Multiculturalism in Developmental Education

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Multiculturalism in Developmental Education

The fourth annually published independent monograph sponsored by the Center for Research on Developmental Education and Urban Literacy, General College, University of Minnesota.
Jeanne L. Higbee

Dana Britt Lundell

Irene M. Duranczyk

Holly Choon Hyang Pettman

Assistant Editor
Karen A. Bencke

Cover Design & Layout

Copyright © 2003 by the Center for Research on Developmental Education and Urban Literacy, General College, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of the publisher.

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This publication/material can be made available in alternative formats for people with disabilities. Direct requests to Dana Lundell, General College, 333 Appleby Hall, 128 Pleasant Street SE, Minneapolis, MN, 55455, 612-626-8706.
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Introduction 5
Jeanne L. Higbee

The Centrality of Multiculturalism in Developmental Education 9

Karen L. Miksch, Patrick L. Bruch, Jeanne L. Higbee, Rashné R. Jehangir, and Dana Britt Lundell

Walking the Talk: Using Learning-Centered Strategies to Close Performance Gaps 20

Donna McKusick and Irving Pressley McPhail

Creating Access Through Universal Instructional Design 34

Karen S. Kalivoda

Multicultural Legacies for the 21st Century: A Conversation with James A. Banks 46

Patrick L. Bruch, Jeanne L. Higbee, and Dana Britt Lundell

Is there a Role for Academic Achievement Tests in Multicultural Developmental Education? 56

Thomas Brothen and Cathrine Wambach

The Triumphs and Tribulations of a Multicultural Concerns Committee 65

David L. Ghere

MultiCultural Development Center (MCDC): Sharing Diversity 75

Ghafar A. Lakanwal and Holly Choon Hyang Pettman

Summary Report on the Third National Meeting on Future Directions in Developmental Education:

Grants, Research, Diversity, and Multiculturalism 80
Dana Britt Lundell

Report of the Future Directions Meeting Multicultural Themes Track 87

Jeanne L. Higbee and Holly Choon Hyang Pettman


Call for Submissions, Best Practices for Access and Retention in Higher Education 95

Editorial Board

Karen S. Agee

University of Northern Iowa

Mesut Akdere

University of Minnesota

David Arendale

University of Minnesota

Carol Bader

Georgia College and State University

Hunter Boylan

Appalachian State University

Melanie Brown

University of Minnesota

Martha E. Casazza

National-Louis University

Carl Chung

University of Minnesota

MaryAnn K. Crawford

Central Michigan University

Irene M. Duranczyk

University of Minnesota

Chitralekha Duttagupta

Arizona State University

Shevawn B. Eaton

Northern Illinois University

Michelle Andersen Francis

Jamestown Community College

Patricia R. Grega

Xavier University of Louisiana

Randall Gwin

Minneapolis Community and Technical College

Earl J. Hawley

College of DuPage

Leon Hsu

University of Minnesota

Ellen Lewin

Minneapolis Community and Technical College

Holly Littlefield

University of Minnesota

James Long

Solano Community College

Patricia Malinowski

Finger Lakes Community College

Cynthia Martin

Community College of Denver

Patricia J. McAlexander

The University of Georgia

Caron Mellblom

California State University, Dominguez Hills

Karen Miksch

University of Minnesota

Randy Moore

University of Minnesota

Michael O’Hear

Indiana-Purdue-Ft. Wayne

Audrey Mike Parker

Davidson County Community College

Elana R. Peled

Harvard University

Susan M. Perlis

Marywood University

Susan Schaeffer

Washington State University

E. Stone Shiflet

University of South Florida

Bailey Smith

University of La Verne

Judith K. Taylor

Northern Kentucky University

Linda R. Thompson

Harding University

Karen S. Uehling

Boise State University

Maria Valeri-Gold

Georgia State University

Kathy Wellington

Metropolitan State University

William G. White, Jr.

Grambling State University

Ann A. Wolf

Metropolitan State College of Denver

Jeanne L. Higbee

Center for Research on Developmental Education and Urban Literacy

General College, University of Minnesota

For at least six decades (Arendale, 2002), developmental education programs and services in the U.S. have provided means to create access and enhance retention for populations of students that traditionally have been underrepresented in higher education (Hardin, 1988, 1998). Yet multiculturalism has seldom been addressed explicitly in our research and publications. Four years ago Pat Bruch and I conducted an exhaustive literature review on intersections between multiculturalism and developmental education in preparation for conducting an exploratory study within our own developmental education unit (Bruch & Higbee, 2002). When our electronic search yielded no results, we faulted the search engine and went directly to the source. Issue by issue, we examined the tables of contents for four of the primary journals in the field for the past 10 years. What we found were a smattering of articles related to serving students with a variety of disabilities, a few articles discussing English as a Second Language (ESL) programs, and an occasional mention of diverse learners or “minority” students, but virtually nothing related to multicultural learning and teaching. Meanwhile, the literature published by some other professional organizations with somewhat overlapping missions and goals (e.g., the Journal of College Student Development, a publication of the American College Personnel Association) is rich with articles addressing issues of race, religion, ethnicity, social class, gender, home language, age, sexual orientation, and disability as they pertain to higher education.

