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Impact of multicultural training on school psychology and education students.

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.


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.



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. They were collected by a student and turned in to the department secretary. They were returned to the researchers 8-10 weeks after course grades had been submitted. This is also standard procedure for end-of course evaluations and encourages honesty while insuring anonymity. The participants included 63 students enrolled in three undergraduate sections of a multicultural course each taught by the same instructor. Females comprised 63.5% of the sample, with 36.5% males. Ethnic diversity of the group was not large with 87.3 percent European American (4.8% Hispanic, 1.6% African-American, 1.6% Asian-American, and 6.3% other ethnicities). The average age of participants was 21.13 (SD = 3.53).


The Multicultural Counseling Awareness, Knowledge, and Skills Survey developed by D'Andrea, Daniels and Heck (1991) was modified for this research. The MAKSS (D'Andrea, Daniels & Heck) items were slightly revised to fit prospective educators (MAKSS-T). Some questions were modified by changing the word "counselor" to "teacher" to better fit the population. The modification was aimed at having the survey be more inclusive of educators and psychologists. The instrument consists of 60-items divided into three subscales of twenty items each. The scales provide one score each for multicultural awareness, multicultural knowledge, and multicultural skills. Reliability and validity has been established for the MAKSS (D'Andrea, Daniels & Heck, 1991).


Students participated in this research on a voluntary basis with no incentive offered and were free to withdraw without penalty. Responses were matched using social security numbers. The participants completed the MAKSS-T prior to the course, midway through the course, and at the completion of the course.

The course was required as a core course and was the only course devoted to multicultural issues required for graduation. The undergraduate courses met twice weekly for 100-minute sessions over a 15-week semester. Course objectives included: 1) Understanding the contributions and life-styles of various racial, cultural and economic groups in our society; 2) Recognizing and addressing dehumanizing biases, prejudices, and discrimination; 3) Creating environments which contribute to the positive self-image of persons and to positive interpersonal relations, 4) Respecting human diversity and personal rights; and 5) Developing multicultural, gender fair, disability sensitive, inclusive approaches. Activities included readings, discussions, lectures, videos, reaction papers, lesson planning, individual and group presentation, analysis of group, a final research paper and a final objective examination.


The three classes were examined for significant differences on each of the three scales (awareness, knowledge, and skills) prior to collapsing them for this research. A repeated measures ANOVA indicated whether changes occurred between pre-, mid-, and post-assessment.


The three classes were analyzed with an ANOVA on each of the three scales prior to collapsing for further analysis. No significant differences were indicated on the pre-scores for the three classes (Awareness [F (1, 37) = 2.792, MSE = .032, p > .05], Knowledge IF (1, 37) = .030, MSE = .075, p > .05], Skills IF (1, 37) = .151, I= .193 p > .05]).

The data were examined with a repeated measures ANOVA for significant differences in the pre-, mid- and post-test scores (Table 1). Significant differences were indicated on the awareness scale [F (2, 35) = 16.08, MSE .28,p < .01]. Post-hoc analysis indicated significant differences between pre- and mid-test scores on awareness and pre- and post-test awareness scores (p < .01), however the mid- and posttest scores on awareness were not significantly different (p > .05). Significant differences were indicated on the knowledge scale [F (2,35) = 32.06, MSE = 1.16, p < .01]. Post-hoc analysis indicated significant differences between pre-, mid- and post-test scores on the knowledge scale with each of the other two scores (p < .01). Significant differences were indicated on the skills scale [F (2,35) = 17.81, MSE = .91, p < .01]. Post-hoc analysis indicated significant differences between mid- and post-test scores for skills and pre- and post-test skills scores (p < .01), however the pre- and mid-test scores for skills were not significantly different (p > .05).


Analysis of the pre- to post-test indicate significant increases in multicultural awareness, knowledge, and skills. The significance of these outcomes is important due to the prior beliefs held by the students. As in a similar study conducted with graduate students and some different variables, the students enter the course thinking they already know all they need to about multicultural issues (Warring, Keim, & Rau, 1998). Upon course completion they report how mistaken they were and how beneficial the course was. For the awareness scale, pre-mid and pre-post scores indicated significant changes: The lack of mid-post significant changes may indicate that large changes occur initially in awareness and then level off over the semester. These findings indicate that a large portion of the beginning of a multicultural course should be dedicated to increasing awareness. Increased awareness coupled with motivation facilitates learning the new information being presented to them and skill development in its application.

