Enhancing the cultural competence of social workers
Cronin, Michael S.
MetadataShow full item record
The social work profession continues to be challenged by the need for opportunities to develop cultural competence. This cross-sectional study has examined how social worker participation in experiential learning contributes to the perceived enhancement of a social worker's cultural competence. The data were gathered by means of a questionnaire, which included the Multicultural Awareness Knowledge and Skills Survey for Social Workers (MAKSS-SW). The group studied was a sample of 44 U.S. social workers who had participated in an international exchange program sponsored by the Council of International Fellowship.;T-tests were the primary method of analysis and frequencies were used to describe the attributes of the variables and how they were distributed among the categories. Particular factors studied were the length of program participation, level of interaction with clients, degree of difference between the ethnic background of participants, and clients and staff, host family experience, language familiarity and remuneration or subsidy. Findings indicated that there were specific elements of the international exchange program experience associated with participants' perception of enhanced cultural competence. These elements include the availability and utilization of direct practice opportunities and the difference between the ethnic backgrounds of participants and exchange program staff. A statistical trend was reported in regards to the association of multicultural knowledge and the difference between the ethnic or racial backgrounds of program participants and clients observed or served.;The study suggests the need for further exploration and research on how exchange experiences can enhance the acquisition of cultural competence. Specific program factors requiring additional inquiry include the elements of language familiarity, program length and economic considerations. This study has emphasized the importance of using the concept of experiential learning as a means of drawing together theory and practice toward the development of the enhanced awareness, knowledge and skills necessary for cultural competence.