Let me make it clear that it is not our professional association’s journals or their editorial staffs that are to be faulted for this dearth of multicultural articles. Those of us working in developmental education who have the luxury of allocated research time and are rewarded for our publication records can only blame ourselves­—and I put myself at the top of the list—for failing to establish multiculturalism as a priority in our research and writing. Karen Miksch, one of our colleagues in the General College whose work is represented in this collection, coined a phrase two years ago that creates for me a visual image of the rightful place of multiculturalism in our work. Her vision, expressed in words, conceptualized “the centrality of multi-culturalism in developmental education.” This phrase offers a promise that is yet to be realized within our profession. The Center for Research on Developmental Education and Urban Literacy (CRDEUL) hopes that this monograph will serve as an impetus for making explicit connections between multicultural education and developmental education, not just in the practice of developmental education, but in its research and publications as well.

Monograph Contents

The first three chapters of this monograph provide models for integrating multiculturalism in develop-mental education. The monograph begins with “The Centrality of Multiculturalism in Developmental Education,” by Miksch, Bruch, Higbee, Jehangir, and Lundell, which highlights the Multicultural Awareness Project for Institutional Transformation (MAP IT) recently undertaken by a subcommittee of the General College’s (GC) Multicultural Concerns Committee (MCC). The next chapter, “Walking the Talk: Using Learning-Centered Strategies to Close Performance Gaps,” reminds us of the saying popularized in the 1960s at the height of the Civil Rights movement, “If you talk the talk, you better be prepared to walk the walk.” McKusick and McPhail provide specific ideas for enhancing academic achievement among all students through a learning-centered model for developmental education. In “Creating Access Through Universal Instructional Design,” Kalivoda discusses a recent model for inclusion for students with disabilities, and through her research findings addresses potential attitudinal barriers to implementing this model.

The remaining chapters in this monograph focus on conversations related to multiculturalism in developmental education, reported by our colleagues in the General College. The work of these authors reflects GC’s efforts to implement its multicultural mission. “Multicultural Legacies for the 21st Century,” by Bruch, Higbee, and Lundell, captures what began as an interview but evolved into a conversation with Dr. James A. Banks, a leading scholar in the field of multicultural education. “Is There a Role for Academic Achievement Tests in Multicultural Developmental Education?” continues another conversation, as Brothen and Wambach respond to Moore, Jensen, Hsu, and Hatch’s (2002) “Saving the ‘False Negatives’: Intelligence Tests, the SAT, and Developmental Education,” published in a previous CRDEUL monograph. Ghere’s chapter, “The Triumphs and Tribulations of a Multicultural Concerns Committee,” focuses on another conversation, documenting how a developmental education unit can facilitate the integration of multiculturalism in its work through the committee structure. Lakanwal and Pettman’s description of the “MultiCultural Development Center: Sharing Diversity” illustrates how these conversations can be expanded to embrace many constituencies and lead to local, regional, and national collaborations between higher education institutions and community organizations.

The final chapters of the monograph are intended to serve as proceedings for the Third National Meeting on Future Directions in Developmental Education, sponsored by CRDEUL in November, 2002. It is hoped that the conversations initiated at that meeting will be ongoing and result in recognition of the centrality of multiculturalism in developmental education in our programs and services; our individual teaching, research, and writing; and in our professional associations’ conferences and publications. Building upon this mission, we encourage you, the reader, to submit related manuscripts for consideration for publication in CRDEUL’s upcoming monograph, Best Practices in Access and Retention in Higher Education, for which the call for submissions is available at the end of this publication.


As editors, Dana, Irene, and I would like to acknowledge the following individuals who made this publication possible. First, we wish to express our appreciation to David Taylor, Dean of the General College, and Terence Collins, GC Director of Academic Affairs, for their continued financial and moral support of the Center for Research on Developmental Education and Urban Literacy and this monograph series. We also want to thank Holly Choon Hyang Pettman for her work as Assistant Editor for this project, and Karen Bencke, who has provided the cover design, layout, and formatting for each of the four monographs published to date in the CRDEUL series. We express our appreciation to the authors whose work is represented here for their attention to detail and timely responses to all deadlines. We also want to thank the members of our editorial board for their efforts in conducting the anonymous review of these manuscripts and providing helpful feedback in a professional and punctual manner. The Center for Research on Developmental Education and Urban Literacy also wishes to recognize the contributions of the following local, regional, and national leaders in the field of developmental education and learning support, who gave up a weekend last November to participate in the Future Directions Meeting: David Arendale, Carol Bader, Lois Bollman, Nancy Bornstein, Hunter Boylan, Thomas Brothen, Patrick Bruch, Martha Casazza, David Caverly, Herbert Chambers, Frank Christ, Carl Chung, Terence Collins, Mary Deming, Irene Duranczyk, Shevawn Eaton, David Ghere, Susan Hashway, Leon Hsu, Nancy Hugg, Walter Jacobs, Rashné Jehangir, Karen Kalivoda, Ann Ludlow, Barbara Lyman, Ross MacDonald, Karen Miksch, Randy Moore, Jane Neuburger, Emily Miller Payne, Holly Choon Hyang Pettman, Bruce Schelske, Sharyn Schelske, Norman Stahl, Gretchen Starks Martin, David Taylor, and Cathrine Wambach.

