Measuring preservice teachers’ ethnocentrism: A South African case study

  • Joyce West University of Pretoria
  • Rinelle Evans University of Pretoria
  • Joyce Jordaan University of Pretoria
Keywords: ethnicity, ethnocentrism, pre-service teacher, mono-ethnic, teacher education


The 21st century can be marked by growing ethnocentrism. Ethnocentrism in education could have detrimental effects on classroom practices and learner performance. With a quantitative, institutional case study research design and positivist paradigm, this study used the Generalised Ethnocentrism survey to measure 1164 preservice teachers’ ethnocentrism at a private higher education institution. The Generalised Ethnocentrism survey consists of 22 statements about ethnicity. Preservice teachers who attended multicultural schools scored significantly lower on the ethnocentrism scale than those who attended mono-ethnic schools. Preservice teachers’ beliefs about ethnicity-in-education issues could be an indication of their degree of ethnocentrism. High degrees of ethnocentrism could indicate intolerance towards diversity within the classroom which if left unaddressed, could affect learner performance and further hinder transformation in classrooms. This study also discusses how ethnocentrism should be measured and addressed within teacher education programmes in order to cultivate preservice teachers who are able to critically reflect on their own ethnocentrism and act as agents of change.

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