Culturally Relevant Research Approaches
Review the readings concerning culturally relevant research approaches in the Study activities for Unit 5 and Unit 6. Then search for scholarly sources in the Capella University Library and locate at least three articles that add to your knowledge of the cultural group you have chosen to explore for your final project. Review these articles in a 3–5 page paper in current APA format. In your paper, include the following:
An analysis and a description of traditional research, addressing the question of its cultural relevance.
An analysis and a description of what comprises culturally relevant research.
An analysis and a description of at least three research studies that have addressed the cultural group you are exploring.
An evaluation of the key differences between traditional research and culturally relevant research and how that impacts the cultural group you are exploring.
A discussion of the relationship of culturally relevant research to the promotion of social justice for the group you are studying.
Identify how to engage in collaborative practice to advocate for appropriate services.
Culturally Relevant Research Approaches
Research assumes an instrumental role in various professional disciplines, including social work and healthcare. Since the highlighted domains tend to function well when practitioners have in-depth knowledge of their communities, researchers are urged to shift from traditional to culturally relevant research. Traditional research usually focuses on the systematic collection and interpretation of data without sufficient consideration of underlying social dynamics that influence the process (Aronson & Laughter, 2016). For instance, a traditional researcher would tend to paint statistical high crime rates as a cultural attribute of minority peoples rather than acknowledging the systemic challenges they experience due to their cultural background. When placed into perspective, this researcher’s ignorance on matters pertaining to how the minority groups perceive racial inequality, as well as the impacts of the same on their lives prevents him/her from developing a clear picture of the challenge. Clearly, the superficial nature of traditional research tends to compromise the value of its findings and conclusion with respect to the studied group. For this reason, cultural relevance is a necessary ingredient in research given the increasing rate of diversity in the modern age.
In the wake of such a realization, researchers should have a clear understanding of what comprises cultural relevance in their practice. In their phenomenal work, Aronson and Laughter (2016) highlight three key elements that ought to be present in a research for it to be considered culturally relevant. First and foremost, this type of research should be based on a culturally conscious ideology. This implies that the perspective they hold of the cultures they study should be true. As far as this point is concerned, the case of African Americans’ interactions with the United States justice system appears illustrious. A culturally relevant research should first acknowledge the African American’s negative view of the country’s justice system, and how their historical backgrounds as slaves impacts the same. Failure to have this conscious understanding is highly likely to jeopardize the direction and outcomes of such an investigation. Second, culturally relevant research should be realistic, in the sense that hypotheses and findings should be based on real life scenarios. It suffices to say that a study on the African American heritage would not be realistic if it fails to highlight the group’s African roots. Lastly, cultural relevance demands authenticity in the research process. A research project cannot be considered culturally relevant if it presents biased (stereotypical) views of particular cultural elements.
Given the clear perspective highlighted on what it takes for a study to be considered culturally relevant, it seems fair to highlight a few studies that have met the criteria. Linda C. Tillman’s ‘Culturally Sensitive Research Approaches: An African-American Perspective’ offers some guidance on how to apply cultural sensitivity when engaging in cultural studies. The fact that Tillman is a black researcher enhances relevance since she is fully conscious of the African American cultural predispositions. Another culturally relevant research on blacks is Aleidine Moeller and Mary Ashcraft’s ‘Creating a Culturally Relevant Environment for African American Learner in the Foreign Language Classroom.’ Notably, this study utilized real-time observation and recording of African American students’ experiences of and attitudes towards foreign language classes to determine how the situation could be improved. A similar approach is taken by Lewis and Van Dyke in their study ‘Discrimination and the Health of African Americans: The Potential Importance of Intersectionalities.’ Like the preceding authors, Lewis and Van Dyke capitalized on perspectives that were shared by African Americans on matters pertaining to healthcare. Clearly, this research was based on not only authentic but also realistic evidence, thus, enhancing its cultural relevance.
Obviously, the key differences between traditional research and culturally relevant investigations include cultural consciousness and authenticity. While traditional approaches apply systematic methodology to understand social phenomena, they disregard the cultural input of the groups under investigation, thus jeopardizing their relevance. Acknowledging and appreciating the value of culture in research is the most logical move towards reducing systemic disparities that characterize the United States’ public health and justice systems. When practitioners employ cultural consciousness in their research projects, they will definitely paint wholesome pictures of the social challenges, and how they can be resolved in an inclusive manner. In this sense, culturally relevant research will play a key role in promoting social justice for African Americans, and minority groups at large.
After an insightful discussion of culturally relevant research and how it impacts the value of such projects, this essay urges researchers to embrace a multicultural perspective in their practice. This kind of perspective necessitates inclusion of various groups in their procedures to gain in-depth understanding of how they experience life. As progressive as this call for action sounds, it cannot be successful without collaboration across the entire system. Trends that are unearthed by researchers should be worked upon by policymakers, organizational leaders, and frontline workers in the respective industries.
Aronson, B., & Laughter, J. (2016). The theory and practice of culturally relevant education: A synthesis of research across content areas. Review of Educational Research, 86(1), 163-206.
Lewis, T. T., & Van Dyke, M. E. (2018). Discrimination and the health of African Americans: The potential importance of intersectionalities. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 27(3), 176-182.
Moeller, A. K., & Ashcraft, M. (2017). Creating a culturally relevant environment for the African American learner in the foreign language classroom. Retrieved from https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1169&context=teachlearnfacpub
Tillman, L. C. (2002). Culturally sensitive research approaches: An African-American perspective. Educational researcher, 31(9), 3-12.