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Diversity in Graduate Training for Community Psychology. A Master’s Thesis Presented May 23, 2005 by Terese Pilaczynski. Why is Diversity in Graduate Training Important?. Students must understand their own values, biases and cultural identity before they can begin to understand others

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diversity in graduate training for community psychology

Diversity in Graduate Training for Community Psychology

A Master’s Thesis Presented

May 23, 2005


Terese Pilaczynski

why is diversity in graduate training important
Why is Diversity in Graduate Training Important?
  • Students must understand their own values, biases and cultural identity before they can begin to understand others
  • Students must divest themselves of preconceived biases and develop positive, open-minded attitudes in dealing with others
  • Exposing students to diverse faculty and peer populations enhances the educational experience
  • A curriculum infused with topics of diversity will expose students to the concepts of oppression, disadvantage and value conflicts
  • Based on the nation’s diverse populations, cultural competence is critical for students in the field of community psychology
  • The ability to honor and implement the core values of community psychology hinges on an understanding and respect for diversity
  • The American Psychological Association supported the need for cultural competence by adopting the Guidelines on Multicultural Education, Training, Research, Practice and Organizational Change for Psychologists
why is diversity in graduate training important1
Why is Diversity in Graduate Training Important?
  • Often we think of diversity as simply a way to categorize majorities and minorities. Each individual must discover their own identities to develop an understanding of how they are different from, or the same as others. It is often that sameness that we tend to discount, and this is where self-exploration can lead to a better understanding of others in terms of both their struggles and their triumphs.
  • When we open ourselves up to learning about others, we can begin to appreciate that differences as well as similarities are of value to society. Recognizing this value can help us to deal with others in a non-oppressive manner.
  • Students can learn new perspectives, expand their critical thinking skills, engage in and resolve conflicts arising from issues of diversity, and hear about experiences previously unknown to them.
  • Students with limited previous exposure to diversity can begin to understand how these issues affect the attitudes, concerns, and actions of different populations
  • The United States continues to be a melting pot for ethnic, cultural and socially emerging diversity. It is imperative that students be exposed to a variety of educational techniques and opportunities to develop proficiency in understanding and working with the diverse populations they will encounter in their professional endeavors.
why is diversity in graduate training important2
Why is Diversity in Graduate Training Important?
  • The educational experience in graduate training for community psychology must serve as a working example of the core values of community psychology: personal well-being, social justice, a sense of belongingness and mutual commitment, a communal relationship with communities, a respect for human diversity, community empowerment, and research based on empirical knowledge gleaned from the community.
  • The APA guidelines suggest that when working in the field of psychology, we must be aware that our own cultural attitudes and beliefs could impact how we deal with others, we must develop and maintain cultural competency when working in clinical or community settings, and we must have an understanding of and sensitivity for people from diverse backgrounds. These guidelines also suggest that multiculturalism be included in the curriculum of psychology programs, and that research conducted with diverse populations be culturally-centered and ethically sound. Finally the guidelines encourage those in psychological fields to act as change agents committed to the creation and support of a culturally informed professional environment.
  • Now that we understand why diversity is important in graduate training for community psychology, we need to identify the research questions this study will attempt to answer.
research questions
Research Questions
  • What is the current status of community psychology graduate training programs in terms of the degree of diversity in both faculty and student populations?
  • What is the current status of community psychology graduate training programs in terms of how and to what degree diversity has been included in curriculum and training outcomes?
  • How have issues of diversity changed longitudinally from previous survey periods?
2005 survey of graduate training in community psychology method
2005 Survey of Graduate Training in Community PsychologyMethod
  • Participants – Surveys were sent to103 programs identified through:

*The list of 1995 and/or 1999 Survey respondents

*APA’s Guide to Graduate Programs in Psychology (2003)

*The Society for Community Research and Action web site

*The Community Psychology Net Graduate School web site and Gradschools.com

  • Program data

*Of 38 Surveys returned out of 103 sent, 32 programs met the parameters for participation.

