An Assessment of Cultural Competence Factors in Relation to a Study Abroad Experience with Library and Information Science Students Tine Walczyk [email protected] 10015 Lake Creek Pkwy, #818 Austin, TX 78729 512-445-5802 Barbara Schultz-Jones, Ph.D., Assistant Professor [email protected] College of Information, Department of Library and Information Sciences 1155 Union Circle #311068 Denton, TX 76203-5017 940-369-8081 Proposal Narrative Introduction Many standards in librarianship originate from the United States, from either the American Library Association (ALA) or the Library of Congress (LoC). Among these are LC Subject Headings, LCCN, Dewey, and the emerging RDA. Each of these standards influences collections and information retrieval at the cataloging level. This influence is pervasive and dictates how materials are categorized and organized. These standards are routinely adopted around the world as “best practices”. ALA has also established criteria for librarians and paraprofessionals within the US. Are these “the” best practices? Are western biases being instilled into librarianship? How do these ingrained ways of operating affect western librarians in their interactions with other countries? What biases do western librarians exhibit that cause them to be at odds with their international community? How can building cultural competence in library schools mitigate these biases? Statement of Problem Increasingly, we live in a global environment; “A true international perspective is crucial to achieving strong research results and creating understanding among cultures” (Arboleda, 2001, p. 162). Learning to approach people from different countries and cultures can only make for better prepared librarians. Western bias must be reduced within the field of librarianship; likewise, cultural competence at the cognitive, interpersonal, and environmental levels must be developed (Monteil-Overall, 2009). This study provides a groundbreaking opportunity to study these factors of cultural competence during its establishment/expansion in library and information science (LIS) students who are engaged in a study abroad program. Comparing LIS students before and after visiting an international library provides a dataset to start this exploration and may possibly lead to the foundation for requiring an international experience or courses in cultural competence in western librarianship programs. Background and Literature Review In the fall of 2009, a class-project study using participant observation and interviews was conducted. In this instance, the researcher served as complete participant. An interview guide was constructed and informal interviews were conducted. A call for interviewees was sent out after the experience. Three participants volunteered to be interviewed. These post-experience, consented interviews were conducted within two weeks of returning. They were transcribed and coded, resulting in rich data. A structured analysis was conducted of participant interviews conducted after the international experience. Six main themes were found: acknowledged environmental factors influencing their perceptions, situations being better than expected, situations seemingly surprisingly not different from their accustomed norm, situations of departure for US practice, personal and professional stereotypes, and noticeable changes within the participant as a result of the experience. Each participant showed a degree of change in their world view as a result of the trip. Not only did their opinions of what they thought the conditions might be like but they also gained an adjustment to viewing their present situation in the United States. Monteil-Overall (2009) developed a model to demonstrate how cultural competencies could be developed in librarianship. She believed that “a primary goal in proposing a framework of cultural competence for the LIS profession is to improve services to and increase library use by diverse groups” (p. 190). This model (see Appendix) presented cultural competence as deriving from three main factors: cognitive, interpersonal, and environmental. The cognitive factors addressed how the individual thought of their own cultural and whether they felt “connected” to it. Interpersonal factors were observed by how individuals interacted with and responded to other cultures and cultural norms. Finally, environmental factors involved placing a culture within its own setting in order to gain a full picture of its circumstances (Monteil-Overall, 2009). The application of this model to a study abroad experience offers the opportunity to extend the original research. Research Design and Methodology In an effort to assess how an international experience designed to increase cultural competence can mitigate western bias in librarianship, a qualitative research study is proposed. Using qualitative methods, the researcher hopes first, to set a baseline for the cognitive, interpersonal, and environmental cultural competencies presented in Monteil-Overall’s model (2009); second, observe what biases arise during the experience and classify them according to cultural competencies; and third, see whether they can be mitigated through international exposure. Unfortunately, qualitative analysis is fraught with opportunities for researcher biases or unintentional effects on the study. As a safe guard to these issues, multiple tools will be used. “The use of more than one method is the best corrective against contamination ‘because each method reveals different aspects of empirical reality’ (Denzin as quoted by Zinn, 1979, p. 217). An extended case method will be used. As explained by Burawoy (1998), “the extended case method applies reflexive science to ethnography in order to extract the general from the unique, to move from the ‘micro’ to the macro’, and to connect the present to the past in anticipation of the future, all by building on preexisting theory” (p. 5). Additionally, he explains that reflexive science is “a model of science that embraces not detachment but engagement as the road to knowledge” (p. 5). This method will allow the researcher to incorporate the full experience of the intervention into the findings. The research to be conducted is designed to resemble a qualitative pre and post test. Immediately preceding and following the trip, participants will be “surveyed” at times convenient to their schedules. During the experience observations will be conducted in situ. These surveys, participant observation, and interviews will be conducted within the framework of an extended case method. First, the participant survey will assess opinions and thoughts about the Ukraine’s libraries by LIS master’s degree students before being exposed to them. Second, “the goal for design of research using participant