On a personal note, I want to take advantage of this opportunity to express my gratitude to the members of the General College’s Multicultural Concerns Committee, not only for their unflagging efforts to create an inclusive learning and working environment, but for assisting me in finding my niche during my first four years in GC and making it feel like home. And finally, I would like to dedicate this monograph to the memory of my mother, Charlotte Margaret Higbee, and others like her who fought the good fight when it was not only not politically correct to do so, but when taking a stand could have dire consequences both professionally and personally.


Arendale, D. R. (2002). Then and now: The early years of developmental education. Research and Teaching in Developmental Education, 18(2), 5-23.

Bruch, P. L., & Higbee, J. L. (2002). Reflections on multiculturalism in developmental education. Journal of College Reading and Learning, 33(1), 77-90.

Hardin, C. J. (1988). Access to higher education: Who belongs? Journal of Developmental Education, 12(1), 2-4, 6, 19.

Hardin, C. J. (1998). Who belongs in college: A second look. In J. L. Higbee & P. L. Dwinell (Eds.), Developmental education: Preparing successful college students (pp. 15-24). Columbia, SC: National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition, University of South Carolina.

Moore, R., Jensen, M., Hsu, L., & Hatch, J. (2002). Saving the “false negatives”: Intelligence tests, the SAT, and developmental education. In D. B. Lundell & J. L. Higbee (Eds.), Exploring urban literacy and developmental education (pp. 47-57). Minneapolis, MN: Center for Research on Developmental Education and Urban Literacy, General College, University of Minnesota.

The Centrality of Multiculturalism
in Developmental Education: Piloting the Multicultural Awareness Project for
Institutional Transformation (MAP IT)

Karen L. Miksch, Patrick L. Bruch, Jeanne L. Higbee,

Rashné R. Jehangir, and Dana Britt Lundell

University of Minnesota

This chapter provides a definition of multicultural education and explains why multiculturalism is central to developmental education. Having established theoretical aims, it then describes efforts to centralize multiculturalism via the Multicultural Awareness Project for Institutional Transformation (MAP IT). MAP IT is a pilot project developed at a four-year public research university with the goal of integrating developmental and multicultural education. As the acronym indicates, its aim is transformative. The chapter concludes by outlining a process to bring about a multicultural transformation in developmental education.

This chapter provides a definition of multicultural education and explains why multiculturalism is central to developmental education. Having established our theoretical aims, we then describe our efforts to centralize multiculturalism via the Multicultural Awareness Project for Institutional Transformation (MAP IT). MAP IT is a pilot project developed at a four-year public research university with the goal of integrating developmental and multicultural education. As the acronym indicates, our aim is transformative. We conclude by outlining the process through which we hope to bring about a multicultural transformation in developmental education.

The Centrality of Multiculturalism

To explain how multiculturalism is central to developmental education, first we must define what we mean by multicultural education. Often the terms diversity and multiculturalism (or multicultural education) are used interchangeably. However, we consider these to be distinct concepts, each of which is significant to the MAP IT Project.

Defining Diversity

Diversity signifies the simple recognition of the existence of different social group identities. For us, diversity includes a wider variety of social groups than race and ethnicity alone. Social group identifications such as home language, religion, gender, sexual orientation, social class, age, and disability, as well as race and ethnicity, are included within our definition. Numerous social science research studies provide evidence that admitting a diverse student body enhances learning for all students (Astin, 1993; Chang, 1999; Gurin, 2002; Maruyama, Nirebim, Gudeman, & Marin, 2000). Likewise, several recent court decisions relying on social science research determined that admitting students who belong to one or more of these categories is critical to the mission of higher education (Miksch, 2002). There is also growing evidence that diversity initiatives have increased the numbers of historically underrepresented students on many campuses (Hurtado, Milem, Clayton-Pedersen, & Allen, 1998; Smith & Schonfeld, 2000). However, fulfilling the promises of access and equity involves moving beyond diversity to multicultural education.

Defining Multiculturalism

If diversity is an empirical condition—the existence of multiple group identities in a society—multi-culturalism names a particular posture towards this reality. There are many definitions of multiculturalism and multicultural education. We build on the work of James Banks (2001), who defines multicultural education as, “an idea, an educational reform movement, and a process” (p. 2):

As an idea, multicultural education seeks to create equal educational opportunities for all students, including those from different racial, ethnic, and social-class groups. Multicultural education tries to create equal educational opportunities for all students by changing the total school environment so that it will reflect the diverse cultures and groups within society and within the nation’s classrooms. Multicultural education is a process because its goals are ideals that teachers and administrators should constantly strive to achieve. (p. 2)

What is important to us about Banks’ definition is that it explicitly moves beyond recognition of different social group membership (i.e., diversity) to advocate a method for transforming educational institutions so that they might more fully enable the participation of all citizens within our multicultural society. Exemplifying this transformative method, Lee Anne Bell and Pat Griffin (1997) advocate sequencing learning activities so that students move from a personal understanding of social group identity (e.g., diversity training) to an institutional or structural approach to social justice (multicultural education). According to Bell and Griffin, programs concerned with diversity focus on “helping students describe and understand their own experiences as members of different social groups and listen to others talk about their experiences and perspectives. The focus is on respecting, understanding, and acknowledging difference” (p. 55). The next step is to move toward a multicultural learning approach. “The concepts of dominance, social power and privilege are introduced to help students understand that difference is not neutral, that different social groups have greater or lesser access to social and personal resources and power” (p. 55). At this point, students are ready to deal with cultural and structural levels of inequality.

