Transforming the role of the leadership educator: The relationship between multicultural competence and the use of the social change model of leadership development
Wilson, Amy B.
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The increasingly diverse nature of college and university campuses is well documented, as is the benefits of diverse interactions among students. However, recent research in the field of leadership education has suggested that conversation across differences may be more impactful than interactions alone, placing leadership educators in a unique and influential position to impact student learning. Up until recently, the role of the leadership educator had not been frequently explored as an important factor in student leadership development, let alone with regards to their capacity to engage students in socio-cultural conversations. Previous research has examined multicultural competence of student affairs professionals within limited functional areas (i.e. Orientation and Residence Life), hence this study aims to further this research utilizing student affairs professionals responsible for leadership education, in hopes of bridging the gap between theory and practice. This study examines: 1) to what extent does the use of the Social Change Model of Leadership Development within co-curricular leadership programming predict levels of multicultural competence among student affairs professionals responsible for co-curricular leadership programs, 2) the relationship between racial identity and multicultural competence of student affairs professionals responsible for co-curricular leadership programs, 3) the relationship between multicultural education and experiences and multicultural competence among student affairs professionals responsible for co-curricular leadership programs, and 4) to what extent do demographic variables, racial identity, and multicultural education and experiences predict levels of multicultural competence among student affairs professionals responsible for co-curricular leadership programs? In fall 2010, 167 student affairs professionals responsible for some portion of leadership education on their respective campuses, completed an online survey. The survey consisted of three distinct instruments: 1) a researcher developed Personal Data Form inclusive of basic demographic information as well as specific information about participant's leadership programs and multicultural education and experiences, 2) the Multicultural Competence Student Affairs-Preliminary 2 (MCSA-P2; Pope & Mueller, 2000), and 3) either the White Racial Identity Attitude Scale (WRIAS; Helms & Carter, 1990) or the People of Color Racial Identity Attitude Scale (POCRIAS; Helms, 1990b) based on participant's self-identified race/ethnicity. Selected study findings: 1) While isolated use of the Social Change Model is not significant in predicting levels of multicultural competence, use of the Social Change Model in addition to one or more models is significant, but not a strong predictor of multicultural competence; 2) Racial identity continues to be strongly related to multicultural competence, even when controlling for demographic variables; 3) Multicultural education and experiences continue to be significant factors in levels of multicultural competence; and 4) The combination of demographics, racial identity, and multicultural education and experiences is a significant predictor of multicultural competence among student affairs professionals responsible for leadership education. The implications and recommendations for future research are discussed in detail.