Date of Award:

5-2004

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

School of Teacher Education and Leadership

Committee Chair(s)

Deborah Byrnes

Committee

Deborah Byrnes

Committee

Timothy Slocum

Committee

Gary Kiger

Committee

Leigh Monhardt

Committee

Martha Whitaker

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine the attitudes of preservice teachers towards human rights, particularly about human rights related to labor. To assess their attitudes of human rights and unfair labor conditions, two types of presentations, (a) docudrama and discussion, and (b) lecture and discussion, were conducted. The researcher evaluated these teaching methods on their efficacy in creating an awareness of human-rights violations and labor conditions. Additionally, the participants were exposed to two types of invitations to engage in human-rights advocacy.

The study involved elementary preservice teachers and secondary preservice teachers typically at the junior undergraduate level. There were 118 participants who attended the treatment and control group and completed the surveys. The study utilized mixed methods, combining quantitative and qualitative data. Surveys addressed general human-rights attitude and advocacy along with attitudes towards labor conditions in the United States and all over the world. Posttest interviews were conducted with six participants to gain additional insights on their attitudes towards human rights and labor conditions. Descriptive statistics were used to report the means and standard deviations of the pretest and posttest scores of participants. Inferential statistics were conducted in order to determine the effectiveness of the methods used for the treatment groups compared to the control group.

Findings suggest that participants had small gains in knowledge and general attitudes towards human rights after being exposed to the treatments. However, the treatments were not effective in creating a positive significant impact on attitudes towards human rights and labor conditions or actions towards unfair labor conditions. Interviewees acknowledged poor activism on human-rights issues in the United States and felt that educating their students about these issues when they became teachers might create a change. They emphasized the relationship of knowledge about human-rights abuses to taking action on human-rights issues.

This study suggests that if schools and colleges have a role in preparing students for compassionate citizenship in a global economy, then there is a clear need for teacher educators to help develop better informed teachers regarding human rights.

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