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The Harvard Family Research Project separated from the Harvard Graduate School of Education to become the Global Family Research Project as of January 1, 2017. It is no longer affiliated with Harvard University.

Terms of Use ▼

Michael Hass, Ph.D.
Chapman University

Required Texts
Howard, G. (1999). We can’t teach what we don’t know. New York: Teachers College Press.

McGoldrick, M., Giordano, J., & Pearce, J. K. (Eds.). (1996). Ethnicity and family therapy (2nd ed.). New York: The Guilford Press.

Catalog Description
This course focuses upon the unique challenges diversity brings to the provision of counseling and psychological services to children, youth, and parents. Students will learn the history, culture, and expectations of various ethnic and cultural groups and develop the cross-cultural communication skills necessary to effectively work with families of varying cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. Students will also explore how issues such as immigration, poverty, sexism, and racism affect counseling practices and the development of effective interventions. 3 credits.

Course Goals
Students will:

  1. Learn how factors such as culture, race, socioeconomic status, and gender influence pupils’ achievement and adaptation to a school setting.
  2. Explore their cultural backgrounds and how this influences their work with students.
  3. Use Genograms as a tool to explore the social and cultural backgrounds of themselves and the students they work with.
  4. Learn the history, values, and communication styles of Asian Americans, African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, and White Americans.
  5. Learn and practice communication and intervention skills appropriate for individuals from various cultures.
  6. Learn and practice culturally appropriate strategies to enlist the collaboration of parents to support educational interventions.
  7. Learn to identify and access culturally appropriate community resources and services.

Resources on Campus
The Writing Center
Provides free assistance with writing skills to all students.

The Center for Academic Success
Provides free tutoring in various areas to all students. Also, coordinates services to students with disabilities.

Description of Course Tasks

Participate in class discussions and activities and thoughtfully engage the course material (20 points)

An important goal of this course is for you to begin to see the persons you work with through a wider lens. In order to accomplish this we will read, discuss, and reflect on readings that focus on: (1) general theories and ideas about such things as culture, social class, immigration, etc. or (2) the history, customs, and unique issues of particular social groups, i.e., Latinos, Immigrants, African Americans, etc. To get the most out of these readings you must be engaged with the material and participate in class discussions and activities. Specifically, this can be broken down into four aspects: (1) attendance and promptness, (2) participation in class discussion, (3) participation in Learning Support Groups, and (4) keeping Learning Journals.

Attendance and Promptness
Please notify me in advance if you are going to be absent from class. Two absences will result in a lowered grade. More than two may lead to you being dropped from the class. Frequent lateness may also result in a lowered grade.

Participation in Class Discussions and Activities
The more you participate in class discussions and activities, the more interesting and useful the class sessions will be. Speaking in front of others and working collaboratively in groups are important skills for counselors and psychologists. I will try to take into account individual differences in temperament, comfort level with public speaking, etc., but also expect you to push yourself to positively contribute to class. For some this may mean listening and reflecting more, for others, speaking up more.

Learning Support Groups
Research on adult learners suggests that you will learn as much from each other in the class as from the instructor. To encourage this process we will form Learning Support Groups. Your group should have no more than five persons and meet the following qualifications: have at least one male and one female, have at least one school psychology student and one counseling student, have at least one person who is a parent, have at least one person whose parents did not go to college, have at least one person who immigrated to the United States, and have at least one other person who speaks a language other than English.

Learning Journals
Five times during the semester you will turn in a reflective journal based on: (1) class discussions or activities, (2) that week’s reading, (3) something that happened at work that connects with what we are learning in class, or (4) something you read for another purpose, i.e., readings for other classes, newspaper articles, etc., that is related to what we are discussing in class. Each entry should be about two pages long and include what you read or experienced and questions it raises, implications for your practice, etc. You might describe what you find interesting, unclear, provocative, or “linkable” with other material. This can be handwritten (as long as I can read it!). I will not grade your learning logs per se, but will return them to you to be resubmitted if I think they are not of adequate breadth or depth.

Evaluation of Participation
No more than one absence + consistent promptness + active and positive participation in class activities + all Learning Logs completed = 20 points.

Explore your cultural and social background and reflect on how it influences your work with others - Personal History Portfolio (20 points – due 10/18)

A second important goal of this course is for you to reflect on your own social, cultural, and family background. Moreover, I want you to consider how your background might influence your work with children and families. To accomplish this, your first substantive assignment will be to construct a Personal History Portfolio. Constructing your Personal History Portfolio will involve the use of data obtained from interviews with family members as well as library research.

Your portfolio should have the following components:

1. Title page
2. Table of contents
3. Methods – Overview of your portfolio including the methods you used to gather information (1–2 pages).

