Educational Research

Educational Research (ISSN: 2141-5161) Vol. 5(8), pp. 280-289, September 2014. DOI: http:/ Copyright © 2014 International Research Journals


Full Length Research Paper

Teachers’ Beliefs about Intercultural Education: Different Levels of Intercultural Sensitivity in Schooling and Teaching

Bruno Leutwyler*a, Carola Mantela, Danijela S. Petrovićb, Bojana M. Dimitrijevićb and Blagica Zlatkovićc

aInstitute for International Cooperation in Education IZB, University of Teacher Education Zug, Switzerland

bInstitute of Psychology, University of Belgrade, Serbia

cFaculty of Teacher Education, Vranje, University of Niš, Serbia

*Corresponding authors e-mail:



Teachers play a key role in dealing appropriately and effectively with culturally diverse classrooms. Research on teacher competences highlights the important functions of teachers’ beliefs for effective teaching. However, teachers’ beliefs about intercultural education are mainly investigated with regard to general descriptions referring to prevailing deficient orientations, with regard to different typologies or with regard to their relation to classroom management, diversity-related burnout or prevailing policy discourses – but not with regard to the crucial question of what actually shapes teachers’ beliefs about intercultural education and how these beliefs might be developed. Against this background, the present contribution suggests a conceptual approach to understanding teachers’ beliefs about intercultural education. Thereby, it draws on intercultural theory suggesting that beliefs about intercultural education are shaped differently depending on the level of the teachers’ intercultural sensitivity. Considering the Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity (DMIS) and drawing on data of 18 semi-structured interviews, including a hypothetical critical incident, the paper provides empirical evidence on how teachers’ beliefs about intercultural education differ according to different levels of intercultural sensitivity. Practical implications for teacher education as well as implications for further research are discussed.

Keywords: Intercultural Education, Intercultural Sensitivity, Teacher Beliefs, Teacher Education, Cultural Diversity.

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