Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


Date of this Version



Published in Teachers College Record, Volume 124, Number 2 (2022).


Copyright 2022 Teachers College, Columbia University. Used by permission.


Context: Proposed more than two decades ago, culturally relevant/responsive teaching or pedagogy (CRP) is one promising approach to transform education experiences of historically marginalized groups. The development of CRP has since inspired changes in teacher education programs and resulted in considerable research on preparing teachers for CRP. However, critics have argued that much work on CRP has not fulfilled its transformative potential of addressing racism and the white-supremacist foundations underlying teacher education research and practice, and have urged CRP research to grow from the existing knowledge base and to innovate.

Purpose of Study: This study critically examines the research practices of empirical studies on preparing K–12 pre-service teachers for CRP in the United States by merging ideas of research as social practice with critical race theory, critical whiteness studies, and Indigenous epistemologies to argue for research as racialized social practice. The goal is to provide perspectives and lines of research that are true to the radical shifts the original theories called for, yet might not have been fully fulfilled.

Research Design: This critical literature review applies the research-as-racialized-social-practice lens to examine how CRP research studies frame problems and research questions, elaborate theoretical frameworks and research methodology, and discuss findings and implications. Our analysis positions CRP research on the research-as-racialized-social-practice continuum, ranging from maintaining the racist status quo to intentionally disrupting it.

Findings: Our analysis reveals that dominant research practices—emphasizing the problem of individual deficiencies rather than inequitable systems, employing a research logic focusing on linearity rather than complexity, and lacking in-depth examination of racialized and cultural ways of knowing for both researchers and participants—maintain the inequitable status quo rather than disrupting taken-for-granted assumptions and practices. While we recognize the important work and useful knowledge accumulated by this body of literature over two decades, we urge teacher educators and researchers to stay vigilant and resist research epistemologies and practices that recenter, recycle, and maintain whiteness, perpetuating the racist status quo.

Conclusions: We recommend that teacher education researchers can construct research questions capable of generating new knowledge to disrupt racial injustice; utilize and further develop critical theoretical frameworks that sufficiently attend to various aspects of race and racism in teaching, learning, and society, and are meaningfully linked to disruptive research methodologies; and, finally, attend clearly to the ability of research to disrupt the racist status quo within their findings and implications.