“I Don’t See Color”: The Impact of Field Placements on Preservice Teachers’ White Racial Identity Development

  •  Carolyn Groff    
  •  Terri Peters    


The purpose of this mixed-method study was to examine the influence of diverse field placements on the White
racial identity development of White preservice teachers (n = 92) placed in schools where the student body was
either predominantly White or students of color. Using Helms’s theory (1995) of White racial identity
development, we selected instruments that measured participants’ awareness of racism, as well as their
consciousness about being White (e.g., Color-Blind Racial Attitude Scale and Psychosocial Costs of Racism to
Whites Scale). Preservice teachers in nondiverse settings became less aware of racial issues at the end of the
field experience. Using pretest scores as covariates, an analysis of covariance indicated that those in more
diverse settings had higher levels of White guilt at the end of their field experience. The qualitative results also
showed differences in perceptions based on field placements, thus supporting the quantitative findings.
Participants were asked how the diversity in their fieldwork placement affected their thoughts about their own
ethnic background and social status. For those placed in diverse settings, the most common theme that emerged
was the contrast between the characteristics of the students and one’s own family and personal characteristics
(e.g., wealth, ethnicity). The results suggest that more than exposure to diverse students is needed to evoke
changes in White racial identity in order to prepare preservice teachers to effectively teach students of color.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
  • ISSN(Print): 1927-0526
  • ISSN(Online): 1927-0534
  • Started: 2011
  • Frequency: semiannual

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