Papers from the International Association for Cross-Cultural Psychology Conferences

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There are many benefits from fostering interaction among students of diverse backgrounds in classrooms. To enhance students’ potential psycho-social and intellectual development, instructors need to do more than foster group interaction. They need to encourage and teach skills for diverse students to be able to genuinely communicate their differences in knowledge, perspectives, and expectation states. An expectation state is defined as an anticipation of the quality of group members’ future task performances and is shaped by socially ascribed characteristics. Researchers who based their studies on Expectation States Theory found ample evidence that expectation states exert multi-level effects on social dynamics, competence beliefs, and outcome perceptions between individuals with different cultural, ethnic, or socio-economic backgrounds. The present study was a qualitative exploration into the perception of expectation states and teaching of diversity in faculty at two higher-education institutions in the south-central United States. The sample consisted of ten faculty members. The methods employed comprised a combination of qualitative techniques. The focus was to identify how and where the themes of expectation states arose in the teaching and learning of diversity, what the attitudes were toward these themes and topics, and how these attitudes informed faculty’s pedagogy. A thematic analysis of the data collected revealed four main themes: 1) considering broader contextual factors to understand potential challenges in group learning involving diverse learners, 2) recognizing expectation states stemming from socially ascribed attributes, 3) striving to break presumed or preconceived expectations, and 4) incorporating experiential learning strategies towards effective diversity education. The implications of these findings for diversity training and multicultural education are discussed.


Jun Fu, M.S., M.B.A., School of Educational Foundations, Leadership and Aviation, Oklahoma State University.

Sue C. Jacobs, Ph.D., School of Community Health Sciences, Counseling and Counseling Psychology, Oklahoma State University.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Jun Fu, School of Educational Foundations, Leadership and Aviation, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078.


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