Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair(s)

Melanie M. Domenech Rodríguez


Melanie M. Domenech Rodríguez


Melissa A. Tehee


Scott Bates


Jennifer Grewe


Breanne Litts


Previous research has shown that a semester-long multicultural psychology course can effectively increase students’ cultural competence-related attitudes when students complete the class in-person and online. Cultural competence refers to the knowledge, awareness, and skills required to appreciate, recognize, and effectively work with members of other cultural groups. This dissertation examined several components of a multicultural psychology course: ethical grading, skill development, and intergroup contact. The first paper discussed techniques used to minimize grading bias and examined whether cultural competence shifts impacted grading. Students’ cultural competence scores did not relate to or predict their grades in the course, which supported the notion instructors can grade fairly and objectively regardless of students’ attitudes and values. The second paper highlighted the importance of social justice competence in addition to cultural competence, as well as the importance of targeting skill development in addition to knowledge and awareness. This study investigated the impact of adding a skills-focused Difficult Dialogues group assignment to the course on students’ shifts in cultural competence-related attitudes and social justice orientation and also discussed of implementation considerations for instructors. Results suggested that the Difficult Dialogues project had a particular impact on improving students’ social justice behavioral intentions. The third paper focused on the impact of intergroup contact with diverse others. The multicultural psychology course typically requires direct contact by attending at least three cultural events every semester. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this requirement was shifted to indirect contact activities. This study examined differential shifts on students’ cultural competence-related attitudes in sections where students were required to engage in direct intergroup contact versus students who were allowed to engage in indirect intergroup contact due to taking the course during the COVID-19 pandemic. Results suggest that indirect contact contributed to positive shifts in cultural competence equally as well as direct intergroup contact. These studies advance the evidence-based teaching of multicultural psychology by empirically examining specific course components. The manuscripts provide useful information for educators, administrators, advocates, and policymakers about the impact of multicultural education, the efficacy of cultural competence training, and feasibility of ethical implementation in the classroom.



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