Getting Started and Connecting
Module 01: Cultural Responsiveness: Bridge the Gaps of Culture
Module 02: Deconstructing Barriers of Cultural Responsiveness
Module-03: Evaluating and Measuring Acculturative Stress
Module 04: The Culturally Responsive System (CRS): Creating a Solid Foundation
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Types of Assessment

Formal Assessment

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.

  • Monitoring Physical Health: Keep an eye on physical health indicators, such as changes in sleep patterns, appetite, or unexplained physical symptoms that may be linked to stress.
  • Exploring Coping Mechanisms: Discuss coping mechanisms employed by individuals when faced with challenges related to cultural adaptation. Positive coping strategies contribute to resilience, while negative coping may indicate higher stress levels.

Formal Assessment Research

Braddock, A. S., Phad, A., Tabak, R., Kumanyika, S., Johnston, S., Koopman, R., Prout, E., & McQueen, A. (2021). Assessing Racial and Ethnic Discrimination in Children: A Scoping Review of Available Measures for Child Health Disparities Research. Health equity5(1), 727–737.

Cervantes, R. C., Fisher, D. G., Padilla, A. M., & Napper, L. E. (2016). The Hispanic Stress Inventory Version 2: Improving the assessment of acculturation stress. Psychological assessment28(5), 509–522.

d’Abreu, A., Castro-Olivo, S., & Ura, S. K. (2019). Understanding the role of acculturative stress on refugee youth mental health: A systematic review and ecological approach to assessment and intervention. School Psychology International40(2), 107-127.

Fox, M., Thayer, Z., & Wadhwa, P. D. (2017). Assessment of acculturation in minority health research. Social science & medicine (1982)176, 123–132.

Siddiqui, S. M. (2022, October 24). Acculturative stress, everyday racism, and mental health among a community sample of South Asians in Texas. Frontiers in Public Health, 10, Article 954105.

Urzúa, A., Henríquez, D., Caqueo-Urízar, A., & Smith-Castro, V. (2021). Validation of the brief scale for the evaluation of acculturation stress in migrant population (EBEA). Psicologia, reflexao e critica : revista semestral do Departamento de Psicologia da UFRGS34(1), 3.

Comorbidity Guidelines Training. (n.d.). Informal assessment. Retrieved from

Handbook of Multicultural School Psychology: An Interdisciplinary Perspective – Google Books

Informal Assessment

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.

Informally assessing acculturative stress involves considering various aspects of an individual’s experiences and well-being in the context of cultural adaptation. Here are several ways to informally assess acculturative stress:

  1. Open-ended Conversations:
    • Engage in open-ended conversations to allow individuals to share their experiences, challenges, and feelings related to cultural adaptation.
  2. Observation of Behavioral Changes:
    • Observe changes in behavior, such as increased isolation, mood fluctuations, or alterations in daily routines, which may indicate stress related to cultural adjustment.
  3. Listening to Personal Narratives:
    • Encourage individuals to share personal narratives about their cultural adaptation journey, paying attention to emotional cues and stress indicators embedded in their stories.
  4. Assessing Social Connections:
    • Evaluate the strength and nature of social connections. A lack of a support system or strained relationships may contribute to acculturative stress.
  5. Reviewing Academic or Work Performance:
    • Assess changes in academic or work performance, as increased stress may impact an individual’s ability to concentrate or meet expectations.
  6. Considering Cultural Expressions:
    • Understand cultural expressions of distress or well-being, as different cultures may manifest stress in unique ways. Be attuned to cultural nuances in verbal and non-verbal communication.

Informal Assessment Research

Al-Jaberi, M. A., Juni, M. H., Kadir Shahar, H., Ismail, S. I. F., Saeed, M. A., & Ying, L. P. (2020). Effectiveness of an Educational Intervention in Reducing New International Postgraduates’ Acculturative Stress in Malaysian Public Universities: Protocol for a Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial. JMIR research protocols9(2), e12950. Effectiveness of an Educational Intervention in Reducing New International Postgraduates’ Acculturative Stress in Malaysian Public Universities: Protocol for a Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial – PMC (

Kim, J., Suh, W., Kim, S., & Gopalan, H. (2012). Coping strategies to manage acculturative stress: meaningful activity participation, social support, and positive emotion among Korean immigrant adolescents in the USA. International journal of qualitative studies on health and well-being7, 1–10. Coping strategies to manage acculturative stress: Meaningful activity participation, social support, and positive emotion among Korean immigrant adolescents in the USA – PMC (

Navigating Acculturative Stress: A Guide for Supporting Newcomer Students in California ESL Classrooms (

Wu, M. (A.). (2022). The role of leisure in coping with acculturative stress among Chinese international students: An exploratory study. Title of the Journal, Volume(Issue). Retrieved from content (

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.

Utilizing Self-Report Scales:

  • Integrate self-report scales or questionnaires that explore stress, anxiety, or cultural adaptation challenges, allowing individuals to express their experiences more systematically.

General Screening Research

Lam, J., Yip, T., & Gee, G. (2012). Acculturative Stress Questionnaire [Database record]. APA PsycTests.

Ren, Q., & Jiang, S. (2021). Acculturation Stress, Satisfaction, and Frustration of Basic Psychological Needs and Mental Health of Chinese Migrant Children: Perspective from Basic Psychological Needs Theory. International journal of environmental research and public health18(9), 4751.