Family Interviews
You will be expected to interview at least three family members representing two different generations. Feel free to be creative in your selection of questions. You will want to consider the suggested questions for conducting a Genogram interview as well as the topics suggested in the article by Elaine P. Congress, “The Use of Culturagrams to Assess and Empower Culturally Diverse Families.” Make sure to specifically explore experiences with education, counseling, perceptions of adversity, and sources of strength and resiliency.

Library Research
You must use at least six sources. These must include at least three types of literature: (1) academic journal articles, (2) online resources, and (3) “nonprofessional” writings including poetry, adult fiction, or children’s literature.

4. Family story – Tell your family’s story in terms of its cultural, ethnic, and social background. What is your family’s immigration story? What is your family’s attitude toward education? Toward counseling or psychotherapy? What are your family’s sources of strength and resilience? This section should incorporate information from the persons you interviewed as well as information from the literature you review (3–5 pages).
5. Personal reflection – What have you learned about yourself? How have changed through doing this project? (2–3 pages)
6. Appendix I – Interview notes
7. Appendix II – Three Generational Family Genogram
8. References

Evaluation of Personal History Portfolio – Three Levels
30 points – All required components, extensive detail, shows exceptional depth of thought and writing demonstrates a variety of sentences, precise word choice, and smooth flow.

20 points – All required components, adequate detail, free of errors in grammar, and syntax.

16 points – Missing components, errors in grammar, and syntax interfere with the readers understanding of material.

Explore a cultural group with whom you are unfamiliar – Ethnographic Fieldwork Journal (3 x 5 points = 15 points – due 10/10, 11/14, and 12/12)

A third goal of this course is for you to become more comfortable or familiar with persons from a cultural or ethnic group other than your own. The first step in this process is to pick a cultural group that you are interested in learning more about. The second is to identify a “puzzlement” concerning this group that you would like to explore. Jacobs defines a puzzlement as:

“Puzzlements include student performance (i.e., behaviors or attitudes) that an educational practitioner does not understand, whether the unexpected performance is considered as positive, neutral, or negative ... By treating a puzzlement as an opportunity to explore cultural influences on a student's or students' performance in educational settings, educational practitioners increase the likelihood of developing appropriate interventions.”

I suggest that you consider a group that you have little experience with, but will probably encounter in your work as a school psychologist or counselor. You will explore this group in various ways including: (1) Ethnographic Fieldwork, (2) Community Agency Project, and (3) Cultural Inquiry Portfolio.

Part of becoming more comfortable with members of a group different than your own is to spend time in settings where members of this group are the majority and are engaged in activities that reflect their cultural practices. This assignment requires that you spend a minimum of 20 hours (not counting travel time) doing ethnographic fieldwork. Your fieldwork should also be done in at least three settings. You have flexibility in picking these settings but, as mentioned above, they should be places where: (1) members of the cultural group you have chosen are the majority and (2) they are engaged in activities that reflect their cultural values and practices. Examples might include visiting a community center in Little Saigon or Martinez Books and Art in Santa Ana. Yet, it would not be appropriate, for this assignment, to observe students in a school setting because students are often engaged in activities not of their choosing.

Three times during the semester, you will be asked to submit a journal documenting your field experiences. Your journal entries should be at least two pages long (typed double spaced). They should include a description of the place you visited, i.e., the when, where, what, and how long of your fieldwork. They should also include reflections on your experience and connections to things you have read, discussions in class, or, in your second or third entries, your prior journals. Your journal entries will be included in your Cultural Inquiry Portfolio.

Evaluation of Fieldwork Journal
5 points – Appropriate length, description of observation, good observational detail, depth of thought and reflection, writing is clear and without major mistakes in grammar, sentence structure, etc.

Community Resources Project (10 points – due 11/7)

This assignment will make you aware of what community resources are available that serve the needs of the cultural group you have chosen to explore. It will also help you understand what it might be like for a person or family to access community services and the barriers they might encounter. Choose a community agency that provides tutoring, counseling, drug rehabilitation, health care, or other social services to the particular cultural or ethnic group you are exploring. You must visit the agency in person. Investigate the agency’s intake or referral processes. Obtain a systematic description of what a client would go through to obtain services. Find out how the agency adapts its services to meet the needs of the group it serves. Is the agency structured differently than it might be if it served members of the dominant culture? Do staff members adapt their communications to fit the culture they serve? Write (type) a description of the agency that includes the information listed below.

Describe the Visit
Where did you go? When did you visit? Whom did you talk to and how long did you spent on-site?

