Spotlight on a critical graduate competency: Developing students’ capacity to recognize and create healthy, diverse, inclusive culture

Year: 2021

Author: Genauer, Jessica, Amerasekera, Errol

Type of paper: Individual Paper

From the Collingwood Football Club being found guilty of systemic racism (Holmes 2021) to accusations of a toxic work culture at Parliament House (Tiernan 2021) and the on-going disproportionate incarceration of Indigenous people in this country (Australian Law Reform Commission 2018), it is increasingly clear that multiple societal challenges stem from a lack of capacity to create healthy, diverse and inclusive culture in our workplaces, clubs and broader society (Cherkowski 2010; Flinder, Wind and Barak 2007). The ability to recognize and create healthy culture is a critical competency for graduate employability and success (Blanchard et al. 2016; Jones 2013; Lantz-Deaton and Golubeva 2020; Oraison, Konjarski, and Howe 2019). It is also a necessary foundation to effectively develop and execute additional human competencies such as leadership, multi-stakeholder collaboration, negotiation, conflict resolution, innovation, creative problem solving, design thinking and communication. However, students are largely graduating without this competency. Which is perhaps surprising given that studies have shown that such a capacity is teachable (Anthony and Garner 2016; Yan Li et al. 2019).In light of this gap, this study evaluates the design and implementation of an educational module to develop university students’ capacity to recognize and create healthy, inclusive, diverse culture. This is a generic educational module that can be embedded in university courses, across disciplines. Module design draws on the understanding that, in order to create healthy culture, students need to understand the factors that contribute to unhealthy culture, such as unconscious bias, systemic racism and structural barriers to opportunity (Jackson 2020; Marcelin et al. 2019). The module therefore provides students with a tool to recognize and address these factors, namely, an awareness of rank-resources (Mindell 2014; Fuller 2004). Rank-resources are defined as individual or socio-cultural attributes (Black and Stone 2005), that can be both dispositional and contextual (Kraus, Piff, and Keltner 2011), and that shape an individual’s experience, behavior and opportunities in a given social context (Gilbert 2000). The effectiveness of the module and opportunities for improvement will be evaluated using both quantitative data from a pre and post-survey, and qualitative data from a focus group. The educational module will be piloted in semester 2, 2021 in a later-year university course. A pre-test and post-test of students will be conducted to determine whether or not students’ capacity to recognise and create healthy, diverse, inclusive culture has increased. In addition, a focus group with students will be conducted to evaluate students’ experience of the module and areas for improvement. If this abstract is accepted, findings will be ready to be presented at the AARE conference in end November, 2021.