  • Procedure

*Surveys were mailed to the program director (if known) or psychology department

*A cover letter from the Council of Program Directors in Community Research and Action and a cover letter from Metropolitan State University were included

*Two postcard and three emailed reminders were sent over a period of four months

  • Measurement

*This study utilized information from 15 of the 45 total questions contained in the survey that focus on issues of diversity

historic trends responding programs1
Historic Trends – Responding Programs
  • Four previous Surveys of graduate training in community psychology were conducted on behalf of the Council of Community Psychology Program Directors in Community Research and Action in 1987, 91, 95 and 99.
  • With each progressive survey period, either fewer programs responded or fewer programs actually existed. Both possible scenarios are a concern for the field of community psychology.
historic gender representation in faculty diversity
Historic Gender Representation in Faculty Diversity
  • The percentage of female faculty in core and affiliated positions increased from the period of 1987 to 2005 despite a smaller sample size. Conversely, the percentage of male faculty decreased in the same time period.
  • Core faculty counts gradually increased from 1987 to 1999, and decreased from 1999 to 2005. Affiliated faculty counts gradually increased from 1987 to 1995, then decreased from 1995 to 2005. Both decreases could be due to a smaller sample size or there could have been a shift from faculty types due to growing budgetary concerns experienced by colleges and universities.
  • From 1987 to 1991 there was no increase in the percentage of female core/affiliated faculty, but from 1991 to 1995 there was a 5% increase, from 1995 to 1999 there was an 11% increase, and from 1999 to 2005, there was a 5% increase, despite smaller sample sizes each survey year.
historic faculty diversity1
Historic Faculty Diversity
  • From 1987 to 2005, it appears there could have been an increase in faculty diversity, however, the difficulty in analyzing these possible increases lies in the fact that there was also a progressive decrease in the number of programs responding in each survey year, and the same programs did not necessarily respond each survey year. From 1987 to 1995, despite a decreasing number of survey respondents, the total of all faculty members increased each year – with diversity levels hovering between 9-13%. In 1999, there was no data gathered for affiliated faculty, so the total number of faculty for that year is lower than all other years, which could have skewed the diversity data. Although 2005 had the smallest sample size of all five survey periods, the total percentage of diversity is higher than all previous years.
faculty diversity ethnic
Faculty Diversity - Ethnic
  • It is of interest to note that none of the four areas of ethnic diversity exceeds 11% of the total number of White/European faculty members.
  • With 31 programs providing data for this topic, 23% reported no diverse faculty members, 26% reported one, and 52% reported two or more diverse faculty members.
  • Under-reporting could have occurred if programs directors were unclear as to the appropriate identification to use. Over-reporting could have occurred if program directors assigned more than one diversity classification for individual faculty members.
  • For the last 3 tenure track hires reported by 26 programs, 65% were women, 35% weremembers of an ethnic minority group, 0 were disabled, and 3% were GLBT.
faculty diversity disabled glbt
Faculty Diversity – Disabled / GLBT
  • It should be noted that no faculty members in core, affiliated, or adjunct positions were identified with the diversity category of disability.
  • 3% of core, affiliated and adjunct positions were identified with the diversity category of GLBT.
  • Under-reporting clearly could have occurred, first, if program directors were uncomfortable in making the assignment of these diversities, and second, if the identification was simply not obvious to the program director.
student and faculty diversity1
Student and Faculty Diversity
  • The literature suggests a diverse faculty population creates multiple benefits for both students and the campus environment, thus presumably a lack of the same could create a deficit in those areas that could negatively impact the quality of graduate education. Perhaps a diverse faculty population can serve to encourage greater numbers of diverse students to apply to graduate training programs in community psychology. The long-term benefits of both a diverse student and faculty population include enhancing the levels of diversity of future educators in the field; creating an atmosphere of cultural sensitivity; and training a diverse student population to embrace and employ the core ideals of community psychology in their personal and professional lives. The demonstrated association between diverse faculty and student populations in graduate training in community psychology shown in the results of the 2005 survey (r=.54, p<.05) is a positive achievement that should act as a catalyst for future research into how to increase this association and how to maximize the educational benefits it can provide.
student diversity
Student Diversity
  • The 1999 survey was the first to capture student diversity data
  • Under-reporting could have occurred if program directors were unclear as to the appropriate identification. Over-reporting could occur if program directors assigned more than one diversity identification to an individual student.
