Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Workforce Education and Development
This descriptive study used a mixed methods design and sought to examine students' perceptions on workforce education and development (WED) curriculum responsiveness to culturally and internationally diverse graduate students, at a Midwestern university on four dimensions: teaching strategies (to include delivery), curriculum inclusiveness, international responsiveness, and curriculum improvements. The research study design consisted of the mixed methods Follow-up Explanations Model (QUAN emphasized) complemented by the With-in Stage Mixed Model. A pragmatic paradigm guided the collection and analysis of the study's census data (survey and focus groups). A newly developed WED Curriculum Responsiveness Survey (.850 Cronbach's alpha index) containing closed- and open-ended questions facilitated data collection from all the population. Three follow-up focus groups gathered qualitative data for explaining the survey quantitative results. Study participants comprised all graduate students with at least one year continuous enrollment from fall 2007 to spring 2008 in a WED program at a Midwestern university. A total of 69 (44% response rate) participants responded to the census survey comprising three main study groups: U.S. majority, U.S. minority, and International students. At this snapshot in time and based on study findings of students' perceptions, WED curriculum responsiveness to culturally and internationally diverse graduate students at a Midwestern university appeared to be inadequate. This was evident in the resulting overall weak correlation in the most used and most responsive teaching strategies to students' learning style preferences in its WED program. Further, U.S. minority and international students generally perceived cultural insensitivity to occur sometimes to quite often respectively in teaching delivery and the WED curriculum content to be typically aligned to the interests of the dominant group (Caucasians). All student groups (U.S. majority, U.S. minority, and international) found a limited representation of international perspectives on WED course topics. These findings imply that students experienced much intellectual and cultural bondage with a U.S.-centric curriculum in their graduate studies that does not fully preparing them for today's global marketplace. Students' suggestions for reversing these trends were to diversify/internationalize WED curriculum content, diversify teaching styles, hire diverse faculty, and provide faculty diversity training. These suggestions were strongly supported by the theoretical and empirical literature on critical race theory, critical education theory, curriculum inclusiveness, multicultural education, and internationalization in U.S. higher education.
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