Date of Award

Fall 12-18-2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Social Work (DSW)

First Advisor

Phyllis Solomon, PhD

Second Advisor

Joretha Bourjolly, PhD

Third Advisor

Jack B. Lewis, DSW



Problem: Cultural differences between social workers and clients impede effective helping. The CSWE requires accredited social work programs to provide effective cross-cultural learning opportunities.

Objectives: This study examined cross-cultural immersion as a pedagogical approach for cultural competence compared to the usual instructional method in terms of awareness, knowledge, and skills.

Design: Employing a quasi-experimental nonequivalent comparison group design, the study measured the effectiveness of cross-cultural immersion experiences by comparing two groups of students. The comparison group (n=6) received instruction as usual through didactic teaching methods and on-campus cross-cultural experiences. The intervention group (n=12) had ten hours of off-campus cross-cultural immersion experiences with didactic teaching methods. Baseline and posttest surveys were administered online.

Setting: Participants were undergraduate students enrolled in a fifteen week Social Work course.

Measures: Demographic information was gathered pre-intervention. A modified Multicultural Awareness Knowledge and Skills Survey (MAKSS) was used to determine level of cultural competence pre- and post-intervention.

Data Analysis: T-tests were used to test whether the groups were equal on pretest scores and socio-demographic characteristics. Experimental and comparison groups were compared by outcomes of three subscales of MAKSS using T-tests. Linear regressions were conducted to determine if overall MAKSS scores differed between the groups when controlling for pre-intervention scores.

Findings: Overall MAKSS scores revealed effectiveness of both instructional methods. The intervention group had significantly higher skills scores than the comparison group. Groups did not differ on knowledge, awareness, and total MAKSS.

Conclusion: Despite high attrition, preliminary results offer promising considerations for social work education.



The word "awarenesses" is used fifteen times throughout this dissertation. The use of the word "awarenesses" is intentionally plural. It is used throughout the paper referring to new realizations.


The term has been used in social science and education literature dating back to the early 1900s and as recently as 2014. These researchers and authors use the term to refer to early or beginning states of knowledge (i.e. perception, discernment, insight) and the processes associated with attaining knowledge. It is understood that people can have multiple awarenesses as they are becoming familiar with concepts and developing knowledge about themselves, others, culture, tenets, and techniques. This process of learning is not linear; it is messy, uncoordinated, and disjointed, but it is happening purposefully. The learner is aware of more than one facet of a concept at a time as she or he is continuing to learn about and understand the concept. There are different and multiple layers of understanding that occur during the process. The learner has more than one awareness. These are separate awarenesses. The term is used in this paper in the same way that previous authors have used it. Also, since self-awareness and other awareness together are elements of cultural competence, using the plural captures both.

Included in

Social Work Commons