Historically, acculturative stress and the four coping strategies have been applied topically throughout educational research. Measuring acculturative stress through the use of culturally responsive evaluations can help us understand and apply more accurate techniques of cultural responsiveness. This includes teaching and design strategies and organizational climate.
We often assume individuals recognize and cope with their experiences with racism, prejudice, and oppression. Providing a formal evaluation of experiences documents and quantifies experiences with acculturative stress. An evaluation supports efforts to address negative systemically pervasive experiences.
Formal assessment is an inquiry within the learning environment to obtain data through general methods of clinical means. Marginalization is challenging to measure. Concerns will arise when measuring marginalization. Personal frameworks and experiences of researchers are cited as validity influencers. A better option for a formal assessment is to measure acculturative stress levels in conjunction with marginalization and ethnic identity. A measure called the Multidimensional Acculturative Stress Inventory (MASI) is commonly used to measure levels of acculturative stress. This would help an education system to identify levels of acculturative stress among students.
The MASI tool is a typical representation of how to assess acculturative stress and its potential impact on the learning environment. The advantages of this type of assessment gives insight into where the acculturative stress may impact students’ learning, socialization, and individual situations concerning their current circumstances and experiences with campus life. The MASI tool also fosters a reduction in researcher subjectivity.
The inclusion of culturally responsive supports based on formal assessment may require significant restructuring of or additions to organizational structure to include professionals who can conduct such assessments and are well-versed in the appropriate academic and social supports required to support students with high levels of acculturative stress.
Informal assessment is an exercise conducted within the learning environment to obtain data through general methods of inquiry through general contact between students, peers, and co-workers. This method can be more qualitative but, could result in some quantitative elements or data. For example, qualitative elements of informal assessment of acculturative stress may include general conversation, discussion posts, and one-on-one conversations. Quantitative examples may include looking at academic course metadata regarding students’ interaction rates with specific course content. The advantages of data assessment include quick speed, and personal (first-hand observations and anecdotes), and are easily applied for specific use in the classroom setting.
General screening tools
General screening tools can also be effective. A screening tool will allow a degree of reliability with room for culturally responsive practitioners and student service specialists to conduct a less formal inquiry with flexibility and meaning.
This is an assessment/survey constructed for general use, and minimal clinical training is required although suggested. For example, a screening tool can highlight one aspect of a construct. Combining a screening tool with a comprehensive understanding of how to implement culturally responsive interventions and other data points within lived experiences can provide meaningful information that helps inform instructional decision-making. Institutional data with a culturally responsive structure can assist in improving organizational climate and student outcomes. The results of this assessment help guide instructional designers, professors, administration, other staff, and students to feel comfortable in the lived experiences associated with higher education.
The disadvantages of informal assessment include a broad generalization and application of the factors of marginalization and acculturative stress. Potentially poorly worded or un-normed assessments could cause additional acculturative stress for individuals. Researchers suggest educators work from formal data collection and assessment types as well as clinical practitioners before applying informal data collection to inform course design and teaching practices.
Identifiable levels of acculturative stress emerged only after an assessment had been given. After talking with individuals and identifying the acculturative stress levels, personalized cultural responsiveness trends emerge. These trends help identify what culturally responsive intervention or accommodation is most appropriate for the learning process for a specific individual.
Because formal and informal assessments have both advantages and disadvantages for the data collectors, clinicians, educators, co-workers, and students a third option would be to consider a screening tool (informal assessment). Screening tools are easily added to institutional surveys. Informed consent is always required.
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