Ideally, multicultural education strives to build on the strengths and avoid the weaknesses of diversity plans. Evelyn Hu-DeHart (2003) eloquently critiques campus diversity plans that do not address cultural and institutional inequities. She notes:

differences are described as “natural,” hence normal and fixed; their main role is to provide positive experiences . . . [campus diversity plans] advise all of us who are different to learn to get along; we must help to create a “climate of healthy diversity,” in which “people value individual and group differences, respect the perspectives of others, and communicate openly.” In other words, diversity means good manners, now called civility, another key component of the corporate model that has pervaded our campuses. Nowhere does this definition state, or even hint or imply, that differences are socially and historically constructed and hierarchically arranged. Nor does it allow that most differences carry real and differential meanings regarding power and privilege. This corporate model lays the entire burden on individuals and their attitude and behavior, while absolving the institution of any responsibility for dealing with itself. It does so by studiously avoiding discussion of the structural inequalities that some of the itemized differences embody and convey, by failing to distinguish between individual and group differences, and by stressing the role of civility above all else in creating a diverse environment. (p. 2)

Multicultural education, as opposed to the diversity programs that Hu-DeHart describes, critically engages systems of hierarchy and institutional privilege that are often left out of notions of individual diversity and civility. Thus, within multicultural education the focus is on “several forms of difference [for example, race, class, home language, gender, sexual orientation, disability] that also define unequal positions of power in the United States” (Sleeter & Grant, 2003, p. iv). The emphasis on the links between forms of diversity and relations of power is the main factor differentiating multicultural education from diversity training.

The transformative agenda of multicultural education moves beyond celebrating diversity to providing meaningful access to all students. Multicultural education, described as transforming access, builds on the work of Christine Sleeter and Carl Grant (2003) who advocate “Education that is Multicultural and Social Reconstructionist” (p. 195):

Education that is Multicultural means that the entire educational program is redesigned to reflect the concerns of diverse cultural groups. Rather than being one of several kinds of education, it is a different orientation and expectation of the whole educational process . . . . The phrase Education that is Multicultural and Social Reconstructionist is adopted by educators who want to identify with a more assertive and transforming educational position. (p. 195)

Education that is multicultural and social reconstructionist deals directly with structural inequality and prepares all involved to transform society so that it better serves the interests of all groups, especially those groups who historically have been marginalized. The goal is to promote structural equity and cultural pluralism. Instruction, while involving students actively in decision making, builds on diverse learning styles and is collaborative. Further, it incorporates the skills and knowledge that students bring to the classroom.

Building on the insights of Sleeter and Grant (2003) and Hu-DeHart (2003), our view is that multicultural education must extend beyond the classroom and provide an agenda of transformation for better understanding the institution in terms of whom it includes and what it tries to accomplish. In other words, meaningful multiculturalism seeks to transform more than just the curriculum; it seeks to transform the institution. As Patrick Hill (1999) notes, “while the presence of persons of other cultures and subcultures is a virtual prerequisite to the transformation, their ‘mere presence’ is primarily a political achievement” (p. 228). It is not enough to add a requirement that each student take a diversity course in order to graduate, or to sprinkle multicultural courses throughout the curriculum. Hill argues, “marginalization will be perpetuated, if new voices and perspectives are added while the priorities and core of the organization remain unchanged” (p. 228). Rather than focusing exclusively on diversity and classroom issues, the work of higher education must be “reconceived to be unimplementable without the central participation of the currently excluded and marginalized” (Hill, p. 228). Develop-mental education, with its overt access mission, is situated to contribute to the reconceptualization of higher education in ways that see the participation of the currently marginalized and excluded as a central concern.

The Role of Developmental Education in Promoting Multiculturalism

Developmental education programs are well positioned to help institutions rethink their priorities because they provide access to groups of students who have historically been underrepresented. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) projected in 2002 that by the year 2012 there would be a 15% increase in the number of students enrolled in degree-granting institutions (U.S. Department of Education, 2002). Currently, women, adult students, and students of color are providing the greatest enrollment growth (Jehangir, 2002). According to the NCES National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (U.S. Department of Education, 2000), low-income students are more likely to take “remedial” courses than middle and upper income students. During the 2000 school year, a higher percentage of students of color than White students took remedial courses. As Rashné Jehangir (2002) notes, however:

The overlap between developmental students and students of color, students with disabilities, and adult students is made not to equate developmental education with these groups but to suggest that developmental education plays a role in creating access to public higher education. (p. 22)

The overlap between developmental students and diverse students is just one reason multicultural education must be made central to developmental education. As Patrick Bruch and Jeanne Higbee (2002) have argued, multicultural education offers to developmental educators the enabling insight that inequities of group power that obstruct access for many developmental students are not timeless truths that people are powerless to change. Instead, power relations are “socially constructed and maintained through revisable personal and institutional practices” (p. 77). The difficulty, Bruch and Higbee note, is that very little research has been done to determine how multicultural theory can be applied and turned into practice in the field of developmental education. The MAP IT Project is one attempt to fill that gap.

