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Profiles of practice: The reflections of White student affairs practitioners engaged in the practice of race awareness education

Donna Marie Bourassa, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This qualitative study investigated how White student affairs practitioners described and reflected on the practice of race awareness education. The methods of data collection included semi-structured, in-depth interviews and some field observations with ten White student affairs practitioners from diverse university and college settings throughout the United States. The principal focus of this study was to acquire knowledge as to: (1) what informs practitioners about their practice; (2) why they make the decisions they do regarding their approach to race awareness education; and (3) how has their practice changed over time. Practitioners were also asked to reflect on what it meant to be doing this work as a student affairs practitioner. The findings suggested emergent themes related to the relationship between the practitioner, the practice, and their reflection. Themes regarding the practitioners' background centered on their intrinsic motivation; reliance on experiential learning; and the importance of tracking their own White identity development. In their narratives about the practice, themes emerged regarding the range of interventions utilized in the field; pedagogical issues related to impacting students' learning at the cognitive, affective, and behavioral levels; the use of self as a teaching tool; and viewing practice as an art form. In their reflections, practitioners spoke of the challenges inherent in evaluation; their desired changes; minor shifts that occurred with their practice; and the need for processes to insure reflective thought. The study concludes with a discussion of the implications for further research.

Subject Area

Higher education|Minority & ethnic groups|Sociology|Bilingual education|Multicultural education

Recommended Citation

Bourassa, Donna Marie, "Profiles of practice: The reflections of White student affairs practitioners engaged in the practice of race awareness education" (1996). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9638932.