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Journal of Education (University of KwaZulu-Natal)

On-line version ISSN 2520-9868
Print version ISSN 0259-479X


WEST, Joyce; EVANS, Rinelle  and  JORDAAN, Joyce. Measuring preservice teachers' ethnocentrism: A South African case study. Journal of Education [online]. 2021, n.85, pp.163-187. ISSN 2520-9868.

High degrees of ethnocentrism indicate intolerance towards that which is not one's own. When displayed by teachers towards learners, such attitudes may have detrimental effects on learner performance and hinder transformation in South African classrooms. Using Vygotskian sociocultural theory of human learning as a theoretical framework, this quantitative case study reports on the outcome of the electronically administered Generalised Ethnocentrism survey that measured 1,164 preservice teachers' ethnocentrism at a private higher education institution. Apart from providing biographical data, respondents answered 22 statements on a 5-point Likert-type scale about their beliefs pertaining to their own and others' culture, customs, and values. Results showed that preservice teachers manifest varying degrees of ethnocentrism but that those who attended multicultural schools scored significantly lower on the ethnocentrism scale than those who attended mono-ethnic schools. Respondents in the last stretch of their studies also obtained lower scores on the GENE scale than first and second years. This would suggest that greater exposure to social diversity and interaction across cultures plays a fundamental role in shaping ethnocentric beliefs and attitudes. An unexpected finding was that the instrument did not provide similar results as found in several studies, thus creating misgivings about its applicability in a context in which a minority ethnic grouping no longer held power. Policy makers and teacher educators should consider interventions to create more explicit and purposeful opportunities for preservice teachers to gain multicultural exposure and develop cultural competence. Assisting prospective teachers to identify their own ethnocentrism and knowing how to counter the many prevailing ideologies that promote, however inadvertently, ethnocentrism would prepare them for the realities of their future classroom and equip them to act as agents of change.

Keywords : ethnicity; ethnocentrism; mono-ethnic; pre-service teacher; teacher education.

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