The overarching purpose of this project was to support the psychosocial well-being of students at Tidewater Community College through promotion of Social and Cultural Understanding, a core general education learning outcome. The initiative sought to impact student learning across the college through supporting a learning environment that provides students with knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to be aware, understand, appreciate and respond to the interconnectedness of the social and cultural dimensions.
A two-tiered approach to this purpose included faculty development, as well as engaged learning for students. Analysis of survey results indicates attainment of specific project outcomes, including engagement of faculty and students beyond the classroom, and students increased their awareness and psycho-social well-being through Social and Cultural Understanding knowledge and skills. Intended outcomes not fully realized were increased faculty confidence in infusing content related to Social and Cultural Understanding into their teaching, and development of assignments that align with the college’s Social and Cultural Understanding rubric, adapted from AAC&U. Through collaborative college –wide efforts, steady progress toward attainment of the outcomes continues and strategies are on-going.
According to the Cultural & Social Understanding Value Rubric adapted from AAC&U, student self-awareness of ethical systems and social institutions is characterized as “knowledge”. In this project, the social institution identified was that of the healthcare system. The adapted rubric also characterizes the students’ ability to “demonstrate understanding and awareness of social, economic, geo-political and cultural systems” as skills to be attained. This project introduced students to an experiential learning scenario using simulated patients with specific socio-cultural needs within the healthcare system. Debriefing sessions at key points during and after the experience fostered students’ awareness of their own cultural beliefs and value systems related to healthcare practices and preferences. This insight created the context for promoting students’ ability to assess and respond to the unique needs of the simulated patients for which they were caring. As defined by the adapted rubric, the participants’ self- awareness, and demonstrated understanding reflected enhanced knowledge and skills. The Virginia Community College System defines social and cultural competence as “…an awareness, understanding, and appreciation of the interconnectedness of the social and cultural dimensions within and across local, regional, state, national and global communities.” The project team linked the qualities of awareness, understanding and appreciation to specific characteristics of psychosocial well-being, identified by AAC &U, specifically “personal growth, social development, empathy, perspective taking, and mindfulness.”
Primary Investigators: Laura Soulsby, Associate Director of Intercultural Learning: Lsoulsby@tcc.edu.