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BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

In all learning environments, individuals interact with others who are in some ways

different from them (Lucas & Corpuz, 2007). These differences may range from the physical,

intellectual and social aspects of every individual belonging in that environment. They may be

rich or poor, male, female, or maybe identify themselves as part of the third sex. They may even

differ on the language they primarily speak, on their culture and on their ethnicity. Some may

even learn better by seeing something and others just by listening. In a Philippine educational

system different ethnic groups can be found inside the classroom, these include Catholics,

Muslim, Buddhist, Protestants, animist, Chinese, Mestizos and native Filipinos. (Mitchell &

Salsbury, 1999)

The diversity of these individuals, both the student and the teacher, also showcases

diverse response or attitude from them to the dynamics of the learning environment. It influences

how the students interact towards his or her classmate and towards the teacher. In an observation

made by Petruskevich (1997), she noticed that Japanese male and female students did not

participate equally in mixed-sex classroom. Male students were more active compared to female

students in a mixed-sex classroom. However, female participation is more evident in an all-

female class. The response towards diversity is not only limited to the student but also towards

the teacher. According to Lucas and Corpus (2007) some teachers might see this diversity as a

predicament and troublesome yet other may see it as an exciting place to learn not just for her

students but for herself as well.

The differences in the response and attitude of each individual towards the diversity of

their learning environment merits negative effects towards them. In a study led by Roksa (2017)
he finds that diversity leads to negative experience that can impair student learning and cognitive

development. Cooper and Holmes (2004) stated in their study that teacher and students may have

problems in communication due to the unfamiliarity of the student towards his environment.

Students may not find their sense of belongingness towards the class and will be reluctant to

participate. These differences in participation of the students may lead to unequal learning

opportunities (Allwright,1984)

Due to this factors, it is advantageous for the institution or for the teacher to determine

these differences in attitude before-hand so that they may know how to address and approach the

diversities and provide equal opportunity for learning. Sleeter (1988) noted that addressing

diversity is an attempt to raise the academic achievement of the students. It must also be a

prerogative of the school to encourage the full development of the students regardless of the

diverse racial, ethnic and gender group of the student. (Banks, 1989)

Thus, this study is conducted aiming to determine the differences in attitude of students

and teachers towards the diversity of their learning environment of first year English major

students at the University of Mindanao. It seeks to examine how these students interact towards

his or fellow student and towards the teacher.

The study sample focuses on first year students’ learning environments for they are an

ideal location to observe differences towards diversity. First year students in the University of

Mindanao are in the stage of getting to know each other thus creating an unfamiliar environment

for each student and for the teacher. Consequently this study would help the institution in

recognizing these differences upon entry level of students in the university and leads to

formulation of different approaches addressing the complex dynamics of these environments.