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Perceptions of active learning techniques for diversity training in academic and professional settings: a Wisconsin case study

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Author(s)
Laurin, Rachel K.
Advisor(s)
Wildermuth, Susan
Degree
MS, Communications
Date
Aug 26, 2009
Subject(s)
Active learning; Multiculturalism.
Abstract
Diversity training is essential in today's ever-changing multicultural world (Junkette, 2005). According to the U.S. Census, by 2050, the minority population will represent approximately 54% of the nation's overall population. Studying how teachers of diversity topics present the material is essential to determining the best possible way to teach intercultural communication competency. Intercultural communication competency has four dimensions: cognition, affect, behavior, and experience/exposure (Grunzweig & Rinehart, 1998). Time, age of students or participants, and the level of sensitivity of diversity topics create a unique dilemma in understanding. Previous research and observations determined that active learning was a key component in diversity training environments, both in a classroom and in a professional setting. Active learning uses different activities and interactive teaching styles to involve students more in the learning process (Prentless, 2006). To further examine the topic, previous student focus groups from a small Midwestern university as well as qualitative one-on-one interviews with the professors, participants of a local diversity training workshop, and the workshop trainers were all used to analyze the use of active learning in diversity college courses and professional trainings. The study indicated that both university professors and professional trainers reported using the same active learning techniques in their teachings. Secondly, students of both university professors and the diversity trainers reported that they enjoyed the use of active learning methods, particularly activities and team teaching. The students of both groups in this study felt that they understood the topics and would be able to apply the knowledge in a real life cross cultural interaction. The active learning methods were able to create a level of exposure which is vital to obtaining ICC. The results of this study imply that active learning should continue to be a part of teaching diversity topics.
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Permanent link
http://digital.library.wisc.edu/1793/47509 
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