Preparing Teacher Candidates for Diverse Learners

Are We Doing Enough?


  • Melissa Spence Cal Lutheran University
  • Tymika Wesley Cal Lutheran University


Research on the academic achievement of K-12 students indicates that diverse students and students with exceptionalities face barriers to a quality education (Ladson-Billings, 2006). Responsibility falls to teacher preparation programs to ensure teacher candidates are prepared to engage diverse learners. We examine the literature regarding culturally responsive practices and teacher-efficacy in implementation. We further consider how a teacher preparation program assesses candidates’ ability to design instructional environments for diverse learners.

Author Biographies

Melissa Spence, Cal Lutheran University

Dr. Spence is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Learning and Teaching in the Graduate School of Education. She has 13 years of professional experience working with individuals with autism with 10 of those years spent with the Los Angeles Unified School District. Dr. Spence’s research focuses on promoting the instructional efficacy for non-verbal students with autism and helping teachers implement evidence-based practice within their classrooms. Dr. Spence teaches courses on assessment, IEP development, instructional strategies, and non-academic supports. She has been recognized by the DADD division of CEC for the Tom E.C. Smith Early Career Award and Best Practitioner Research.

Tymika Wesley, Cal Lutheran University

Dr. Tymika Wesley is an Assistant Professor at California Lutheran University. Dr. Wesley teaches coursesin the Department of Learning and Teaching on instructional design and culturally and linguistically diverse K-12 student populations. Dr. Wesley’s research focuses on creating effective learning environments for students from historically non-dominant communities, K-12 teacher performance and effectiveness, culturally relevant pedagogical practices, and cultural proficiency in teacher preparation programs.​ Dr. Wesley’s work around cultural proficiency is important because it addresses both individual and systemic impacts on K-12 student populations that are often under-addressed in educational research.




How to Cite

Spence, M., & Wesley, T. (2019). Preparing Teacher Candidates for Diverse Learners: Are We Doing Enough?. Allies for Education, 2(2). Retrieved from



Problems in Education: Making Good Use of Legislation, Policy, and Research