Comparison of Cross-Cultural Course Changes: From Traditional Lecture Course to Contemporary Course with Biblio-Learning, Video-Learning, and Experiential Exercises

Article excerpt

Criticisms of traditional cross-cultural courses were enumerated in the literature. including superficiality and lack of personal learning experiences. Consequently, a traditional cross-cultural class with lecture and texts was compared with a contemporary cross-cultural class incorporating innovations. The traditional class students read several text-type books with cross-cultural theory and description of minority groups in a lecture format. The contemporary class read one textbook and several fiction novels exemplifying minority groups. These books were supplemented with student presentations of videos to exemplify theoretical constructs and experiential exercises. Analyses were performed to assess differences in learning outcomes and course evaluations from course structure. It was determined that though there was not a significant difference for exam one, the contemporary class had higher grades on exam two, and the traditional class had higher grades on exam three. Analysis of course evaluations, found traditional class evaluations to be higher. It was clear that students in the contemporary class were happier reading relevant novels than texts as the traditional class students complained excessively and never expressed interest in the course content. Contemporary students were eager to discuss the readings. Concern is discussed about the extra burden of the video presentations and the comparability of the classes.

As the population is becoming more and more diverse, the need for cross-cultural education is becoming more apparent. There has been a recent move in many fields toward research in this area. This move has been especially apparent in psychology and education. Although the nation's student and client populations are becoming more diverse, educators and therapists remain largely European American and middle class. This has brought about concerns as to whether individuals who are of a different culture or class are receiving equivalent services in these areas.

The field of psychology has not been without its biases and prejudices. Even after becoming aware of these problems, minorities have still been treated unfairly and often misdiagnosed or encouraged to conform to the mainstream society due to racial or cultural differences (Pederson, 2001; Robinson & Morris, 2000).

Professionals are now working toward understanding and changing such a perspective and promoting the appropriate education necessary for working with a diverse clientele (Constantine, 2001: Constantine & Yeh, 2001). Guidelines for training and practice are now being developed to ensure that minority or culturally divergent clients receive effective treatment. School curricula and applied training programs are also beginning to incorporate cross-cultural training into their curricula, but to varying degrees and with varying methods (Loudon. Anderson, Gill, & Greenfield, 1999: Rogers, Hoffman, & Wade. 1998: Webster. 2001).

A review by Kiselica, Maben, and Locke (1999) determined that, despite its flaws, cross-cultural training is effective in lowering prejudice and heightening European American racial identity development. It appears that we are moving in a positive direction toward provision of appropriate training, but there is still much to be understood in order to produce cross-culturally competent therapists (Kiselica et al., 1999; Robinson & Morris, 2000: Rogers et al., 1998; Tomlinson-Clarke, 2000).

There is still much dispute over what the most effective methods of training are (Arthur & Stewart, 2001; Robinson & Morris, 2000; Rogers et al., 1998; Tomlinson-Clarke, 2000). Though more has been written about graduate programming in cross-cultural training, some suggestions have been offered relevant to training at the undergraduate level. It is clearly necessary to provide some pedagogical techniques in a non-traditional manner. This might include discussion, experiences outside of the classroom or assessment formats other than standardized exams (Harris, 2001; Kranz & Lund, 1998; Lund, Kranz, & Porter, 1998). …