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On Measuring Cultural Competence: Instrument Design and Testing

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2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Baltimore , Maryland

Publication Date

June 25, 2023

Start Date

June 25, 2023

End Date

June 28, 2023

Conference Session

Instrument Design and Development

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods Division (ERM)

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Paper Authors


Alicia Nicki Washington Ph.D. Duke University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Nicki Washington is a professor of the practice of computer science and gender, sexuality, and feminist studies at Duke University and the author of Unapologetically Dope: Lessons for Black Women and Girls on Surviving and Thriving in the Tech Field. She is currently the director of the Cultural Competence in Computing (3C) Fellows program and the NSF-funded Alliance for Identity-Inclusive Computing Education (AiiCE). She also serves as senior personnel for the NSF-funded Athena Institute for Artificial Intelligence (AI). Her career in higher education began at Howard University as the first Black female faculty member in the Department of Computer Science. Her professional experience also includes Winthrop University, The Aerospace Corporation, and IBM. She is a graduate of Johnson C. Smith University (B.S., ‘00) and North Carolina State University (M.S., ’02; Ph.D., ’05), becoming the first Black woman to earn a Ph.D. in computer science at the university and 2019 Computer Science Hall of Fame Inductee.

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Anna Romanova Winthrop University

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Philip Nelson


Siobahn Day Grady North Carolina Central University

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Siobahn is the first woman computer science Ph.D. graduate from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (2018). She is an Assistant Professor and Program Director of Information Science/Systems in the School of Library and Information Sciences at North Carolina Central University, Lab Director for the Laboratory for Artificial Intelligence and Equity Research (LAIER), Co-Director for the Center fOr Data Equity (CODE), an AAAS IF/THEN ambassador, and an Office e-Learning faculty fellow at North Carolina Central University. Her research focuses on utilizing machine learning to identify sources of misinformation on social media and on improving fault detection in autonomous vehicles.

Dr. Grady advocates increasing the number of women and minorities in computer science. She believes that “the STEM workforce has both gender disparities and that of historically disenfranchised groups. As an AAAS IF/THEN ambassador, she affects change by examining girls’ perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors, helping them gain confidence in curating and developing a STEM identity.”

Additionally, Dr. Grady has been featured in museums throughout the nation, has spoken at national and international conferences, serves on multiple boards, and was featured as a statue in the world’s largest exhibit of women’s statues. Technology is the way of the future, and Dr. Grady has a vision for minority girls’ and women’s futures. She realizes that vision by providing educational opportunities through community organizations, philanthropic efforts, college courses, and research grants and publications.

She currently holds the following Quality Matters Certifications: Master Reviewer, Peer Reviewer, Accelerated Designing Your Online Course F2F Facilitator, Accelerated Improving Your Online Course F2F Facilitator, Reviewer Course for Program Reviews, and Applying the QM Rubric Face to Face Facilitator.

She is a board member of the Winston-Salem State University Foundation, National Girls Collaborative Project, American Association for the Advancement of Science National Conference of Lawyers and Scientists, an advisory member for Nvolve, Inc, and several grants. She is also a member of several associations, including the Alpha Zeta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Junior League of Durham and Orange Counties, Winston Salem State University National Alumni Association (life member), and North Carolina Central University National Alumni Association (life member). She also volunteers for various organizations, including Boy Scouts of America, FIRST North Carolina, Girl Scouts of America, and Black Girls Code, which introduces science, technology, engineering, and mathematics skills to African American girls.

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Legand Burge Howard University

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Dr. Burge is Professor and Executive Director of the Howard West Initiative and former Chairman of the Department of Computer Science at Howard University. His primary research interest is in distributed computing. Dr. Burge is also interested in Computer

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This research paper presents a novel instrument that measures the cultural competence of computing students. Cultural competence first emerged in social work and counseling psychology, and has extended to disciplines such as healthcare, where graduates are expected to effectively render services to clients and patients from all identities, especially vulnerable populations. However, several limitations with current instruments that measure cultural competence render them impractical for adoption in computing. While computing graduates do not work directly with clients and patients, the technologies they develop also directly impact people (especially vulnerable populations) in ways that range from uncomfortable to life-threatening.

The instrument was developed in two phases. The original 42-item instrument was mapped to five constructs. Within each phase, internal consistency was determined via Cronbach’s α, followed by item-to-item and item-to total correlations. Principal component analysis determined the number of latent dimensions, and principal axis factoring identified meaningful data interpretations. Item revision, redistribution, and analysis in phase 2 resulted in a 25-item instrument that loaded onto four factors (Skills, Attitude, Self-Awareness, and Knowledge) with internal consistencies of 0.75, 0.82, 0.76, and 0.80, respectively.

While the instrument is not designed to be an intervention, it can be used to measure the impact of specific interventions on improving not only cultural competence, but also department climates (especially in longitudinal studies). Since the instrument was developed to be less discipline-specific than traditional ones measuring cultural competence, it also allows for broader use across science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines.

Washington, A. N., & Romanova, A., & Nelson, P., & Grady, S. D., & Burge, L. (2023, June), On Measuring Cultural Competence: Instrument Design and Testing Paper presented at 2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Baltimore , Maryland. 10.18260/1-2--43762

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