Honors Students Delve into Issues of Diversity in Teaching as Part of Summer Research Team

Education is a diverse field that serves students from all cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. So, it makes sense that finding ways to attract a more diverse pool of teachers to the field of education in the Palmetto State and beyond is critical to supporting students and ensuring equitable methods of learning.

That’s why Tracey Hunter-Doniger, an associate professor in the College of Charleston’s Department of Teacher Education, enlisted six students representing different education majors to serve on a summer research team tasked with studying challenges with teacher shortages, existing teacher education recruitment programs and ways to attract more diverse students to join the teaching field covering gender, race, religion and LGBTQ+ in South Carolina and in the United States. The students on the research team included Honors College students Isabel “Izzy” Smith, special education, and Jay Scott, middle grades education, along with Hannah Baker, dance and secondary education with a history focus; Dennis Wright, physical education teacher education; Olivia Ladines, secondary education with a social studies focus; and Kinandah Williams, elementary education. Both Smith and Scott are Honors College students.

“As a minority student at a PWI (predominantly white institution), as well as a future educator, I am always looking for ways to increase diversity, and this project allowed my peers and me to dive into research, finding the issues within education that are causing the lack of diversity in teaching,” says Williams. “It was interesting to see the statistics behind the education major and the demographics of teachers across the United States and the world. Diversity in teaching isn’t just a problem in the U.S., but rather a global issue. Being able to possibly lend a hand and be a part of the solution was what appealed most to me and why I enjoyed conducting the research.”

Hunter-Doniger’s research team was part of the Center for Partnerships to Improve Education’s (CPIE) Summer Research Employment program, which provides students the opportunity to gain research skills under the mentorship of faculty from the School of Education, Health, and Human Performance (EHHP). To make the opportunity viable for all students, CPIE provides a stipend throughout the program. Since 2017, a total of 64 students have participated in the program. The 2021 summer session proved to be a banner year with 14 faculty/staff mentoring 24 students on 16 research projects.

To read more about this story, check out the full article by Darcie Goodwin at The College Today. Photo by Heather Moran.

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