adjusting to the new cultural environment, we were teaching and learning, and in the process, we were developing our identities and changing our beliefs. The conceptual framework of this study of beliefs was developed based on existing theories of multicultural education, curriculum theory and Mikhail Bakhtin's (1981) theory of language. Such concepts as experience, context and culture were illuminated and explored through the lens of language. Language was chosen because it helped to understand social and cultural meanings embedded in the language used by the participants. A life history approach, in combination with narrative inquiry, helped me to examine our beliefs in context. I explored our personal experiences, critical incidents in our lives, our cultures, and how they shaped our beliefs and practices. Employing the elements of narrative inquiry, I studied our experiences and beliefs and created a story with a plot. I also inquired into my experiences and beliefs and critically examined them. The study used elements of aesthetic design in the form of drawings, which challenged the rigid and linear qualities of scientific research. The research methods, which included a series of two interviews, observations of teaching and drawings, allowed me to gather rich data. In the analysis and interpretation process, I preserved the richness of the narratives but also tried to make meaning of our lives in context. In this study, I found that we had multiple beliefs about the role of a teacher that were shaped by our context, individual experiences and teaching practices in both countries, and by our cultural understandings of what it means to teach and to learn. Context played a critical role in the formation of our beliefs and influenced us in different ways, which supported the findings of other researchers. The political context of the Soviet education, in which we were educated, affected our beliefs about the role of a teacher as a powerful figure, a belief that we brought to the United States. Some of us struggled for voice in the new environment and, in this struggle, exhibited creativity in teaching and, as a result, introduced new teaching practices. Experiencing conflict between beliefs about the role of a teacher and institutional requirements some of us resisted the mandatory discourse in our thoughts but adjusted to it and implemented it in practice. For others, the change of context led to a change in beliefs, which was reflected in teaching. The multicultural context of our work and formal educational experiences influenced our beliefs about diversity and how we had to address the needs of students. In some cases, these beliefs were not supported by practice. Although we experienced some conflict that reflected our struggles with the English language and our cultural understanding of the role of a teacher, we were passionate about our work, dedicated to students' learning, and exhibited the desire to grow and develop professionally. In addition to these findings, the study has implications for theory. It confirms my convictions that beliefs are based on the experiences of an individual and are shaped by context. In turn, teaching practices are shaped by individual experiences, context and cultures. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Webpage:
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A