The Multicultural Awareness Project for Institutional Transformation

The Multicultural Awareness Project for Institutional Transformation has culminated in a comprehensive set of guiding principles and survey instruments designed to underscore the centrality of multiculturalism in higher education. The 10 Guiding Principles for Multicultural Awareness and Institutional Transformation (Miksch, Higbee, Jehangir, Lundell, Bruch, & Barajas, 2003) are reproduced as Figure 1. The Guiding Principles incorporate both notions of diversity and multiculturalism. The principles define diversity broadly to include home language, sexual orientation, and disability, as well as race, ethnicity, religion, social class, age, and gender. These principles go beyond advocating for diversity to include our understanding of multicultural education. Thus, the Guiding Principles include the links between forms of diversity and relations of power and advocate for meaningful access to higher education for all students. The survey is divided into three instruments: one for faculty and instructional staff, another for administrators, and a third for advisors and other student support service staff members (Miksch, Higbee, Jehangir, Lundell, Bruch, Siaka, & Dotson, 2003). Each set of questions relates to a particular principle and measures either attitudes about the principle or implementation of the principle.

The MAP IT Guiding Principles and survey instruments are an adaptation of Diversity Within Unity: Essential Principles for Teaching and Learning in a Multicultural Society (Banks et al., 2001). Diversity Within Unity endorsed 12 essential principles for successful primary and secondary school systems (K 12). Also included in the report is a checklist designed to be used by K-12 practitioners to determine the extent to which their institutions and environments are consistent with the essential principles. The purpose of MAP IT was to adapt Diversity Within Unity for use in institutions of higher education.

MAP IT is a subcommittee of the Multicultural Concerns Committee (MCC), an ad hoc committee within a developmental education unit. The MCC was founded in 1989 to promote the unit’s overt multicultural mission and the MAP IT project is a continuation of the committee’s work to bring about meaningful multiculturalism within developmental education. Dr. James Banks, lead author of Diversity Within Unity, gave permission to the MCC to both adapt the Diversity Within Unity principles and to pilot a survey in a developmental education program to see how to use the checklist at institutions of higher education.

Our first step was a literature review to determine if there were existing instruments for use in higher education. Although we reviewed a number of existing studies, most were aimed at measuring campus climate, professional development, or commitment to multiculturalism individually, rather than combining these measurements in one instrument (Association of American Colleges and Universities, 2002). Most of the existing instruments were geared for use with faculty or students, and none of the existing instruments were geared for use with faculty, administrators, advisors, and student support staff. We also reviewed the literature on multicultural education within developmental education journals and within the general field of education and determined that much of the existing literature and studies were related to K-12 education. Thus, we decided that a comprehensive set of guiding principles and a survey instrument geared to institutions of higher education was needed.

Working collaboratively, we went line-by-line through the Diversity Within Unity checklist, and adapted the language to make it applicable to higher education. In February 2002 when our pilot survey was complete, we sent an e-mail communication to all unit employees, asking them to complete the MAP IT Pilot Survey online. A paper and pencil version of the survey was also made available to all faculty and staff. Each set of questions allowed the respondent to type in a narrative response. A request for comments on the overall pilot survey was also provided at the end of the instrument.

The online Pilot Survey responses were analyzed by the MAP IT team and incorporated into the final MAP IT survey instruments. The revised series of survey instruments are each shorter than the pilot questionnaire, and geared toward three major employment categories (i.e., instructors, student services, and administration) to reflect the feedback received. A parallel student survey has also been developed (Miksch, Higbee, Jehangir, Lundell, Bruch, Siaka, & Dotson, 2003). In addition to using the pilot data to improve the survey instrument, the authors have also completed quantitative and qualitative analyses of the responses (Bruch, Jehangir, Lundell, Higbee, & Miksch, 2003; Higbee, Miksch, Jiang, Jehangir, Lundell, & Bruch, 2003.).

MAP IT Quantitative Results

The faculty response rate for this study was 65% (n=21), and the professional and academic (P&A) staff response rate was 50% (n=25). Other employment categories (e.g., civil service staff, graduate assistants) had significantly lower response rates. Although it is important to be cautious when drawing conclusions based on such a small sample, overall the results of the MAP IT Pilot Study were very positive. For example, in response to the question, “Do admissions policies allow for enrollment of students from diverse backgrounds?” the mean was 4.70 on a five-point Likert-type scale where 5 signified “always or almost always,” and 1 indicated “almost never or never.” For another question that asked, “Are students given opportunities to have meaningful contact with students from diverse groups?” the mean was 4.21. “Are the students taught about how stereotyping and categorization can result in prejudice and discrimination?” yielded a mean response of 4.20. The mean response for “Is advocacy around multicultural issues central to the student services mission?” was 4.41. Items yielding lower means included:

1. “Do faculty, staff, and students set ground rules together to engage in meaningful and safe dialogue around difference?” (M=3.70).

2. “Does GC provide appropriate role models for all students?” (M=3.50).

3. “Do teaching strategies accommodate diverse student interests and learning styles?” (M=3.80).

4. “Do faculty and staff in GC help students to acquire the social skills that are needed to interact effectively within a multicultural educational community?” (M=3.83).

5. “Do students have a role in decision making in GC?” (M=2.52).

These items pointed out some very specific ways in which the General College could improve its teaching, learning, and working environment for all of its constituencies.

Items that referred to institutional policies tended to yield lower means than similar items that addressed General College procedures and practices. For example, the mean for “Do University of Minnesota policies encourage the use of multiple ways of assessing student learning that are culturally sensitive and that measure complex cognitive and social skills?” was 2.82. Meanwhile, when asked, “Does assessment within the General College go beyond traditional measures of subject matter knowledge to include critical thinking?” the mean was 3.86.

