How to handle "Cultural" questions

Discussion in 'General Education' started by engineerkyle, Jun 13, 2013.

  1. engineerkyle

    engineerkyle Companion

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    Jun 13, 2013

    Hi All,

    To complete online job applications, many districts around here use a screening test called "Polaris" or "Profile Builder" or some such name.

    There are usually questions about culture (race) and I never now how to answer them in a way that will get me high score.

    example...

    I think it is important to discuss a student's cultural background with other teachers

    I believe it is natural for students of similar cultures to each lunch together

    I think a student's cultural background affects there ability to learn


    These are Likert scale type questions that can be answered; Strongly agree, agree, strongly disagree, etc.


    How do you handle them?

    Thanks
     
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  3. mkate

    mkate Comrade

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    Jun 13, 2013

    Wow. I'm curious, too. The third question seems like an obvious "no", and I would tend to agree with the second one as well (which is not to say that if there is a lot of self-segregation happening during social time, one should always just shrug it off and not look deeper into the issue...) As for the first one, what is or is not discussed with other teachers regarding a particular child depends on many factors-- hard to give a hard-and-fast answer.

    In general I think it would be hard to answer these questions with no context and no chance to explain your reasons. I hope that there are a wide range of questions and that you don't end up with a whole lot riding on just a few of these.

    ETA: Not to forget, also, that cultural factors might have an influence on how students learn best-- but that wasn't the question.
     
  4. monsieurteacher

    monsieurteacher Aficionado

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    I don't like those questions. I would have no problem answering verbally when I could explain my reasoning, but I wouldn't feel comfortable simply putting my answer on a scale of 1-5, because there are a lot of factors that affect how I feel about each of these statements.
     
  5. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    I don't like them either. They are phrased in a way that could be interpreted very differently, and without an ability to provide further explanation you could box yourself in.

    Sadly and a bit ironically, these questions were probably designed out of a desire to promote equality and opportunity, but actually make things worse.
     
  6. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

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    Is there a neutral option? Or no opinion? For any questions that I think are too ambiguous I always pick the most neutral answer possible.
     
  7. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Jun 13, 2013

    I don't like these questions either. I'd be ok with them in an interview because I could explain myself, but it's hard to know what would be the right answer.
    The 3rd is easy - in my opinion - because I strongly disagree with the fact that students' cultural background affects how they learn. But, their cultural background might affect how they socialize and interact, it can even affect how much they participate, so that could affect their learning. So who knows?
    But the first 2? Those are tricky.
     
  8. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Jun 13, 2013

    Many tests of this sort ask the same question in different ways. I suspect this is precisely to deal with the issue that most of you have noted. If the answers to the various versions of the last question differ, that's likely to be more reassuring to a district than if all the answers trend in a direction that some might consider separatist or racist. (If the answers never differ but in the other direction, a district might be entitled to suspect a bit of fibbing, but that's a different story.)
     
  9. teachart

    teachart Comrade

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    Yeah I hate that one! So glad I got hired in a district that didn't use it.

    My least favorite question though was "Your report is going to be late what would you do?" And the answers are call the principal and say it will be late, get a sub, call the secretary at home, ask secretary to go in early the next day, ect. But you have to rank all the answers, not choose them. So dumb.

    And you never see your score, arghh!
     
  10. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

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    The worst personality test I ever had to take during an interview asked multiple times if I regretted my first sexual experience and about how I act when I drink.

    Really weirded me out.
     
  11. Shanoo

    Shanoo Habitué

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    They can ask you those kinds of questions during an interview? I think I would have declined to answer.
     
  12. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    I never know how to answer those, either.
    One way, it can be positive. For example, eating together. They share common characteristics and relate to each other. Others will view it as segregating. I hate those questions!

    Teachart- I hate that one, too!
     
  13. engineerkyle

    engineerkyle Companion

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    Yes, we all hate them,

    But how to answer to get a good score?

    Going all neutral does not help, I've been told.
     
  14. engineerkyle

    engineerkyle Companion

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    Oh, I should thank everyone for the replies.

    For the record, I answered what I believe to be true. People of the same background do sit together at lunch, A student's background should not be discussed too much with co-workers, and yes, I think a person's culture does affect their ability to learn.
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2013
  15. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    I always hated that entire test. Only a few districts around here use it though (most use teacher insight). I know I "passed" because I've gotten interviews in the districts that use it, but I honestly can't remember exactly how I answered. I think I said "disagree" to all three, but I don't remember exactly.

