Book Reviews

Book by: Margery B. Ginsberg and Raymond J. Wlodkowski
Review by: Gerasimos Kokkinos
Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development
New York University


Diversity & Motivation: Culturally Responsive Teaching in College offers both higher education practitioners and educators a guide to understanding the changing landscape of postsecondary instruction. Learning is achieved through successful interactions between instructors and students, but culture plays an integral role in this process. According to the text, “the convergence of multiple and, at times, far-ranging perspectives among students contributes to a binary classroom dynamic with chaotic or laissez-faire exchanges, on the one hand, and majority cultural dominance on the other.” (p. 5). A college classroom has become a culturally diverse setting where different perspectives challenge various teaching practices.

Advisors can use this text as a resource, specifically the motivational framework for culturally responsive teaching (p. 34), when discussing the academic experiences of their prospective students. Ginsberg and Woldkowski offer four conditions that need to be met for teachers and learners to succeed together in the classroom, which included: establishing inclusion, developing attitude, enhancing meaning, and engendering competence (p. 35). Each of these conditions is a motivational goal, encompassing a teaching practice that can be integrated into a postsecondary educational setting. The underlying themes of these learning conditions involve college students’ process of self-reflection and promoting group interaction. In order to understand and accept cultural differences, the physical attributes of others must come secondary to the understanding of customs, language, lifestyles and traditions for other groups of people.

In the literature, a thorough comparison is explored between conventional teaching methods and those that are culturally diverse. Teaching that takes into account contrasting cultures and diversity of the student population requires more complex planning and takes into account goal setting for learning outcomes. Achieving success in the classroom, measuring how a learner will measure their progression towards success and understanding why a goal is important to a learner are just some methods of goal setting (p. 151). Learners need guidance and support from educators, while also paving their own path to student success. Learning contracts serving as accommodations for adult learners are proven effective by the authors, claiming that learners are self-advocating, identifying learning interests and learning how to self-assess their growth (p. 153). If a learner cannot fit what they learn in their cultural framework, it will be difficult to transfer or use the knowledge and apply it to real world situations.

By drawing references to Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences, the text ties in an important analysis regarding learning. According to Gardner, human beings are capable of at least nine different ways of interpreting and knowing the world, which draws comparison to the overall significance of this literature’s publication (p. 161). Learners have different styles, as do educators. Education needs to escape the “one way fits all” perspective and take into account how cultural backgrounds and experiences affect the impact of the curriculum. Self-generated knowledge is one example, using questions such as who speaks in class and who achieves the highest grades as measures of how culturally responsive teaching is (p. 367).

This book offers various topics of discussions for educators to consider and incorporate when creating curriculum for postsecondary classrooms. Academic advisors need to understand what their students are up against and how to better serve as a resource when academic struggles come about. Diversity & Motivation serves multiple purposes in a time where the college classroom has become more diverse and dynamic than ever.


Diversity & Motivation: Culturally Responsive Teaching in College. (2009). Book by Margery B. Ginsberg and Raymond J.Wlodkowski. Review by Gerasimos Kokkinos, Wiley. 464 pp., $48.00, (Hardback), ISBN #978-0-7879-9611-6

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