The members of the Multicultural Concerns Committee are in agreement that the quantitative data from the MAP IT Pilot Survey did not yield many surprises. What is important is what the General College chooses to do with this data. Concrete steps can be taken to address the areas in which improvement is needed.

MAP IT Qualitative Results

In addition to the quantitative prompts, the MAP IT checklist offered GC respondents a place (i.e., a box in the online format) to type in open-ended comments related to each set of questions. This was included as a means to gain feedback both about the usefulness of the survey tool itself and participants’ feedback and insights about the content of each of the main principles. The data was thematically examined to identify “discussion points” for further conversation, to be used as a launching point for members of the community to converse about the Guiding Principles.

In an article presenting the results of the project’s qualitative analysis (Bruch, Jehangir, Lundell, Higbee, & Miksch , 2003), the relationship of the participants’ voices and viewpoints to one another within the context of the community itself was specifically examined. This included a visual diagram recognizing the interaction of two overarching themes or participant vantage points called “Location” and “Ideology” that were used to view the “Principles and Practices” in the community around multiculturalism. “Location and Ideology” are the ways that individuals perceive themselves in relation to the principles, practices, and power in their academic community, as well as how they construct the purposes of education in society. This provided a theoretical framework for an interpretation of the comments where they could be framed as discussion points for conversation and change rather than merely as discreet analytical themes. This led to thematic concepts such as “employment,” “knowledge about the issues,” and “proximity to power” as some key ways in which individuals provided their own reading of the principles and survey questions within the Location and Ideology framework.

An outcome of the qualitative analysis, in addition to identifying these concepts and themes, was to put forward these discussion points for future conversation, specifically noting that conversations about the “right” way to promote the principles should become more situated within a context and viewed in relation to the perspectives of other individuals in the community as meanings about multiculturalism are negotiated.

The MAP IT Process

In order to bring about meaningful transformation we realized it was crucial to present the quantitative and qualitative findings to the community so that conversations of respect could continue within the developmental education unit. Dr. James Banks met with the members of MCC in May 2002 to discuss the preliminary results of the pilot study. He encouraged us to disseminate the pilot results and make the survey instrument widely available. At the forum with Dr. Banks, all members of MCC were invited and provided valuable feedback on the instrument. During Fall 2002 we presented our findings at an open meeting to all members of the developmental education unit.

In order to engage in a conversation with other developmental educators, we also presented our results at the annual College Reading and Learning Association (CRLA) conference in Minneapolis (Bruch, Miksch, Lundell, Jehangir, & Higbee, 2002) and the annual conference of the National Association for Developmental Education (NADE; Higbee & Lundell, 2003).

The MAP IT pilot project also resulted in a number of areas for future discussion within the developmental education unit where it was tested. The results underscored the need for an ongoing conversation about the meaning of multiculturalism and what kind of access we are hoping to provide. We do not expect to reach one definition of multicultural education and access. Rather, through constructive controversy (Johnson, Johnson, & Smith, 2000), we hope to work together to transform the institution. What role students should play in decision making within the developmental unit is another area in which we hope to facilitate an ongoing dialogue. Student voices and perspectives must be included in the multicultural transformation process. One formal way we plan to include students is by administering and discussing a student survey incorporating the 10 Guiding Principles for Institutional Transformation (Higbee & Dotson, 2003; Miksch, Higbee, Jehangir, Lundell, Bruch, Siaka, & Dotson, 2003).

As the discussion above illustrates, our use of the MAP IT Guiding Principles and survey instruments within the developmental education unit where we work is ongoing. Too often, diversity surveys are conducted, reports are written, yet nothing is done with the results. For meaningful transformation to take place, it is crucial that as developmental educators we continue an ongoing dialogue about the centrality of multiculturalism in higher education.


How will we make multicultural education central to developmental education? What will the transformed institution look like? It is more than just making sure all voices have access and are heard, although this is critical. Institutions should be concerned with “neutralizing the impact of unshared power in teaching and research” (Hill, 1999, p. 229). MAP IT attempts not only to neutralize the impact of unshared power, but also to help teachers and learners transform their institutions. With that in mind, MAP IT highlights three stages of multiculturalism (Bruch, Miksch, Lundell, Jehangir, & Higbee, 2002; Bruch, Jehangir, Jacobs, & Ghere, 2003). The first phase is celebratory multiculturalism, where the focus is on tolerance and celebration of diversity. Critical multiculturalism is the next stage and reveals group domination and privilege. The final step is transformative multiculturalism. MAP IT will provide developmental educators with one tool to help accomplish that transformation.

The goal is to redefine higher education and work toward meaningful access. We do not advocate a top down approach, imposed by the administration. Although it may accomplish important gains, there is often a backlash. Rather, we advocate a multicultural approach to institutional transformation, a process that will be inclusive, process oriented, and continuous.


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Walking the Talk: Using Learning-Centered Strategies to Close Performance Gaps

Donna McKusick

Irving Pressley McPhail

The Community College of Baltimore County

The learning paradigm provides a useful framework for insuring the academic success of underserved and underprepared diverse populations by emphasizing a constructivist philosophy and learning outcomes assessment. This chapter presents research-based best practices in closing the achievement gaps between majority and minority students and traces the journey of one learning-centered institution to close the achievement gap between African American and White students. Five strategies are addressed: (a) using professional development to retrain faculty and staff; (b) providing responsive, culturally-mediated instruction, (c) using culturally-attuned methods for academic preparation, (d) customizing student support services, and (e) creating a welcoming institutional climate.

