The influence of experiential learning on self perceptions of cultural competence
The focus of this research study was to examine Child and Youth Study undergraduates’ self perceptions of cultural competence following completion of their most recent practicum placement. Qualitative research methods were used to gain an in-depth understanding of the students’ perceptions and eleven students participated through interviews with the researcher. Thematic analysis, as described by Attride-Sterling (2001), was used to explore three global themes that were identified through examination of basic and organizing themes. The three global themes identified indicated that 1) the participants’ background and level of experience with diverse cultures influence their self perceptions of cultural competence; 2) coursework and practicum experiences influence the students’ self perceptions of cultural competence; and, 3) students expressed motivation to learn more about and interact more with diverse individuals. The study results may be of interest to those involved in professional training programs who actively encourage multicultural experiential learning through a variety of practica. Students indicated an interest in greater diversity through practica, more opportunities for debriefing during practica, and increased opportunities for professional development. Additional research in this area is important in order to better prepare future child and youth professionals for a career in the helping profession. Future investigations may aim to engage a more diverse group of participants as a means to broaden the perspective beyond what is presented in this study.
self perception , cultural competence , practicum