The relationship between multicultural service-learning and self-reported multicultural competencies in undergraduate students
Smith, Allison Bridget
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An emerging central focus of higher education is how to train tomorrow’s leaders to be effective members of a multicultural society. The current study aimed to explore one potentially effective method of multicultural competence development, multicultural service-learning. Multicultural service-learning balances the goals of encouraging student learning and providing service to the community, while intentionally teaching and discussing multicultural issues. Two main gaps exist within the multicultural service-learning literature as it relates to multicultural competence: (1) a lack of outcome research on the effectiveness of multicultural service-learning as a method of training students on multicultural competence, and (2) a lack of process research on how multicultural competence is developed in the context of service-learning. A sequential explanatory strategy, which utilizes both quantitative and qualitative inquiry, was used to address these gaps. Preliminary support for the effectiveness of multicultural service-learning as one method for training multiculturally competent students was found. Peer relationships, relationships with faculty that balance challenge and support, participating in multicultural awareness raising activities, and successfully overcoming challenges were all found as being facilitative of multicultural development in the context of multicultural service-learning. Difficulty with receiving critical feedback, focusing on grades, difficulty generalizing multicultural awareness raising activities to their everyday lives, and feeling stuck by challenges were found to be non-facilitative of multicultural development in the context of multicultural service-learning. These findings have implications for the field of counseling psychology as well as the field of multicultural education.