    I remember posting my first year here about how students in our cafeteria only sat with other students of their culture. My first year at the school we were 90% hispanic and 10% white. There didn't really seem to be much "segregation" in that setting. My second year, a local charter closed and we got all of those kids back, making our population closer to 50/50. We noticed a huge difference in how the kids acted- students who had been friends the previous year started sitting only at the "white" or "Mexican" table. One of the white kids had tried to sit with his friends from the previous year and they told him the table was "for Mexicans only." I found the whole thing unsettling, but the vast majority of people here told me it was natural for students to segregate themselves like that.
     
  16. microbe

    microbe Comrade

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    Jun 14, 2013

    As much as I hate to say it, a person's culture does affect their learning. One of my college courses was specifically devoted to that fact and while it was extremely uncomfortable, I feel that it was vital to learn. As teachers we need to be aware of these things so we can help students learn in spite of potential obstacles, regardless of what those obstacles may be.

    (I don't mean to offend, I apologize if I did.)

    And you answered those questions great in my opinion, engineerkyle. You should always answer these questions in an detached and knowledgeable manner. (Though we're assuming the test writer is educated in the material, which is something I always worry about with touchy questions like this.)
     
  17. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    I would have ended the interview at that point.
     
  18. Go Blue!

    Go Blue! Connoisseur

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    Oct 2, 2013

    This.

    In my district, we are always having PDs about how our students' backgrounds, poverty levels, home lives and cultural norms affect the how they learn and behave. Furthermore, these things also affect how parents interact with the school and should be kept in mind when interacting with our kids and their parents.
     
  19. Kat53

    Kat53 Devotee

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    How so?
     
  20. Kat53

    Kat53 Devotee

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    I think the intent of the question is geared towards "ability to learn", which is different in my mind than the reality of what we see in many of our students living in poverty, single parent homes,etc.

    I would have answered strongly disagree based on the word ability.
     
  21. Go Blue!

    Go Blue! Connoisseur

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    In some places, the cultural norms students learn at home or in the streets are the opposite of the school norms and behaviors that make them successful. For many students, it is hard to turn off how they act out of school when they are in school.

    For example, my students are often loud and can be verbally aggressive and argumentative over "small things" and basic directions. This is a cultural norm based on where they come from. I've had parents tell me that their child is just loud because they (the parent) is also loud and everyone in their family is loud - that's just how things are at home. For some students, being aggressive is the only form of response they know when they want to defend themselves regardless of the situation.
     
  22. Kat53

    Kat53 Devotee

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    I get that, I've worked in high povert schools almost my whole career. Again, I go back to the word ability. For the tests purposes, what they are trying to figure out is if you believe that all students have the ability to learn at high levels, regardless of circumstances.
    I don't know 100%, but I am pretty sure based on my past experiences with this type of test (and some insider information) that the intent of the question is what I described above. Of course you should be honest, but would you (as in any job seeker) really want to answer that culture affects the ability to learn?
     
  23. Kat53

    Kat53 Devotee

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    And for the record, I absolutely hate these types of tests. I overthink everything.
     
  24. Go Blue!

    Go Blue! Connoisseur

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    I get what you're saying. I would give whatever answer I thought the interviewer wanted.
     
  25. HorseLover

    HorseLover Comrade

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    I didn't like this type of test either! I felt like some of my answers needed explaining especially when the questions weren't super clear as to what they meant by what they said. Just like this question about culture affecting learning could be taken in a couple different ways.
     
  26. microbe

    microbe Comrade

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    I'm not entirely comfortable with how they worded the statement. That said, the wording "a student's cultural background affects their ability to learn" draws me more to the word "affect" than "ability." Kind of like how a broken leg would affect my ability to run - pardon the terrible analogy.

    But, I see what you mean. I'm thinking of ability defined as "being able to do something" when they probably meant ability as "skill or talent."
     
  27. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Clearly the issue is the word "ability." There's no question that culture affects learning. The question is whether it affects "ability," which is a poor choice of words because "ability" generally refers to innate potential to perform a task, and is often equated or associated with IQ. So, those of us with certain educational backgrounds may read that question as, "Does culture affect IQ?" That's definitely a very different question that is loaded. A fair question, but a much more difficult one to answer accurately than, "Does culture affect a child's educational experience?"
     

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