This study compared changes in the intercultural competency of two groups of undergraduate students in several sections of a course, Human Relations in a Multicultural Society. The hypothesis for this study was that the intentional, cross-cultural experiences of students have an impact on the cultural competency of each student. The course in this study was designed as a response to the increasingly diverse population in the United States in terms of race, ethnicity, and culture. Diversity may also refer to behaviors, gender identity, and sexual orientation (IMDiversity, 2010). This course is taught each semester at a Midwestern public university. The course design provides: Interact with individuals from diverse populations outside the classroom and reflect on such interactions. Demonstrate basic knowledge and understanding of diversity related concepts so that the experience has meaning and context. Analyzing and responding to conditions of marginalized populations. For this study, the population included 150 undergraduate students, between 18 and 35 years old, who voluntarily enrolled. A convenience sample of 70 students registered for 2 sections during fall 2010; 85 students registered for 4 sections during fall 2011. Data was analyzed for participants who completed both the pre-test and post-test during fall 2010 (48) and fall 2011 (80). Research subjects represented students in academic majors such elementary education, social work, and journalism. In the fall semester, 2010, each student completed: A minimum of 18 hours service learning at an agency with persons of a culture different than that of the students. A team research project resulting in a presentation about a culture different than that of the students. Several self-reflection papers about temperament and course experience. In the fall semester, 2011, the team projects were eliminated. Instead, each student completed a minimum of 9 hours of cultural partnership with a person of a culture different than that of the students. Other requirements, such as service learning and self-reflection papers were continued. The theoretical basis of the study was the Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity (DMIS) (Bennett, 1998). The Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) (Hammer and Bennett, 1998 and 2001) was used as a measure of cultural competency. The IDI was completed by subjects at the beginning and at the conclusion of the fall 2010 and the fall 2011 semesters. This provided a process to compare pre-instruction and post-instruction scores for each semester. Data were analyzed to identify the cultural orientation of each student among five stages of the DMIS: Denial, Defense, Minimization, Acceptance, and Adaption. Researchers expect that subjects in fall 2011 will show positive gains in overall intercultural sensitivity due to the experience of a cultural partnership, when compared to the subjects in fall 2010.
McNabb, C., Tupy, S., Koenig, E., & Leidall, S. (2012, March). Impact of a cultural partnership on the cultural orientation of undergraduates. Presented at the 2012 National Conference on Undergraduate Research, University of North Carolina at Asheville.
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