Dr. Whitaker’s research examines preservice teachers’ beliefs about, and perceptions of, the 50% of public school students who identify as Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CLD). She is also interested in the stability of teachers’ belief systems across time and settings; thus, she studies how beliefs can be intentionally disrupted and re-structured through teacher training.


Teachers’ Motivation to Teach Diverse Learners

This project examines how explicit teacher training around issues of diversity influences preservice teachers’ interest and confidence in teaching culturally and linguistically diverse students.

Dispositions for Culturally Responsive Pedagogy

This line of inquiry investigates teachers’ attitudes, values and beliefs related to culturally responsive pedagogy. We are currently using the Dispositions for Culturally Responsive Pedagogy Scale as a tool for teacher preparation program evaluation, for reflective course design, and for in-service professional development.

Teachers’ Multicultural Beliefs and Practices

Using a mixed-method approach of surveys, interviews and focus groups, we are examining 13 diversity constructs, including teachers’ perception of diverse students, their multicultural teaching efficacy, their racial attitudes, and their racial identity development. This longitudinal study follows teachers into the first three years of professional practice to identify how their multicultural beliefs and teaching practices change across time and in different educational contexts.