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Social Justice Orientation and Multicultural Environment

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Empirical Research Review and Critique

Research Topic

This article considers the factors associated with faculty multicultural teaching competence. Mena and Rogers (2017) state that most research surrounding the teaching of multicultural courses focus on instructional strategies, course content, and social processes, with little attention given to qualities of multiculturally competent faculty members. This lack of attention surrounding the attributes of multiculturally competent faculty suggests there is a gap in literature surrounding the factors associated with multicultural teaching competence. The researchers believe faculty members play a critical role in the design and execution of the course. Therefore, their ability to proficiently and sensitively teach multicultural classes is extremely important especially since many students have only a single multicultural class during their graduate program.

Literature Review

The researchers thoroughly explored the literature surrounding the topics of social justice and multicultural competence in higher education. The articles sited were recent with the oldest article having a print date of 2007. The articles provided information regarding course content (Rogers & O’Bryan, 2014), social processes and dynamics appearing in multicultural classes (Adams, Bell, & Griffin, 2007; Sue, Lin, Torino, Capodilupo, & Rivera, 2009; Yoon, Jeremie-Brink, & Kordesh, 2014), instructional strategies (Jones, Sander, & Booker, 2013), students reflections of their learning experiences and teaching environment (Collins, Arthur, Brown, & Kennedy, 2015), and student outcomes (Cole, Case, Rios, & Curtin, 2011).

The researchers discuss the faculty members social justice orientation. They believe understanding individual’s struggles coupled with the ability to create change is essential to helping students address social, cultural and institutional policies impacting their lives. The researchers also believe “Culturally responsive teaching is the behavioral expression of knowledge, beliefs, and values that a recognize the importance of racial and cultural diversity in learning” and site Gay (2010) as their source. The impact of the environment on campuses of higher education was reviewed and seen as significant in that if the environment promotes diversity, there may be a climate which facilitates developing innovative multicultural teaching competencies and methodologies.

The researchers set out to examine factors associated with multicultural teaching competencies. Their study addressed four significant research questions: (1) What is the predictive quality of multicultural education on multicultural teaching competencies? (2) Can social justice orientation uniquely predict multicultural teaching competency? (3) Can a multicultural environment uniquely predict multicultural teaching competency? (4) Can educator engagement predict multicultural teaching competency? (Mena and Rogers, 2017). One question that came to mind surrounding the research questions is if there are differences between the necessary attributes of a multiculturally competent counselor educator and those of a multiculturally competent psychologist. This article speaks to psychologists which is fitting because numerous counselor education programs allow psychologists to teach multicultural courses.


Using hierarchical multiple regression analyses, the researchers selected a nationwide sample (n=78) of psychology faculty members who teach multicultural courses to study factors impacting multicultural competence of psychology educators. Included in the study were 55 (70.5%) women, 22 (28.2%) men, and one (1.3%) self-identified “cisgender” individual. 40 (51.3%) individuals identified as European American, 10 (12.8%) individuals identified as Latin*, eight (10.3%) identified as African American, two (2.6%) were Native American Indian, and five (63.4%) indicated no racial background (Mena & Rogers, 2017). Purposeful sampling was utilized to recruit doctoral-level faculty with teaching experience in multicultural courses. Recruitment invitations were placed on information boards at conferences and distributed in person. Snowball and targeted sampling methodologies were also utilized to obtain participants.


Four sets of hierarchical multiple regressions were conducted to test the predictive value of multicultural teaching competencies. Dependent variables were the MTCI-Knowledge and MTCI-Sensitivity. Utilizing the MTCI scale, Social Desirability and multicultural education/training were significant predictors and held positive associations to MTCI-Sensitivity. Among the social justice variables, SJS-Behavioral Intentions was a significant predictor with positive associations to MTCI-Sensitivity. Regression with MTCI-Sensitivity presents a possible positive correlation between social desirability. Motivation to grow, learn and improve was shown to be a significant predictor and have a positive association to MTCI-Sensitivity. MEI-R Honesty in Recruitment was a significant predictor with a positive association with MTCI-Knowledge. The following regressions yielded no significant results: MTCI-Knowledge as the dependent variable with social desirability as a covariate and MTCI-Knowledge as the dependent variable with social desirability as a covariate.


The researchers found significant trends surrounding predictability. Social justice orientation was found to be a predictor of multicultural teaching competencies associated with being knowledgeable about other cultures, values, and worldviews. The findings of this study also suggest faculty members who are most committed to addressing social inequities are those who are most informed about the inequities and their cultural context. The researchers also found that faculty members who reported greater social justice orientation were also more culturally sensitive. The research further indicates multicultural teaching competence and social justice orientation are separate but related constructs.

Recommendations for future research

This study highlights professional experiences, attitudes, and qualities associated with multicultural competencies of the experienced educators who participated in this study. Also, because not all multicultural educators took multicultural classes while earning their degrees, the researchers recommend multicultural educators receive support from their institutions to engage in training opportunities to complement their instruction. The researchers also recommend multicultural psychology educators engage in reflexive practice to increase awareness of social justice orientation. The study findings suggest it would be advantageous for educators to review the weaknesses of their programs and engage in honest discussion about necessary improvements regarding keeping students interested and engaged in multicultural learning. Lastly, this study highlights the need for additional research regarding educator attributes and how those attributes impact teaching competencies.

Implications of research findings

Although this study was created and designed by psychologists and addressed psychologists rather than counselor educators, the research still provides insight into the desirable attributes found in multiculturally competent counselor educators. The research could have been stronger with the utilization of a larger sample size because a larger sample size may have increased the generalizability of the study. Perhaps a longer recruitment period would allow for more participants which may also have increased the generalizability of the study. Also, greater impact could be achieved for the counseling profession if the participants were counselor educators instead of psychologists. Additionally, this study relied on self-reporting of faculty member perceptions, and self-reporting can be subjective and difficult to quantify.

This study has impacted my paradigm of counselor educators in the context of cultural competence and social justice orientation because until reading this article I had a concept of social justice orientation but was unable to verbalize it. Nor could I distinguish the attributes of a competent multicultural educator. As a result of this study, I am motivated to continue challening myself to encompass the attributes of a multiculturally competent counselor educator. This article has provided deep learning for me in the context of knowing how social justice orientation can inform multiculturally competent teaching. I will utilize this information to continue to deepen my knowledge and appreciation of other cultures, beliefs, and worldviews.

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Social Justice Orientation and Multicultural Environment. (2019, Jun 27). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 14, 2021, from
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