Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Education and International Services


Curriculum and Instruction PhD

First Advisor

Elvin Gabriel

Second Advisor

Tevni Grajales

Third Advisor

Larry Burton



Teachers and students often come from different cultural backgrounds, so classrooms are increasingly becoming the venue where interactions, if not appropriately managed, will produce a social climate not conducive to learning. The present study seeks to determine to what extent teacher cultural competence impacts student perception of the classroom social environment.


The Teacher Multicultural Attitudes Survey was used to quantify teachers’ cultural competence and a Social Classroom Climate Measure was used to gather scores on the four key factors of the social climate. Hierarchical Linear Modelling was used to assess the influence of teacher cultural competence and several demographic variables on student perception of the classroom social environment.


Several demographic variables were shown to impact students’ perception of the classroom social climate. The teacher’s reported level of cultural competence, however, was not shown to be a predictor of students’ perception of classroom social climate.


The results of this study highlight the possibility of two major issues. First, students’ perceptions of the classroom social climate are affected by particular student characteristics, in this case, grade-level and ethnicity. This outcome lends support to the push to place students at the center of learning and pedagogical decisions. Second, it is difficult to differentiate between the effects of cultural competence and good teaching. Hence, it is important for teachers to rigorously engage in high-quality pedagogical strategies in an effort to produce instruction that addresses the ways in which all students learn best. This concept is at the heart of cultural competency, which requires teachers to have the knowledge and skills to successfully teach all students.

Subject Area

Multicultural education; Culturally relevant pedagogy; Cultural competence; Teaching--Methodology; Effective teaching; Classroom environment