Impact of Multicultural Training on School Psychology and Education Students

Article excerpt

The basis for this research is an examination of the outcomes of a required multicultural course. Students completed pre-, mid- and post-tests assessing their multicultural knowledge, awareness, and skills. Analyses of the pre-, mid- and posttests indicated significant increases in multicultural awareness, knowledge, and skills.

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This research focused on the outcome of multicultural training for future school psychologists and educators. Increasingly, school psychologists and teachers receive training in multicultural topics in both their education and counseling coursework. Although this attention to multicultural training is to be lauded, research which defines those elements that constitute successful training programs is needed. Relative to the total amount of literature on multicultural issues, a small amount has been directed toward evaluating the pedagogy and components of training programs with psychometrically sound instruments. Researchers (Neville, et al, 1996; & Ridley, Mendoza, & Kanitz, 1994) have pointed out the critical need for more evaluative studies in this area.

Within this time of continued diversification of student populations (Sue, 1991), psychologists and teachers within our school systems remain primarily European American and middle class in many geographical regions. This research assessed whether or not elements within a required multicultural course increase awareness, knowledge and skills for future educators and psychologists.

Relevant Literature

Evans, Torrey, and Newton (1997) report that 50% of the states have criteria and requirements for multicultural education. Bank & Banks (2001) examine issues of multicultural education and include as most relevant an awareness, understanding, and appreciation Of diversity. While the criteria vary from state to state, each mandates coursework in multicultural education as a requirement for teacher credentialing (Evans, Torrey, & Newton, 1997). While vast literature exists on multicultural issues, little focus has been directed toward evaluating these training programs (Neville, et al, 1996). Additionally, the components and formats of these programs and whether the focus is on similarities or differences has been questioned (Ho, 1995) and whether in-depth knowledge of each racial/ethnic group is required (Cheatham, 1994).

Ridley and colleagues view training in multicultural counseling as critical, thus extending the emphasis from teachers to counselors within schools. While some researchers outline training models (Ridley, Mendoza, & Kanitz, 1994; and Sue, 1991), others have focused on evaluating training effectiveness (D'Andrea et al., 1991).

The basis for this study is grounded in current literature from the fields of education, counseling, and related multicultural studies which examine awareness, knowledge and skills. The courses are designed to meet specific objectives as mandated by a state requirement. These are: understand the contributions and lifestyles of various racial, cultural, and economic groups in our society; recognize and deal with dehumanizing biases, prejudices, and discrimination; create environments which contribute to the positive self-image of persons and to positive interpersonal relations; respect human diversity and personal rights; and develop multicultural, gender fair, disability sensitive, inclusive approaches. This study specifically examines whether elements of multicultural courses result in subsequent positive changes in awareness, knowledge and skills for those being trained to address diverse student populations.

Method

Participants

Individuals participating in this research provided informed consent and were free to withdraw from the research at any time with no penalty. The students were not involved in any other multicultural courses. The surveys were completed and placed in one large envelope after the instructor had exited the room. …