“I Think I’m the Bridge”: Exploring Mentored Undergraduate Research Experiences in Critical Multicultural Education
Keywords:Mentored undergraduate research, critical multicultural education, teacher education, preservice teachers
Although mentored undergraduate research has been shown to deepen student engagement across various disciplines, this type of extended learning opportunity is not a prominent feature of research and practice in teacher education. Our article addresses this gap by analyzing the experiences and growth of a group of five preservice teachers engaged in a mentored undergraduate research experience in several sections of an introductory critical multicultural education course. Specifically, we examined how pre-service teachers’ personal, academic, and professional engagement with critical multicultural education is impacted when they are positioned as researchers and receive additional training outside the traditional class format. Our findings indicate that their involvement as student co-researchers fostered a new awareness, sensitivity, and emotional investment in issues of social justice beyond what they gained in their introductory multicultural education course. Pre-service teachers described navigating personal relationships with new awareness and sensitivity and adjusting future plans in accordance with their deeper understanding and commitment to educational equity. We argue that mentored research opportunities are an innovative way to address professor/student power differentials in teacher education research and offer a unique model of critical multicultural teacher education that promotes deep engagement with issues beyond the classroom setting.