observation as a method is to develop a holistic understanding of the phenomena under study that is objective and accurate as possible given the limitations of the method” (DeWalt & DeWalt as quoted by Kawulich, 2005, Section 4). The researcher will serve as an active participant in the experience and observations of other participants will be conducted with their knowledge. This type of participant observation will allow for real-time recording of observations and informal interviews. Third, formal interviews will be conducted upon returning to the US to capture any changes/increase in cultural competence that may have transpired as a result of the trip. Approval Approval for this study will need to be obtained at multiple levels. First, since this study will require the participation of human subjects, IRB approval will be secured. Second, gatekeepers for the program include faculty members responsible for the Study Abroad experience, the Ukrainian host librarians and administrators, and potentially any in-country guides. Third, informed consent of the individual participants will be obtained through the initial survey process. Participant Population and Selection UNT’s Library and Information Science department offers a course entitled “Managing Library Automation Projects”. This course is a three-week international field experience for students. This year they “have been invited by the Kyiv International School in Kyiv, Ukraine to assess the system implementation of Follett's library automation software product, Destiny. The project involves organizing the school library, completing the migration of all bibliographic records and patron information, adding new resources to the Destiny OPAC, and providing training to the school librarian and teachers” (SLIS 5750, para. 25). This provides a unique opportunity to study international experiences of US library students first-hand, as they become intimately aware of the daily workings of an international library and its cultural setting. A sample of at least half of the students will be selected from the class. Selection criteria will consist of being actively working in a library and having not worked internationally previously. All participants meeting these criteria will be given the opportunity to participate in the study. All respondents will be required to participate in all three phases of the research. Data Types and Collection As a result of the research process, multiple data types will be generated. Observation data in the form of direct observations, informal interviews, and participant journal entries will be collected. Formal interviews will provide valuable data. All of these data types will be paired with a priori survey data. A survey will be distributed and collected by the faculty member (or their designate) and not given to the researcher until after the delegation has concluded in order to avoid initial bias of the researcher. Survey answers will be coded and used as data point 1. During each of the three weeks in Kyiv, the researcher will record observations, conduct informal interviews, and maintain a personal experiences journal. These data will be data point 2. Upon returning from their trip, each participant will be interviewed and voice recorded. These interviews will be transcribed. Coded answers will serve as data point 3. NVivo will be used to record and organize each of the data points. Importance and Expected Benefits of Research Of particular interest to the researcher are identifying changes in thinking (biases) that occur as a result of participating in international experiences. Typical demographic factors, cultural competency factors and many themes (nodes) will be derived through the analysis. Once the factors and themes are identified and analyzed, they will be used to look at other dependant variables including time in the profession, previous international experiences, funding source, and purpose of participating. Each one of these variables may shed some light on which groups of library students would benefit most from an international experience. As a result, recommendations for future research on integrating cultural competencies into library education will be substantiated. In summary, this project seeks to actualize Monteil-Overall’s Cultural Competencies Model during a library school international experience to provide a path for increasing the “cultural awareness within the profession to meet the needs of a growing population of diverse library users” (2009, p. 175). The plan to meet this goal includes: 1. Survey Design and Delivery: We will use Survey Monkey (www.surveymonkey.com) to develop the survey, deliver through paper and enter after the experience. 2. Survey Analysis: We will analyze the survey results using Survey Monkey’s quantitative facility. 3. In situ Observation: Researcher will take notes and conduct informal interviews during the experience. 4. Interview Design: We will use findings from the survey analysis to guide the development of an interview instrument. 5. Formal Interviews: After the completion of the experience, participants will be phone interviewed. 6. Interview Analysis: We will analyze the results of the interviews using a qualitative text software package, NVivo8. 7. Report Preparation and Dissemination: We will summarize the results from the various data sources in a report to be disseminated widely on the faculty member’s website and through journal article and conference submissions. References Arboleda, A. (2001). The Gutenberg syndrome: An illusion of international research. Journal of Scholarly Publishing. 155-163. Burawoy, M. (1998). The extended case method. Sociological Theory, 16(1). 4-33. Kawulich, B. (2005). Participant observation as a data collection method. Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 6(2). Art. 43. Knowlton, S. (2005). Three decades since Prejudices and Antipathies: A study of changes in the Library of Congress subject headings. Cataloging & Classification Quarterly, 40(2). 123145. Monteil-Overall, P. (2009). Cultural competence: A conceptual framework for library and information science professionals. Library Quarterly, 79(2), 175-204. Schultz-Jones, B. (2010). SLIS 5750: Syllabus. Retrieved from UNT Blackboard website: http://ecampus.unt.edu. Schultz-Jones, B. (2010, January). Cultural competence in international school libraries and library education. Panel presentation at the Association for Library and Information Science Education (ALISE) annual conference, Boston, MA. Schultz-Jones, B. (n.d.). Courses. Retrieved from: http://courses.unt.edu/bjones/BSJCoursePage.html Zinn, M. (1979). Field research in minority communities: Ethical, methodological and political observations by an insider. Social Problems, 27(2). 209-219.