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Inviting student stories into the classroom: Cultural competence among university faculty

Kellie E Pickett, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The purpose of this case study was to understand and compare student and faculty perspectives about how cultural competency of faculty shapes learning within a learning community for low-income, culturally diverse students at a public, Midwestern metropolitan university. Higher education institutions are becoming more diverse as more first-generation, low-income, and culturally and ethnically diverse students are pursuing higher education. Faculty members have an important role in creating positive and engaging learning environments for this diverse population. Through classroom observations and semi-structured interviews with nine faculty members and nine students in a learning community, the researcher gained insight into the role of cultural competency in learning. The researcher addressed the grand tour question: What role does faculty cultural competency play in shaping the learning experiences of low-income, culturally diverse students? The following sub-questions also guided the inquiry: (a) How do faculty members define and explain cultural competence? (b) How do students define and explain cultural competence? (c) What does cultural competence look like in the classroom? (d) How do faculty members develop cultural competence? and (e) How does teaching in the learning community change pedagogy? The findings of the research describe the role cultural competency played in shaping the learning experiences of both faculty and student participants in the study through five themes and seven sub-themes: (a) increased depth of learning experiences; (b) learning community classes are different; (c) breaking down barriers; (d) creating dialogue and collaborative learning; (e) global philosophy of teaching; (f) awareness of inequities and difference; (g) faculty effort of inclusivity; (h) knows my life story and adapts to me; (i) reciprocal commitment; (j) evolving philosophy and commitment to life-long learning; (k) exposure to difference humanizes theory; and (l) cultural competency outside learning community classroom. The researcher recommends creating opportunities for students, staff, and faculty members to engage in environments where diverse perspectives are central to learning. Additionally, the researcher recommends future research on the role of ethnic identity in cultural competency.

Subject Area

Multicultural Education|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Pickett, Kellie E, "Inviting student stories into the classroom: Cultural competence among university faculty" (2013). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3589772.