Basic Information about the Agency

  • Name, location, and contact phone numbers
  • Mission or purpose, including who they serve
  • Fee structure
  • Who provides client services? Interns, licensed professionals, paid staff, volunteers, etc.
  • How does a client access services? Go into detail. Ask the person you talk with to walk you through each step someone goes through from the time a potential client picks up the phone and calls. Who answers the phone? What happens next? etc. Write a script outlining all the steps necessary to access services.
  • Does the agency gather data to determine the effectiveness of their services? If so, what data do they have and what does it say about their efficacy?


Reflection and Critique
What do you think of the agency’s mission, policies, and services? What are the strengths of this agency? When might you refer someone for the services provided by this agency? What barriers might that person need to overcome to access the services? How do they adapt their services to meet the needs of the group they serve? If they make specific accommodations, do they make sense in light of what you have read or learned about this group? Are there other accommodations you might suggest?

Evaluation of Community Resources Project – Three Levels
10 points – All required components, extensive detail, shows exceptional depth of thought and writing demonstrates a variety of sentences, precise word choice, and smooth flow.

8 points – All required components, adequate detail, relatively free of errors in grammar and syntax.

Cultural Inquiry Portfolio (35 points – due 12/12)

Exploration of an “other.” Choose a cultural group with whom you have little experience or familiarity. Identify a “puzzlement.” Your puzzlement might involve the group as a whole, a subset of the group, or an individual member of this group. This portfolio should have the following components:

1. Title page
2. Table of contents
3 . Introduction - Rationale for your selection of this cultural group and identification of your “puzzlement” (1–2 pages)
4. Cultural and social background or “what is known about this group” (6–10 pages)

Socioeconomic Context
Describe this group in terms of their current demographics, including population, distribution, economic status, and educational achievement. What have been this group’s experiences with the legal system? Does poverty or lack of economic opportunity influence your puzzlement? Do members of this group hold office or otherwise wield significant political power? How might this power or lack of power influence your puzzlement?

Experiences with Oppression and Bias
Also, describe how this group is perceived by the mainstream culture. What is the history of this group in the United States? How has racism or oppression played a part in this history? Has their place in U.S. society changed with time? How might the way this group is currently perceived or has been perceived by mainstream society influence your puzzlement?

Perception of Formal Education and Community/School Relations
How is formal education perceived by this group? Are there mismatches between the cultures of home and school that interfere with this group's achievement? How do these mismatches influence your puzzlement?

Gender, Family, and Child Rearing
Describe gender roles in this group. How are families perceived? Who is considered family? What are the privileges and responsibilities associated with family membership? How do gender roles and perceptions of family influence your puzzlement?

Adversity and Resiliency
How do members of this group perceive adversity? What are their sources of strength or resiliency? How might these strengths be used to construct an intervention for your puzzlement?

5. Personal reflection – What have you learned? What actions now make sense relative to your puzzlement? How have you changed through doing this project? Future directions? (2–3 pages)
6. Appendix I – Field experiences journal (see above)
7. Appendix II – Community agency write-up (see above)
8. Appendix III – Interview notes
9 . References

Evaluation of Cultural Exploration Portfolio – Three Levels
35 points – All required components, extensive detail, shows exceptional depth of thought and writing demonstrates a variety of sentences, precise word choice, and smooth flow.

29 points – All required components, adequate detail, free of errors in grammar and syntax.

24 or fewer points – Missing components, errors in grammar and syntax interfere with the readers understanding of material.

Hints, Suggestions, and Expectations

  1. I invite you to come to me with your questions and concerns. If you are unable to get a face-to-face meeting with me in a timely manner, send me an email message. I check my email daily and usually respond to messages promptly. I can also review written assignments electronically if you send them to me as an attachment.
  2. I will make every effort to return all assignments within two weeks of the time they are due.
  3. Please turn in all assignments on or before the due date. Also, please share any obstacles that might prevent you from completing an assignment on time, privately or in class. Do not wait until the last moment or, worse yet, after the deadline has passed to discuss a problem with me. It is easier to get permission than to ask forgiveness. In a similar vein, if you have any questions abut assignments, please consult me earlier rather than later. I would be happy to meet with you individually or read portions of your assignment ahead of time.
  4. If you earn less than 80% of the possible points on an assignment, you may elect to resubmit it. If so, you must resubmit it the following class session (two weeks after it was due). Attach the original along with the revised version. The maximum you can earn on a resubmitted assignment is 80% of the possible points. You may not resubmit an assignment if you earn 80% or more points. I know all of you want to be perfect, but 80% or a grade of B meets the standard we set for graduate students and is a perfectly fine grade. (This comes from someone who earned many Bs in graduate school.) Occasionally, an assignment will be turned back to you without a score. In that case, you must resubmit the assignment with the original the following week. If you do not resubmit an assignment, your score will be zero.
  5. The way your final grade will be determined is:
    A: 100 points
    A-: At least 94 points
    B+: At least 90 points
    B: At least 85 points

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Published by Harvard Family Research Project