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The journey toward understanding whiteness among student affairs professionals an action research study in anti-racist education /

by Kirshman, Andrea Orwig.

Abstract (Summary)
The purpose of this study was to develop a program aimed at increasing an understanding of whiteness among student affairs professionals, and to examine the process of how they attempted to understand whiteness and white privilege while participating in the program and while dealing with diversity issues on campus. This was an action research study intended: to develop and implement a program for student affairs professionals to understand whiteness as an important component of anti-racist education; and to examine their process of coming to understand whiteness during the program itself and their own perceptions of the process shortly after the program was over. Since this study investigated the process of how student affairs professionals attempted to understand whiteness and white privilege while dealing with diversity issues on campus, it was critical action research that represented an appropriate research design for utilization. Individual semi-structured interviews and a focus group were the main data collection methods used in this study. The findings of this action research study were presented in conjunction with the fourstep action research cycle (plan, act, observe, and reflect) in order to illustrate and support the action research process. The findings presented were discussed in light of three themes: race and whiteness: the absent presence, learning in action, and making it personal. The discussion of these themes attempted to highlight two specific areas of this study that were worth further examination. First, a further look at how the concepts of whiteness and white privilege were included in the study as not only learning material, but also how these concepts operated as an ever-present invisible social construction. Second, the value of incorporating a critical or engaged pedagogy was considered followed by a discussion of the unexpected merits of utilizing an action research iv methodology. The findings of the study were further considered with regard to the implications of the study for practice. There were several implications of the findings for the practices of adult education and student affairs that can be considered in light of this study. They included: the importance of including whiteness in anti-racist education, the value of professional development, the need to discuss white identity, the value of including participants of color, the role of time, and an ongoing awareness about the impact of whiteness on findings. As well as future iterations of the action research cycle with the participants included in this study, future research should replicate this study to consider findings with other participants as well. It should also investigate additional program materials, additional ways to support group interactions, and different program models that have a lesser time commitment but still value participant discussion. v
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School:Pennsylvania State University

School Location:USA - Pennsylvania

Source Type:Master's Thesis

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