Project Title: The effects of a cultural competency course on undergraduates’ paradigms on diversity
Mentor: Bryan Dewsbury
Abstract: Bennett (1986) proposed the ‘Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity’ theory. This theory explains cultural competency as “the way a person understands, feels about, and responds to cultural differences.” He highlighted two main concepts used for evaluation of cultural competency, ethno-centrism and ethno-relativism. In our study we sought to investigate whether exposure to a course on cultural competency would result in a paradigm shift of the cognitive rational, specifically how the subject related to diversity. In other words, we sought to identify if ethno-central relations i.e. “us vs them” would shift towards more ethno-relative relations such as emphasizing similarities. We concluded that there was an overall shift in the students cognitive rational over the semester in certain codes. Students’ emphasis on similarities decreased over the semester as well as their emphasis on differences. Students also were using more inclusive language such as “we” in slightly higher numbers at the end of the semester than exclusive language such as “them.” Lastly, relating in terms of “self” and “experience” rather than “others” and “by example” increased throughout the semester.