Project Title: Interracial Communication Competence Among White Preservice Teachers

Faculty Sponsor: Danielle De La Mare

Department: Communications and Visual Arts



Project Description: This research project, which investigates the communication between an emerging partnership between UM-Flint and Beecher High School, seeks to contribute research to the field of Communication Studies about the successes and challenges of interracial communication among UM-Flint teacher certification students.  Because UM-Flint is a predominantly White institution and Beecher High School is predominantly African American, this research is most interested in how people of different cultural/racial backgrounds come together and the extent to which they may form meaningful and mutually beneficial relationships.  This ethnographic study will employ various data-gathering techniques in order to paint the fullest and most comprehensive picture of the relational complexities between UM-Flint students and Beecher students, including but not limited to, spending many hours observing tutoring services and classrooms, interviewing UM-Flint students about their experiences with Beecher students, and audio-recording discussions in a teacher certification course. The PI and research assistants will begin an observation/analysis process during the Fall 2012 Semester:  Early stages will include setting up the teacher certification course in the best way possible in order to both prepare UM-Flint students to interact productively with Beecher High students as well as to elicit important and meaningful data about UM-Flint’s students’ interracial communication competence.  Emerging stages will observe partnered communication that occurs in classrooms, tutoring centers, and other meetings. Final stages will analyze themes and make suggestions for improved communication in the future.  

Student Tasks & Responsibilities:  First and foremost, the research assistant should expect to transcribe, word-for-word, in-class dialogue between seven college students and their professor. After completing each transcript, which represents approximately three hours of classroom interaction, the research assistant will turn her/his attention to discourse analysis, which will require close attention to detail and working closely with the PI to ensure quality work.   

Minimum Qualifications: Motivation to prevail especially when the task of transcribing becomes tedious, an interest in communication studies, and detail-oriented