  • Additional analysis shows that students identifying with disability were represented by 1% of women and 1% of men. Similarly, students identifying with GLBT were represented by 1% of women and 1% of men.
  • For the total number of students currently enrolled in reporting programs, 36% were considered non-traditional in terms of age, 13% used English as a second language, and 6% were international students.
  • In 1999, the total number of diverse students was 32% of the total number of all students (including 72 students identified as “other). In 2005, the total number of diverse students was also 32%.
career path
Career Path
  • With eight programs providing data, of 111 total graduating doctoral students, 81% were women and 19% were men. For the 38 students choosing an academic career path, 74% of those students were women and 26% were men. In contrast, of the 73 students choosing a non-academic career path, 85% were women and 15% were men. Further, 48% of graduating men entered an academic career path compared to 31% of graduating women.
  • In terms of diversity, none of the six non-White identifications exceeded 6% of the total number of graduating students either in academic or non-academic career paths. White-European students represented 79% of all graduates, with 35% of those grads choosing academia and 65% choosing non-academia. Members of other ethnic groups accounted for 21% of all recent graduates, with 45% of those being employed in academia and 55% employed in non-academic settings.
discussion page 1
Discussion – page 1
  • As we looked at the historic results for survey response rates from 1987 through 2005, it was noted that either the actual number of graduate programs in community psychology are decreasing or the response rates are decreasing for other reasons. If fewer programs chose to respond to the survey, it could signify a lack of interest in participating in research that could benefit both graduate training in community psychology and the field as a whole. It’s possible the decreasing response rate occurred either because of time constraints or perhaps because the responses may have shown the program in a negative light. It’s also possible that programs directors have not seen a specific benefit to participating in the past. The original purpose of the earlier surveys was as a means to collect basic program data that could then be used by potential students and directors of other programs to gain a snapshot view of community psychology training available throughout the country. Other than the initial report of data collected, published exclusively in the newsletter of the Society for Community Research and Action (note that not all programs are members of this organization), there appears to have been no follow-up articles or expanded research. While parts of the 2005 survey focused on issues of diversity, program directors could have viewed it as yet another regurgitation of basic marketing information that’s available in many other venues, and thus didn’t respond. If, however, the number of viable programs is declining each year, it could signify a lack of interest on the part of college and university administrations to offer community psychology programs due to declining student enrollments; limited sources of supplemental funding; or a shift in prioritization for the types of psychology programs being offered. These reasons were given by several former program directors when asked why they hadn’t responded to this year’s survey. A limitation noted in the discussion section of this study indicates that a question should have been included in the 2005 survey to ask whether the institution had a program in the past, and if it was no longer viable, why. It’s critical that future research be done determine which of these two possibilities is the case, and why.
discussion page 2
Discussion – page 2
  • For the issue of faculty diversity based on gender, the survey results seem to indicate that women have increased their representation in faculty positions in community psychology from 1987 to 2005, despite a smaller sample size each survey year. One issue to consider is that for those students who graduated in the past five years, it was reported that 31% of the graduating women entered academic career paths. While women have increased their presence in faculty positions with community psychology up to now, it will be important to watch the trends of new graduates to determine if women will be able to maintain or improve their overall representation in faculty positions.
  • In terms of faculty diversity based on ethnicity, it is somewhat difficult to compare the 2005 survey results to previous survey years because of progressively lower response rates. It appears from the results that faculty diversity based on ethnicity has increased marginally from previous survey years, and the current results are also similar to national statistics for higher education in the general field of psychology. However, if we focus on the data that indicates 49% of the programs responding to the 2005 survey have zero or one diverse faculty member, and 52% have two or more, we can see that there is still clearly room for improvement to increase diverse faculty representation.
discussion page 3
Discussion – page 3
