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Running Head: POST TEST REFLECTION ESSAY

Post Test Reflection Essay


John Burroughs
Georgia State University

Running Head: POST TEST REFLECTION ESSAY


Introduction
At the beginning of the semester, I honestly believed that if I took a job today, I was
sufficiently prepared to become a social worker. After taking the two pretests to measure my
cultural competency, I was humbled and shocked at the inadequacy of my knowledge. The
scores revealed a great need for improvement, but I still did not fully comprehend how difficult it
is to become culturally competent. At the conclusion of this course, I can appreciate that a
tremendous amount of time and effort is necessary to properly understand each specific culture.
Assignments, readings, and class discussions helped to educate me about the diversity of cultures
found in America. Our group presentations focused on one culture, which allowed us to learn a
lot about a specific group of Americans. By listening to the presentations of our classmates, we
were able to increase our knowledge about a variety of cultures. This approach helped us
tremendously with Standard 3 (Cross Cultural Knowledge) and Standard 8 (Professional
Education) of the NASWs Standards for Cultural Competence in Social Work Practice. After
taking the post tests, my scores showed much improvement. Additionally, I now appreciate that
being empathetic and understanding of other cultures is not the same as being knowledgeable.
Cultural learning is a never-ending process that will be ongoing throughout my career.
Score Reflection
In August, I took the pretests and assumed I would do fairly well. After taking the
Cultural Competencies Self-Assessment Pretest and evaluating my score of 69, it was clear that I
needed vast improvement. From this pretest, I identified Skill Development as the area of
greatest weakness. I took the second pretest on Cultural Competencies with Culturally Diverse
Groups and got a score of 187. I realized that what I actually knew was very different from my
perceived cultural competency. From the scores, I identified Asian Americans and The Older
Adult as the groups where I needed the most improvement. My previous interaction with these
two groups has been fairly limited. My immediate environment (such as home, school, and
activities) rarely provided opportunities to interact with Asian Americans. My grandparents are
the only members of The Older Adult group that I have relationships with, and they all live far
away. While reflecting on these scores, I realized that I had been exposed to limited cultural
diversity while growing up. When looking more closely at my personal relationships and
upbringing, it became clear that I was mostly exposed to the European American culture. Not
surprisingly, this was the area that produced the best score on the pretest.
The post tests confirmed that I improved over the course of the semester. My post test
score on the Cultural Competencies Self-Assessment was 118, which showed a 71%
improvement. I originally scored a 30 on Skill Development, but brought that up to a 67 on the
post test. There is obviously still room for further development, but I feel confident that I am
moving closer to the skill set that I need. On the Cultural Competencies with Culturally Diverse
Groups post test, I scored 304, an improvement of 117 points. For the Asian American group, I
initially scored a 7, but brought that up to a 25 on the post test. With The Older Adult group, I
improved from a 10 to a 27. The cultural immersion interviews and group projects were
instrumental in helping me improve on the Culturally Diverse Groups test.
Perceptions and Assumptions
Cultural Self-Awareness
The greatest change in my cultural self-awareness has been in understanding the need for
knowledge about specific cultures. I previously thought that being open-minded and accepting of

Running Head: POST TEST REFLECTION ESSAY


various cultures was one of the most important elements of being a social worker. However, to
truly help people with problems and issues, we must also understand their cultural backgrounds.
Mini Assignment A helped me explore my dominant and subordinate groups. When creating my
identity bag for a class assignment, I joked that the world sees me as white bread. I realize now
that some people may have difficulty accepting my help because I represent so many dominant
groups. Being a white, heterosexual male potentially creates some obstacles in working with
people of diverse cultures. Therefore, I will need to work even harder to make sure I am
culturally competent.
Diverse Groups
One of my cultural immersions was with an LGBTQ woman named Dawn. As we began
the interview, I asked her how she identifies. Her response was, As a woman, as an AfricanAmerican, as a lesbian (Dickerson, personal communication, 2014). This helped me realize that
our identities are not confined to one group. At the beginning of the course, I thought that being
accepting of all groups was a great quality to have. While it is important, understanding the
differences of diverse groups is also essential.
I chose to do interviews for each of the cultural immersion assignments because I hoped
it would help me fully understand the biases, stereotypes and discrimination experienced by
cultural groups. All of the individuals I spoke with expressed a need for people to be mindful of
their differences. They talked about being judged and mistreated because of their cultures. The
Hispanic couple I interviewed discussed how everyone refers to them as Mexican, even though
their families came from Puerto Rico and Colombia. Each of the individuals interviewed
discussed various stereotypes associated with their cultures, and how disrespectful that can be.
Coming into this class, I considered myself color-blind, or someone who ignored skin
color and race. I realize now that ignoring someones heritage and culture does them a
disservice. Our culture helps create who we are and how we function in society, so it is vital to
understand a persons background.
Future Application
This course has taught me that we can never know everything about a specific culture,
much less ALL cultures. While we can strive for cultural competence, we must continually work
towards additional knowledge about cultures and groups. NASWs Standards for Cultural
Competence in Social Work Practice states that Professional Education should be ongoing (Lum,
2011, p. 29). Before I interviewed Latricia Russell for our group project on African-Americans, I
thought of her as a nice individual who was studying to be a social worker. After listening to her
stories of bias and discrimination, I better understood the obstacles she has faced. Latricias
background shaped how she views the world, and I will remember that with future clients.
Additionally, I must be cognizant of how others perceive me because of my dominant statuses.
Conclusion
This course has had more assignments than any class I have ever taken, but I now
understand that it was the best way for us to improve our cultural competency. Each assignment
led to improvements in understanding our own identities, as well as various cultures. The
increased scores on my post tests show just how much progress was made, but as the saying
goes, the more you learn, the less you know. Cultural competency will be a lifelong challenge.

Running Head: POST TEST REFLECTION ESSAY


References
Lum, D.(2011). Culturally competent practice: A framework for understanding diverse groups
and justice issues. Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole.