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A multi‐cultural transformative approach to learning: Assessing attitude change in doctoral students following an online diversity course

Kathy Enger (School of Education, North Dakota State University, Fargo, North Dakota, USA)
Denise Lajimodiere (School of Education, North Dakota State University, Fargo, North Dakota, USA)

Multicultural Education & Technology Journal

ISSN: 1750-497X

Article publication date: 23 August 2011

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the attitudes of students following the completion of an online doctoral level multicultural diversity course at a university in the Midwestern USA based on Banks' transformative approach to learning in an effort to determine if the online environment could successfully intervene to change student attitudes. Few studies examine the impact of a transformative approach to learning diversity in the online environment.

Design/methodology/approach

This mixed methods study employed the Munroe multicultural scale and phenomenological analysis. The Munroe multicultural attitudinal scale questionnaire (MASQUE) is based on Banks' approach to multicultural learning and was administered in a pre‐ and a post‐test, and 594 pages of student journals were qualitatively analyzed using phenomenology.

Findings

Of the 28 questions on the MASQUE scale, students showed a significant difference between pre‐ and post‐scores on two questions: “I am knowledgeable regarding differences among economic classes,” and “I react positively to cultural differences.” A phenomenological analysis of journal entries showed that students perceived benefits in rural living, understood privilege, and felt compelled to act on what they learned from the course. The students in this course came to understand cultural difference through the lens of dominant Euro‐American culture.

Research limitations/implications

This study was limited in several ways. First, the discussion board was not analyzed. If the discussion board had been analyzed, it would have been possible to triangulate the data and further validate the findings. Second, longitudinal analysis would strengthen study findings. The study was limited to one snapshot of one course and would be stronger if future courses were analyzed over time, including long‐term analysis of student journals. Third, while phenomenology restricts qualitative analysis to one person, the study would be stronger if someone other that the professor teaching the course administered the survey, allowing more honesty from students in their responses. Inter‐rater reliability would be necessary for this approach.

Practical implications

The curriculum for this study was designed to be replicated and may be used in future courses to address prejudicial attitudes in students.

Social implications

Transformational learning that addresses prejudicial attitudes has far reaching implications for eliminating inequality and discrimination.

Originality/value

This study showed that transformative learning can take place in the online environment.

Keywords

Citation

Enger, K. and Lajimodiere, D. (2011), "A multi‐cultural transformative approach to learning: Assessing attitude change in doctoral students following an online diversity course", Multicultural Education & Technology Journal, Vol. 5 No. 3, pp. 176-193. https://doi.org/10.1108/17504971111166910

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited