Universiteit Leiden

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PhD project

Culturally responsive teaching in Dutch multicultural secondary schools

Unraveling culturally responsive attitudes, noticing skills, knowledge and reasoned practices of expert teachers.

2016 - 2020
Brigitte Theeuwes


  • B.C. Theeuwes MSc - PhD candidate
  • prof.dr. W.F. Admiraal - supervisor
  • prof.dr. E.J.P.G. Denessen – supervisor
  • dr. N. Saab – co-supervisor

Project description

Due to increased diversity in society and schools, teachers are faced with many differences between students, such as differences in migration histories, native languages, religions, values and social classes. This diversity can be enriching for students because the diverse classroom reflects the pluriform society, allowing students to practice citizenship skills within an authentic environment. However, diversity among students also poses challenges for teachers to ensure that all students feel a sense of belonging and can reach their full potential. To achieve this, it is important that teachers, have a positive attitude regarding diversity. Moreover, it is important that teachers know the students in their classrooms and their (cultural) backgrounds well so that bridges can be built to cross cultural barriers between students and between the students and themselves. By building cultural bridges, teachers can also connect to and use students’ prior knowledge, experiences and cultural frames of reference in their teaching which is conducive to learning. This is called culturally responsive teaching.

In her PhD project, Brigitte Theeuwes examined the competence of culturally responsive teaching in a Dutch multicultural secondary education context by focusing on attitudes, noticing skills, knowledge and reasoned practices of expert teachers. For this purpose, three studies were conducted.

The first study was an interview study with 13 expert teachers at multicultural schools in the Randstad and focused on reasoned culturally responsive teaching practices. This study is published with the title: 'Docenten en hun cultuurdiverse klassen in het voortgezet onderwijs' (Teachers and their multicultural classrooms in Dutch secondary education). https://pedagogischestudien.nl/article/view/13908/15396

The second study was a qualitative questionnaire study that focused on noticing through a cultural lens. For this purpose, three 360° video clips were developed that student teachers and expert teachers watched with a Head Mounted Display (HMD). This study is submitted for publication.

The third study was a qualitative focus group study in which 5 focus groups were formed with 3 expert teachers each. In this study all components of culturally responsive teaching competence were examined (attitudes, knowledge, noticing through a cultural lens, reasoned practices). The 360° video clips from the previous study were used as stepping stones for the discussions in the focus groups. These videos were also watched with a HMD. This study is under review.

Foto:  LWA/Dann Tardif / Blend / Learning Pictures / Universal Images Group

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