Third International Conference on the Teaching of Psychology
Mary L. Meiners,
San Diego Miramar College,

Presentation (ppt)


The California Community College System is commonly described as the world’s largest system of higher education. The open access policy welcomes all who wish to enter. This creates not only opportunities, but also barriers. The student population, are often new immigrants themselves or first generation immigrants.

In 1996, the California Community Colleges Board of Governors recognized the need to develop its citizens into knowledgeable participants in the global economy and established a task force to design a policy for “global literacy”. Endorsement by the Board of Governors and the state Chancellor provide a seal of approval and encouragement. How each institution implements “global literacy” is determined at the local level and varies greatly from one institution to another.

The presentation will focus on the initiative taken by one community college in Southern California that is part of a multi-campus district to illustrate what is and can be done with limited resources. In 2000, when the college updated its strategic plan the revised mission of the college included the phrase, “Prepare students to succeed in a world of dynamic change…” and remains today. In developing the core of the student learning outcomes, one of the five competencies adopted by the college is “global competency”.

Addressing global literacy on the campuses relies on many tried and true practices such as festivals, fairs, speakers, and study abroad programs. A current effort is the development of a Global Studies program offering a degree with certificates in geographic regions.

This presentation will focus on the efforts within the psychology department and the use of foreign films to teach tolerance. Initially the effort centered on a theme of Around the World in an academic year with a foreign film night once a month. This progressed to a an integral part of several courses. Students selected their film from a list of more than 150 foreign films. The assignment required students to identify psychological concepts and cultural similarities.

A search for an appropriate scale to measure pre and post attitudes toward other cultures was unsuccessful. A brief Likert type scale was developed and follow up data was collected voluntarily from the students. The response has been overwhelming in favor of the assignment with 79% of the students believing the assignment contributed to their understanding of another culture with no strong disagreements to this item.

This has been a rewarding method to teach about other nations and other cultures in a positive and non-threatening manner, one which I would highly recommend. More detailed information about the assignments and the films will be provided in the presentation along with more recent data from Spring 2008.

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