A quiet revolution has been going on in colleges across the country. Institutions of higher education are shifting their focus from the institution to the learner. According to Barr and Tagg (1995), “Subtly but profoundly we are shifting to a new paradigm: A college is an institution that exists to produce learning. This shift changes everything” (p. 13). The learning paradigm distinguishes itself from the instructional paradigm in a number of ways that are important to serving the needs of diverse learners (Barr & Tagg). The essential nature of knowledge and the learning process are challenged in the learning paradigm. Whereas, in the instructional paradigm, knowledge is viewed as an absolute entity outside of the life of the learner, in the learning paradigm, knowledge is shaped by, constructed from, and connected to each learner’s background. In the learning paradigm, learning is a process in which knowledge is “nested” and connected rather than accumulated and stored. In the learning paradigm, learning environments are cooperative and collaborative, rather than individualistic and competitive. Finally, and most important, in the learning paradigm, talent and ability are abundant in all individuals. To quote Smilkstein (2002), “We’re born to learn!”

The Learning College and
At-Risk Students of Color

The tenets of the learning paradigm have an important relationship to the future of developmental students in the United States, who are becoming more culturally and ethnically diverse every day. In the beginning of the 1990s, about a third of developmental students were minorities (specifically African American and Hispanics), with the largest group as African Americans (Boylan, Bonham, Claxton, & Bliss, 1992). According to a recent study of developmental education by McCabe (2000), 20% of African American students enrolled in community colleges have seriously deficient skills; that is, they are placed in developmental reading, writing, and math, and assigned to a lower-level remedial course in at least one area. Only 5% of White students, however, come to community colleges with seriously deficient skills.

According to the U. S. Bureau of the Census (2001), in the next 50 years, minority populations including African Americans, Hispanics, American Indians, and Asians will increase as the White population decreases. African American and Hispanic students are more likely to be underserved by secondary and postsecondary institutions than are White students (McCabe, 2000). The Education Trust (2001), a nonprofit agency concerned with improving the education of populations who have been historically disenfranchised in the American school system, reports that by 12th grade, African American and Hispanic students in the American public school system are about four years behind other people on the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP). Gaps in performance between African American students and White students continue into postsecondary institutions (Harvey, 2002). The Education Trust’s research shows that African-Americans obtain college degrees at only half the rate of White students. The reasons for these gaps are many. Low expectations, lack of standards, lack of accountability, poor teaching, communication problems, and failure to address the specific learning styles of culturally and ethnically diverse students all appear to be major factors in perpetuating the performance gap between these students and White students (Education Trust, 2001; McPhail & McPhail, 1999).

To insure success for these students, institutions must do more than talk about multiculturalism. The learning paradigm asserts not only that all students can learn, but also that it is the institution’s responsibility to help all learners connect with knowledge to construct meaning. In order to do this, the institution must better understand the cognitive learning preferences of all learners, which may differ according to culture (Hollins, 1996; Hoover, 1982; Irvine & York, 2001; McPhail & McPhail, 1999; Shade, Kelly, & Oberg, 1997). These differences may involve communication style, social interaction style, response style, or linguistic style (Shade, Kelly, & Oberg) and may be represented by difference in views about individualism, concepts of time, ideas about social hierarchies, and orientation to change (Education Research Service, 2003). For example, many African American learners prefer to (a) process knowledge within its context rather than in isolated parts; (b) use inferential reasoning rather than deductive or inductive reasoning; (c) perceive approximate quantities rather than exact quantities; (d) learn about people rather than things; (e) use active learning activities that incorporate freedom of movement; (f) learn in collaborative, social situations, and (g) learn visually and kinesthetically (Education Research Service; McPhail & McPhail; Shade, Kelly, & Oberg). Learning preferences such as these can be used to create learning environments that produce success for all learners.

Applying the Principles


How do institutions apply the principles of the learning-centered paradigm to performance gaps? The Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC), named as one of 12 Vanguard Learning Colleges by the League for Innovation in the Community College, has named its strategic plan LearningFirst. This plan is characterized by an articulated belief system that the institution: (a) makes learning its central focus, (b) makes students active partners in the learning process, (c) creates holistic environments that support student learning, (d) ensures that every member of the college community is a learner, (e) focuses on learning outcomes to assess student learning and success, and (f) assumes final responsibility for producing student learning.

In everyday practice, these beliefs mean that CCBC applies two questions to every institutional decision: “Does it improve learning?” and “How do we know?” (O’Banion, 1997). Answers to these questions are determined at all levels through institutional research, learning outcomes assessment, and classroom assessment.

Defining the Gaps at CCBC

In exploring the learning outcomes of developmental students in 2001, CCBC uncovered unacceptable gaps in performance between African American and White students for course pass rates, retention rates, graduation rates, and transfer rates. In general, at the course level, the differences in pass rates between White Students and African American students were largest for students taking developmental courses, ranging from approximately 10% to 20%, depending on the developmental discipline and level. This is significant because a disproportionate number of African American students enroll in developmental courses. Although only 25% of the students at CCBC are African American, 40% of the students enrolled in developmental courses are African American.