When examining the knowledge scale, significant changes occurred at each assessment point. This indicates that while the semester continues, students consistently gain in their knowledge. This is important when examining the number of issues across the semester and across time as students leave school. Motivation and willingness to continue to integrate and build their knowledge base when faced with new topics/issues is critical in society.

The skills scale indicated significant pre-post and mid-post changes. Perhaps the lack of significant differences between pre-mid indicate that the multicultural skills come with time and may not be demonstrated early in the course. Skill development is unlikely without awareness and knowledge.

This study demonstrates the potential impact of instruction on multicultural competencies through self-reported changes over a period of time. Common multicultural experiences in core programs provide sources of bonding, discussion and shared work for students. Although the researchers acknowledge limitations such as nonrandom sample selection and course variables, these results offer encouraging evidence in support of mandatory multicultural training for the helping professions. It should also be noted that while one course is insufficient to provide all the necessary information it can lay the groundwork for additional training.

Finally, the results of this research provide information regarding the sequencing of acquiring new awareness, knowledge and skills during a multicultural course. Ongoing research needs to be conducted to assess the design and implementation of effective training models.
Table 1


 Mean Std Dev Cases
 Pre-test *, ** 2.64 .21 53
 Mid-test * 2.73 .22 49
 Post-test ** 2.78 .19 49
 Pre-test (+, ++) 2.46 .25 53
 Mid-test (+, +++) 2.62 .26 49
 Post-test (++, +++) 2.82 .29 49
 Pre-test (-) 2.63 .42 53
 Mid-test (--) 2.70 .36 48
 Post-test (-, --) .91 .41 48

* Pre- and mid-test were significantly different,(t(44) = 3.06,
p < .01).

** Pre- and post-test were significantly different, (t(39) = 5.17,
p < .01).

(+) Pre- and mid-test were significantly different, (t(44) = 3.77,
p < .01).

(++) Pre- and post-test were significantly different, (t(39) = 6.74,
p < .01).

(+++) Mid- and post-test were significantly different, (t(39) = 5.92,
p < .01).

(-) Pre- and post-test were significantly different, (t(39) = 4.78,
p < .01).

(--) Mid- and post-test were significantly different, (t(38) = 5.52,
p < .01).


Banks, J. A. & Banks, C. A. M. (2001). Multicultural education: Issues and perspectives 4th ed. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Cheatham, H. E. (1994). A response. Counselor Education and Supervision, 30, 66-76.

D'Andrea, M., Daniels, J., & Heck, R. (1991). Evaluating the impact of multicultural counseling training. Journal of Counseling and Development, 70(1), 143-150.

Evans, E. D., Torrey, C. C. & Newton, S. D. (1997). Multicultural education requirements in teacher certification: A national survey. Multicultural Education, 4(3), 9-11.

Ho, D. (1995). Internalized culture, culturocentrism, and transcendence. The Counseling Psychologist, 23(1), 4-24.

Neville, H., Heppner, M., Louie, C., Thompson, C., Brooks., L. & Baker, C. (1996). The impact of multicultural training on white racial identity attitudes and therapy competencies. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 27, 83-89.

Ridley, C. R., Mendoza, D. W., & Kanitz, B. E. (1994). Multicultural training: Reexamination, operationalization, and integration. The Counseling Psychologist, 22(2), 227-289.

Sue, D. (1991). A model for cultural diversity training. Journal of Counseling Development, 70, 99-105.

Warring, D., Keim, J. & Rau, R. (1998). Multicultural training for students and its impact. Action in Teacher Education, 20, 56-63.

Jeanmarie Keim, Ph.D., Counseling Psychology, University of Memphis. Douglas F. Warring, Ph.D., Educational and Social Psychology, University of St. Thomas. Renee Rau, OSB, M.A., Counseling Psychology, University of St. Thomas.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Dr. Jeanmarie Keim, Counseling Psychology, 100 Ball Education Building, University of Memphis, Memphis, TN 38152.
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Article Details
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Author:Rau, Renee
Publication:Journal of Instructional Psychology
Article Type:Statistical Data Included
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2001
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