“It’s Not My Immediate Instinct”: Perceptions of Preservice Teachers on the Integration of Popular Culture

Melinda S. Butler
University of Southern Maine

Nadine Bravo
University of Southern Maine

Eva S. Arbor
University of Southern Maine


Popular culture curricula integration provides educational benefits for students (Morrell, 2002; Petrone, 2013); bridging students’ out-of-school popular culture knowledge with their in-school literacies promotes learning, engages students, and values students’ background knowledge (Dyson, 1993, 2021; Marsh, 2006; Morrell, 2002; Petrone, 2013). Therefore, teacher educators may consider the addition of popular culture education into preservice teacher’s preparation for teaching (Petrone, 2013). In this qualitative study, researchers were interested in asking the following questions: What popular culture texts did preservice teachers consume as children and adults? and How does preservice teachers’ previous popular culture text consumption factor into decisions to include or exclude popular culture texts in the curriculum?  Preservice teachers in a graduate teacher education program participated in surveys and interviews about their popular culture text consumption (e.g., podcasts, television shows) as children and adults. Additionally, participants were questioned about the affordances and constraints of integrating popular culture texts into the curriculum. Data were coded using In Vivo coding (Saldańa, 2013), and analyzed through a sociocultural lens (Vygotsky, 1978). Themes that were generated from the findings were: 1) popular culture text consumption as both social and shared; 2) popular culture text integration as a way to entice and engage students in learning; 3) popular culture texts as engaging and relatable; 4) popular culture as digital texts; and 5) popular culture texts as unknown or unimportant. Although all participants spoke about the benefits of popular culture text integration, the preservice teachers who consumed more of them as children and adults spoke more favorably about including popular culture texts in curricula.

Keywords: Literacy/reading; preservice teacher education; qualitative research; popular culture

Author Bios

Melinda S. Butler, Ed.D, is an assistant professor of literacy in the Department of Literacy, Language, and Culture at the University of Southern Maine and the Director of the USM Summer Reading and Writing Workshop. Her research interests include popular culture texts, student access to texts, literacy clinics, and independent reading.   

Nadine Bravo is a multilingual and multicultural second-year graduate student at the University of Southern Maine, pursuing two M.Ed. (ETEP and TESOL) and a Graduate Studies Certificate in Native American Studies at Montana State University. Her research interests revolve around the literacy of Native American English Language Learners.

Eva Arbor is finishing up her Master’s in Policy, Planning, and Management with the University of Southern Maine in hopes of one day opening a non-profit in Bangor, Maine, where she is originally from. Her interests are centered around advocacy, family planning, and access to mental health resources for marginalized individuals.

Suggested Citation


Butler, M.S., Bravo. N., & Arbor E.S. (2022). “It’s not my immediate instinct”: Perceptions of pre-service teachers on the integration of popular culture. Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy, 9(4), http://journaldialogue.org/issues/v9-issue-4/its-not-my-immediate-instinct-perceptions-of-preservice-teachers-on-the-integration-of-popular-culture/


Butler, Melinda, et al. ““It’s not my immediate instinct”: Perceptions of pre-service teachers on the integration of popular culture.” Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy, vol. 9, no. 4, http://journaldialogue.org/issues/v9-issue-4/its-not-my-immediate-instinct-perceptions-of-preservice-teachers-on-the-integration-of-popular-culture/

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