  • The results of the 2005 survey highlights an area of concern as it relates to faculty diversity based on the classifications of disability and GLBT. Of the responding programs, faculty members who identify with GLBT represent only 3% of the total faculty, and not one program has a faculty member who identifies with disability. While it’s reasonable to assume that program directors could have been uncomfortable making these identifications on behalf of their faculty members, or could have truly been unaware of the identifications, either situation presents an area of concern. Discomfort or lack of knowledge on the part of the program director could indicate that this information was not made obvious to them or to other faculty members because of the stigma sometimes associated with these two diversity classifications. If this is the case, that same stigma could be evident in the student population as well. The data from the 2005 survey shows an association between having a diverse faculty and student population – but those results focused on ethnic diversity due to the current lack of representation of disabled or GLBT faculty. It’s possible that if graduate training programs are able to increase the representation of faculty in these two areas of diversity, there may also be an increase in the student population represented in these classifications as well. Future research needs to be done to determine how graduate training programs in community psychology can attract, hire, and retain a representation of faculty who identify with disability and GLBT.
discussion page 4
Discussion – page 4
  • The results of the 2005 survey demonstrate an association between a diverse faculty population and a diverse student population, which as the literature suggests, can create opportunities for numerous educational benefits and can serve to create a culturally sensitive social atmosphere. In discussing faculty diversity, it was noted that 49% of the responding programs reported having zero or one diverse faculty member. The results that relate faculty diversity to student diversity indicates that 43% of the programs that provided data have both faculty and student diversity levels of 25% or greater.
  • In term of student ethnic diversity, the results of the 2005 survey mirrors the historical data from previous surveys as well as national statistics for general psychology graduate programs. This begs the question, however, as to whether the specialty field of community psychology should hold itself to a higher standard of student diversity than higher education in other fields.
  • The minute representation of students who identify with disability or GLBT is another concern for graduate training in community psychology. The American Psychological Association has shown support for students in these two categories of diversity by publishing guidelines to assist students, faculty and graduate program administrations to enhance both the learning experience and the institutional climate as it relates to issues with disability and GLBT. Programs offering graduate training in community psychology need to embrace and implement these guidelines in an effort to create an educational environment that welcomes and nurtures students who represent areas of disability and GLBT.
discussion page 5
Discussion – page 5
  • An analysis of the career paths chosen by graduating doctoral students in the last five years yields several topics of interest. First, it is important to consider the large percentage of students entering academic versus non-academic careers. As noted earlier, the level of diversity of graduating students who enter academia may have an impact on the ability of community psychology programs to attract diverse student populations. A second issue to consider is the degree with which non-academic positions are available; whether the salaries are competitive; and whether the training received by doctoral students in community psychology is adequate to meet the demands of those positions. A final area of interest is to what degree doctoral students enter clinical professions. The data gathered in the 2005 survey was not detailed enough to provide an answer to this question, however, future research could provide a greater focus on how the educational experience affects a student’s career choices or conversely, how career goals affect the type of educational experience sought by students.
discussion page 6
Discussion – page 6
  • In the areas of curriculum and cultural competence, it seems clear that if core courses are rated low in terms of how much diversity is included in content, it is possible that students will not receive adequate training to help them develop cultural competence upon graduation. Despite the fact that literature in community psychology has discussed this essential educational issue for almost forty years, and despite census data that clearly demonstrates a societal need, almost 80% of the responding programs reported no specific standards or outcomes for cultural competence in their graduate training programs.Given the very small number of programs that could articulate clear standards of cultural competence it is recommended that faculty in all community psychology programs discuss cultural competence goals in order to formulate clear standards of diversity education and training.
  • Since 1987, studies conducted on behalf of the Council of Community Psychology Program Directors in Community Research and Action gathered data regarding graduate training in community research and action. Other studies in the fields of community research and action, psychology, and general higher education have been published that highlight the value of infusing issues of diversity into this educational endeavor. The results of the current study, and previous research that focused on graduate training in community research and action generates one pivotal question that must be answered by educators before any attempts at improving other identified issues can be made. When will programs in community psychology address the issues raised in this body of research?
  • When we consider the relatively low number of diverse faculty and students in graduate training programs; the low rate of infusion of diversity in some curriculum areas; and the continued lack of formal standards and outcomes for cultural competency, it appears that the educational process in community psychology has made little progress in effecting positive social changes within its own field.
  • Several of the core ideals of community research and action: personal well-being; social justice; a sense of belongingness and mutual commitment; and a respect for human diversity may seem superficial to the faculty members entrusted to educate future change agents, and to the graduate students who may someday assist a myriad of diverse communities to have an effect on issues of oppression, discrimination, and social barriers. For a specialty of psychology that is, in theory, devoted to community problems and the study of how social systems affect individuals, it seems inconceivable that graduate training programs have ignored almost two decades worth of data that continues to suggest the field is not practicing what it preaches.
  • This study focused on assessing the degree with which graduate training in community research and action has embraced issues of diversity. The results of this study were similar to research done as many as eighteen years ago in that diverse faculty and student populations; the addition of coursework related to multicultural issues; and the overall infusion of diversity in graduate training continued to remain somewhat limited in scope.
  • The findings suggested that continuous improvement must be made to incorporate diversity into all areas of graduate training. It is imperative to make an accurate determination as to whether graduate training programs in community psychology are indeed declining in number, and if so, why. The continued viability of this field of psychology is dependent on the creation and retention of programs that will train future practitioners in community research and action.
  • It is equally critical to determine if the decline in the number of programs noted in this study was merely a function of a lack of interest on the part of program directors. The field must analyze why educators who head programs for graduate training are choosing not to participate in research that could be beneficial to the educational experience, as well as the field of community psychology.
suggestions page 2
Suggestions – page 2
  • Program evaluations from the perspective of program directors, faculty, and current/past graduate students should be done on a consistent basis to ensure that the focus on diversity continues to produce progressive results and so that data on changes within graduate training programs can be compared longitudinally. Longitudinal studies would provide an opportunity to observe trends in graduate training programs as it relates to multicultural issues. These trends should fuel discussions throughout the field of community psychology as to what is working in the area of diversity, what is not, and how continuous improvement can be made.
  • It is also important to establish a universal minimum criterion with which to assess student knowledge and skills as it relates to cultural competence. Research should be conducted with students after they leave programs and enter their chosen career path to determine if they both feel, and can demonstrate through the work they are doing that their exposure to diversity throughout their educational experience was effective.
  • The field of community psychology must be alert to social changes that create emerging diversities. Educators should seek out opportunities to incorporate all areas of diversity into course work, practicum experiences, and research projects for graduate students in community research and action.
  • There should also be a commitment on the part of institutions, program directors, faculty, and graduate students to use the community psychology program itself as a vehicle for enacting social change. This commitment must include goals to attract and retain diverse faculty and student populations, to add and improve diversity curriculum, and to infuse the educational experience in community psychology with the values of social justice and respect for human diversity.
suggestions page 3
Suggestions – page 3
  • Finally, it is imperative that educators in the field of community psychology do not lose sight of the standards summarized by the multicultural guidelines established by the American Psychological Association. The results of this study suggest a continued indifference on the part of educators to actively monitor progress in diversity issues and make effective changes in a timely manner; to put forth universal standards to increase the cultural competence of graduates; to establish curriculums that are infused with topics of diversity, cultural sensitivity, and to develop culturally appropriate skills in clinical or other professional settings.