Zirkel, S. (2008). The influence of multicultural educational practices on student outcomes and intergroup relations. The Teachers College Record, 110(6), 1147-1181
Background: How best to serve a racially and ethnically diverse student body has been a topic of intensive theory development for the past 30 or 40 years. We have strong theoretical models regarding the need for and practice of multicultural education, the goals of which include both increased educational achievement for students of color and improved intergroup relations. Nevertheless, there are few places where one can find a broad examination of the empirical support for the influence of multicultural educational practice on either student outcomes or intergroup relations.
Purpose: In this article, I use James A. Banks’s widely used conceptualization of the five components of multicultural educational practice—content integration, knowledge construction, prejudice reduction, equity pedagogies, and empowering school cultures—to examine the empirical evidence for the influence of each of these five different components on the academic outcomes of students of color and intergroup relations in schools.
Conclusions: The empirical research reveals that all five components of multicultural educational practice outlined by Banks to have a strong, positive impact on the educational outcomes of students of color and to improved intergroup relations, although research has been stronger in some areas (e.g., prejudice reduction and some equity pedagogies such as cooperative learning) than others (e.g., the specific effects of content integration and knowledge construction). The evidence suggests several additional conclusions: (1) Multicultural educational practice has benefit for the academic outcomes of all students, not just students of color. (2) Multicultural educational practice is most effective when implemented with careful attention to issues of race and power. (3) The academic and intergroup relations outcomes are linked, in that efforts designed to improve one improve the other. Implications for future research on the effects of multicultural educational practice on students, as well as teacher and administrator education programs, are discussed.