At the 100 course level, a 12% gap existed between the pass rates of African American and White students; at the 200 course level, a 7% gap existed. Gaps of 3% (part-time) and 4% (full-time) occurred between African American and White students’ fall semester to spring semester retention rates; gaps of 4% (part-time) and 8% (full-time) occurred with fall to fall retention rates. Four-year graduation rates showed a gap of 10%, and four-year transfer rates revealed a gap of 14%.

Taking Action

The LearningFirst philosophy of CCBC asserts that until all learners are successful, the institution has not yet made good on the promise of access and opportunity. To make this promise a reality, the institution began to address performance gaps in two intersecting populations of “at promise” students, its African American students and its developmental students. It also assumed an important institutional stance early on, consistent with the learning paradigm: rather than seek to “fix” its students, the institution would work by itself and in tandem with the elementary-secondary (K-12) system to “fix” itself so that it could better serve the needs of its learners. After conducting a review of best practices, the institution constructed a vision statement and a mission statement for its Closing the Gap Initiative.

Vision statement. CCBC produces improved and expanded learning outcomes that reflect no difference in achievement between African American and White learners. (CCBC Catalogue, 2002-2004)

Mission Statement. CCBC offers, through all segments of its institution, an organizational culture, a responsive methodology of instruction, and an array of student services that address the needs of all learners, with particular attention to those students who have been historically disenfranchised in the American education system. CCBC actively promotes a responsive and diverse organizational culture by attracting, retaining, and supporting a faculty, staff, and student community that reflect the diversity of the region it serves. CCBC further responds in its various learning environments by providing students with learning experiences that embrace the cultural backgrounds of all students. CCBC maintains high expectations of all learners and assists them with an array of academic and personal support services such as developmental education, tutoring, mentoring, and advising to ensure success. CCBC also works actively with K-12 schools to promote academic readiness of high school students. Finally, in keeping with its role as a learning college, CCBC is outcomes driven in all efforts to close the achievement gap among groups of diverse learners and to promote continuous institutional improvement. (CCBC Catalogue, 2002-2004)

Furthermore, CCBC established strategies that would focus on five areas: professional development, instruction, academic preparation, student services, and institutional culture. All of these interrelated areas have direct bearing on the success of diverse developmental students.

Learning-Centered Strategies
for Closing the Gaps

Professional Development

Effective professional development is the first tool that institutions can use to build a coalition for change (Boylan, Bonham, & Bliss, 1993; Boylan, Saxon, White, & Erwin, 1994). At the minimum, all learners, regardless of level, need faculty and staff who have adequate experience, subject-matter expertise, and classroom effectiveness (Haycock, 2003). In addition, however, institutions need to provide opportunities for faculty and staff to grow in their understanding of the effects of race and culture on teaching and learning. This staff development includes workshops on racial identity (Tatum, 1997), faculty mentoring and training in pedagogical techniques to address the varied learning styles of a diverse student body, and instruction in revamping the curriculum so that it is relevant to a multicultural society (Banks, Cookson, Gay, Hawley, Irvine, Nieto, Schofield, & Stephen, 2001). In particular, faculty can be trained in the techniques of culturally-mediated instruction (Hollins, 1996) and in what Banks and Banks (1995) have named “equity pedagogy,” “teaching strategies and classroom environments that help students from diverse racial, ethnic, and cultural groups attain the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to function effectively within, and help create and perpetuate, a just, humane, and democratic society” (p. 152). More is said about culturally-mediated instruction later in this chapter.

Applying professional development strategies. In accordance with its belief that every member of the college community is a learner, in the summer of 2002 CCBC held a Symposium on Closing the Gap. The purpose of this event, which was voluntarily attended by 350 faculty and staff, was (a) to create a sense of urgency in participants by presenting institutional data on performance gaps, and (b) to begin to create a guiding coalition for institutional transformation. These two techniques are necessary for getting institutional change started (Kotter, 1996). Powerful and effective speakers challenged the myth that socio-economic reasons were accountable for the gap (Education Trust, 2001). Faculty were praised for their ability to produce change in the classroom, were exposed to new pedagogies such as culturally-mediated instruction (Hollins, 1996), and were challenged to adapt their instruction to better meet the needs of all learners. At the end of the symposium, faculty and staff who attended were invited to submit “powerful ideas” they obtained from the day. Below is a sampling of the numerous responses.

From a reading professor: “From the talk, I would like to use more visual graphic organizers to teach strategies for handling the different reading tasks involved in discipline specific textbooks.” From a literacy instructor:

I was extremely impressed with the presentation on voluntary and involuntary minorities and the phenomenon of “cultural inversion.” For me, it provided the missing factor in the whole discussion of the “learning gap.” I see now how crucial this concept is to any remedy for solving this intractable problem.

From a biology professor:

One powerful idea I derived from the day is that students are looking for instructors that are willing to “connect,” meaning, without being too pushy or too personal, instructors should help their students to succeed or help to find the reason(s) for lack of success.

Since the original symposium, the institution has continued to hold conferences, workshops, and departmental discussions about addressing the needs of diverse learners. New faculty members participate in a year-long learning community in which they discuss instructional approaches that are effective for all learners.


Because increased learning is the ultimate goal of the learning college, and because the student-teacher relationship is fundamental to learning

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