Date of Award

5-20-2005

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Degree Program

Curriculum & Instruction

Department

Curriculum and Instruction

Major Professor

Casbergue, Renee

Second Advisor

Barnitz, John

Third Advisor

Bedford, April Whatley

Fourth Advisor

Longstreet, Wilma

Fifth Advisor

Speaker, Richard

Abstract

Although each Asian culture is unique, many Americans tend to generalize and see "Asian" as one vaguely defined culture. This study explored the use of multicultural literature in assisting elementary school students to become aware of and then develop true understanding of what makes two Asian groups different. This case study assessed whether fifth graders in a public elementary school in the Southeast raised their awareness of similarities and differences between two Asian cultures after reading Journey to Topaz (1971), written by Yoshiko Uchida, and Dragon's Gate (1993), written by Laurence Yep. The use of multicultural literature has become common in literacy instruction and is considered useful for developing children's multicultural awareness. The exchange of opinions with their peers helps students nurture their own interpretations of the stories. Nineteen participants took part in this study. They read two multicultural stories from different Asian cultures with their reading teachers. Multiple data were collected in the form of open-ended questionnaires, response journals and observation field notes. A pretest questionnaire was used to measure the participants' current knowledge about the cultures in the stories, and a posttest questionnaire was used to measure the changes in participants' attitudes and understanding. Response journals allowed the participants to share their feelings while reading the stories. I conducted individual interviews with selected participants after the students had read and discussed both books. In this study, data have been analyzed based on four research questions: 1) What were fifth graders' interpretations of Japanese- and Chinese-American cultures before reading the stories? 2) What were the interpretations of fifth graders when they engaged in writing and discussing their thoughts while reading literary works from these two different Asian cultures? 3) How did their interpretations change after they read each story? 4) What were the similarities and differences in participants’ interpretations and understanding of these two stories? In order to report the findings in depth, five cases from the selected interviewees were also within-analyzed and then cross-analyzed in the study.

Rights

The University of New Orleans and its agents retain the non-exclusive license to archive and make accessible this dissertation or thesis in whole or in part in all forms of media, now or hereafter known. The author retains all other ownership rights to the copyright of the thesis or dissertation.

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