Society is becoming more diverse, creating a need for cultural proficiency and critical consciousness. Therefore, attention has been given to studying current areas of growth in education and employability in preparation for 21st century, global, living, learning, and working environments. The need for cultural proficiency and critical consciousness is imperative for progressive societies. Both, cultural proficiency and critical consciousness have the ability to strengthen 21st century, global skills in the next generation of citizens. In preparing a 21st century, global, citizenry, understanding one’s own culture and the cultures around him/her is critical. Living, learning, and working environments continue to become more diverse. Consequently, cultural proficiency, in all citizens, is important to create positive and affirming relationships between individuals with differing cultures.
In this series of studies, the researcher used qualitative methodologies to begin describing how understanding one’s own culture, continuous immersion and reflection experiences, and culturally responsive teaching techniques lead to a culturally responsive citizenry. To begin, the researcher sought to describe undergraduate students’ movement along Cross’s Cultural Proficiency Continuum (CPC), using evidence provided through service-learning experiences, weekly journal entries, and in-class written reflection essays associated with a 14-week general education course. By conducting this study, the researcher was able to identify evidence of participants’ positive movement along Cross’s CPC in a short amount of time. Thus, it was concluded that through purposeful, intensive, engagement activities, students are able to develop cultural proficiency skills that will lead them to culturally responsive citizenship.
In the second study, the researcher sought to describe student perceptions of the immersion model for pre-service teacher preparation currently being utilized as part of the professional pre-service block experience. Pre-service teachers engage in the block experience the semester prior to student teaching in the Agriscience Education degree program at The Ohio State University. In this study, participants completed pre- and post- reflections for each teaching immersion experience, in addition to group and individual interviews. Through the findings, the researcher concluded that the current immersion model currently used increases pre-service teachers’ comfort levels when engaged in each immersion experience. However, more thorough information needs provided to future pre-service teachers in all settings of the immersion model to ease feelings of stress.
Finally, in the third study of the series, the researcher sought to describe pre-service, secondary, public school, agriscience teachers’ perceptions of their preparation to teach diverse underrepresented populations. The study consisted of a self-contained focus group protocol, in which participants identified diversity immersion programming they participated in as students at The Ohio State University. In addition, students provided perceptions related to diverse underrepresented populations and their preparation to work with these populations in the future. The researcher concluded that students did not perceive themselves to be adequately prepared for working with diverse underrepresented populations. Pre-service agriscience teachers interviewed focused primarily on racial differences when discussing diversity and underrepresented populations. Their responses indicated that more awareness related to these concepts need emphasized in pre-service programs, to prepare teachers for culturally responsive teaching.