Transormations Magazine - Spring 2014 - page 19

The researchproject detailedherewas
promptedby theunique challenge
IUSoutheast students faceasour
diversity statistics reflect anacutely
mono-cultural (homogeneous)
environment in comparison to
national statistics;Whitesmakeup
almost 86%of theundergraduate
student population,withBlacks/
African-Americans (6%),Hispanic/
Latinos (2.3%),Asians (1.4%) trailing
farbehind.
These statisticshave significant
consequences, primarily in terms
of adjustment todifferences, as
successful interactions areassociated
with theability toeffectively
navigate cultural ambiguities and
display cultural flexibilityaswell as
ethnorelativism.
Cultural insensitivityhasbeen
reportedas themain culprit of
failed international negotiations and
health-care services. Employers
andeducators recognize that study
abroad canhelp foster someof the
attributes associatedwith successful
international interactions. Shockingly,
on the IUSoutheast campus, the
number of studentsparticipating
in studyabroadprograms
oscillatesbetween24-70, out of
theapproximately6900 students
enrolled. Semester-longoptions tend
tobefinanciallyunaffordable for the
students anddonot accommodate
theirworkand family responsibilities.
Fortunately, the three-week, faculty-
ledprogramsofferedby IUSoutheast
aremoreaccessibleandaffordable
for our student population.Although
theneed to incorporate cultural
components into the curriculum
has longbeenacknowledged,
very littleworkhasbeendone to
assess the impact of systematic
cultural “exposure”on the cultural
preparednessof “main-stream”
college students.
Myfirst project objectivewas
todetermine ifmain-stream
undergraduate students enrolled
inmyPsychologyandCultures
coursewould increase their cultural
competence (“theability to think
andact inanappropriateway inan
intercultural context”,Wang, 2013)
followinga semester of didactic
instruction, reflectiveactivities,
variouspresentations (video clips,
guest speakers, etc..) andfield trips
geared toward thediscoveryof
culturalmores andpractices.
My results indicateda significant
reduction inethnocentrism, as
measuredby theGENE scale, by
theendof semester.Thus students’
tendency touse their ownworldview
as the standard toevaluateother
cultureswas significantly less
prevalent followingexposure to the
course.
The secondobjectiveof thisproject
was todetermine theend-of-semester
global cultural competenceof the
studentsusing theMulticultural
Awareness,Knowledge, and
SkillsSurvey (MAKSS) and the
InterculturalDevelopment Inventory
(IDI), developedbyHammer
(2011) andbasedonBennett’s
DevelopmentalModel of Intercultural
Sensitivity (DMIS). In comparison
to freshmen, the scoresof students
enrolled in thePsychologyand
Cultures course showedgreater
intercultural performanceon the
Awareness andKnowledge sub-scales
of theMAKSS.The students’ scores
on the IDI revealed that, as agroup,
theywere in theMinimization stage
of thedevelopment continuum (DO)
illustrating increasing sensitivity
toward cultures (Endicott,Bock,&
Narvaez, 2003).
This transitionalworldviewallows
individuals tobridgeacross cultures
by focusingon commonalities, but
lacks thedepthallowing them to
understandandadapt to cultural
differences.
Overall, thisproject demonstrated
that a coursedirectly focusingon the
development of cultural competence
effectivelydecreases ethnocentrism
and intercultural anxiety, increases
awarenessof commonality, andhelps
studentsmove from less complex to
more complexperceptionsof cultural
diversity.
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