Using rap to promote culturally relevant content area instruction




Kumar, Tracey

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Over the last fifteen years, numerous studies have examined the use of rap music as an instructional text in middle and high school classrooms. These studies have shown that rap may be instrumental in bridging home and school cultures, engaging students, and promoting the development of academic and critical literacies. Despite the potential benefits of using rap in K-12 educational settings, few studies have addressed the integration of rap into preservice teacher education. By examining the ways in which preservice teachers used rap to design culturally relevant content area instruction, this study sought to extend the existing body of research.

This study was carried out in the college of education at a large Hispanic-serving institution in the Southwestern U.S. Participants included thirteen preservice teachers enrolled in a social studies methods course, and their instructor, a full-time adjunct at the university. The data set for this study included preservice teachers' written reflections on the use of rap, lesson plans they designed for the methods course in which they were enrolled, and semistructured interviews with three of the thirteen participants. To identify the themes, categories, and codes within the data, this study employed both critical content and critical discourse analysis.

Findings from this study suggest that preservice teachers have concerns about the nature and content of rap music. To manage their concerns about rap, preservice teachers would select rap carefully, and avoid content that they regard as offensive. Findings from this study also suggest that preservice teachers' proposed uses of rap reflect a lack of concern for cultural critique, a behaviorist conception of knowledge, and a reinforcement of the binary between popular culture and traditional school-based texts. Lastly, findings from this study suggest that the integration of rap into preservice teacher education may not give rise to changes in preservice teachers' instructional plans.

Findings from this study may be useful for teacher educators who wish to promote the use of popular texts, and for those who wish to incorporate a variety of culturally relevant strategies into their teacher preparation courses. Based on the findings of this study, teacher educators will need to demonstrate the ways in which popular culture and culturally teaching strategies can be used in classroom settings. They will also need to provide teacher candidates with the practice and support needed to successfully integrate popular texts and culturally relevant strategies into their own instruction. However, additional research is needed to investigate how these aims can best be achieved.


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culturally relevant pedagogy, preservice teacher education, rap



Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching