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Intercultural and Classroom Culture (ICC) Research Lab



The purpose of the Intercultural and Classroom Culture (ICC) research lab is to uncover how the daily life of the early childhood classroom is guided by shared routines, rituals, norms, values, and beliefs. This includes examining how teachers and children socially construct a peer and school culture as they act and react to one another. This also includes understanding how power, language, and ideologies influence the subject positions of children, families, and teachers. Moreover, the ICC research lab aims to explore teacher candidates’ (i.e., preservice teachers) understanding and development of intercultural competence. Intercultural competence is the willingness and ability to respond effectively with young children and families whose backgrounds, ways of thinking, communicating, and behaving are significantly different from the teacher candidates’ norms (Cushner, 2018).

Objectives of the ICC

The objectives of the ICC are to provoke questions that will challenge normative assumptions about children, families, and teachers in various social and cultural contexts.  Such questions would include the following: 

• What role do teacher preparation programs have in enhancing the intercultural competence of teacher candidates?
• How can we create college curricula that will prepare interculturally competent teacher candidates?
• How can we produce pedagogies that are grounded in contextually appropriate practices and indigenous ways of knowing, feeling, and being in classroom spaces?
• How are peer and school cultures grounded in micro and macro level discourses of childhood and teaching?
• Who has the power to create and change the local and global discourses about early childhood education?
• How can we produce and sustain culturally relevant and inclusive classroom spaces?

Current Graduate Students


Mandeep Singh Brar, MS Student

Mandeep (MANDY) is an international student from Punjab (India) with a strong background in Sociology & Education. His research interests revolve around abuse (at homes or in schools), the relationship between the abuser & the abused, childhood memories & related trauma, and the like. He works as a Graduate Research/Teaching Assistant at the “Intercultural and Classroom Culture Lab” under the supervision of Dr. Samara Madrid Akpovo and is the lead GRA for COLAB


Nagham Abou Zeid, MS Student

Nagham is an international student and Fulbright Foreign Scholar from Lebanon. She holds a B.A. in Psychology from the Lebanese American University. She works as a Teaching and Research Assistant in the Intercultural and Classroom Culture Lab under the supervision of Dr. Samara Madrid Akpovo. Nagham’s research interests are centered around prenatal, infancy, and early childhood development throughout adverse environments, especially poverty, and how that affects early onset behavioral disorders, social development, and mental health.

Selected Publications

(*Denotes graduate student or teacher practitioner)

Madrid Akpovo, S., *Neessen, S., Nganga, L., & *Sorrells, C. (in press). Staying with discomfort: Early childhood teachers’ emotional themes to children’s peer culture aggression. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood.

Arndt, S., Madrid Akpovo, S., Tesar, M., Han, T. K., *Huang, F. & *Halladay, M. (2021). Collaborative Online Learning Across Borders (COLAB): Examining the intercultural understandings of preservice-teachers’ using a virtual cross-cultural university-based program. Journal of Research in Childhood Education. DOI: 10.1080/02568543.2021.1880994 

Thapa, S., & Madrid Akpovo, S. (2020). Cultural humility in an intercultural mentor-mentee relationship: Overcoming Emotional “borders and borderlands” of Nepal-mentors and US-mentees. Asia Pacific Journal of Education. DOI/pdf/10.1080/02188791.2020.1848798?needAccess=true

Lash, M., Madrid Akpovo, S. & Cushner, K. (2020). Developing the intercultural competency of early childhood preservice teachers: Preparing teachers for diverse classrooms. Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education. 

Nganga, L., Madrid Akpovo, S., Thapa, S., & *Mwangi, A. (2020). How neocolonialism and globalization affect the early childhood workforce in Nepal and Kenya. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, DOI: 10.1177/1463949120929471

Kambutu, J., Madrid Akpovo, S., Nganga, L., Thapa, S., & *Mwangi, A. (2020). Privatization of early childhood education (ECE): Implications for social justice in Kenya and Nepal. Policy Futures in Education, DOI:10.1177/1478210320922111

Madrid Akpovo, S., Thapa, S., & *Halladay, M. (2020). Learning to see teaching as a cultural activity: US preservice-teachers’ significant experiences with Nepali mentor-teachers during an international field experience. Journal of Research in Childhood Education,34(1), 59-7, DOI: 10.1080/02568543.2019.1692107 

Nganga, L., Madrid Akpovo, S., & Kambutu, J. (2020). Culturally inclusive and contextually appropriate practices: Rethinking perspectives, practices, polices, and experiences in early childhood education programs. Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 34(1), 2-5, DOI: 10.1080/02568543.2019.1697153

Madrid Akpovo, S., & Nganga, L. (2018). Minority-World professionals in majority-world contexts: How do international field experiences promote intercultural competence or reinforce ethnocentrism? Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood,19(2), 1-7. DOI: 10.1177/1463949118778024


Madrid Akpovo, S., Nganga, L., & *Acharya, D. (2018). Minority-World preservice teachers’ understanding of contextually appropriate practice while working in Majority-World communities. Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 32(2), 202-218. DOI: 10.1080/02568543.2017.1419321

Madrid Akpovo, S. (2017). Uncovering cultural assumptions: The use of a critical incident technique during an international student-teaching field experience. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, DOI: 10.1177/1463949117747108


Madrid Akpovo, S., Moran, M.J., Brookshire, R. (Eds) (2018). Collaborative cross-cultural research methodologies in early care and education contexts. New York, NY: Routledge Press.

Madrid, S., Fernie, D., & Kantor, R. (Eds). (2015). Reframing the emotional worlds of the early childhood classroom. New York, NY: Routledge Press.

Fernie, D., Madrid, S., & Kantor, R. (Eds). (2011). Educating toddlers to teachers:  Learning to see and influence the school and peer cultures of classrooms. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press.