Increasing Graduate Students’ Cultural Competency by Using Many Social Media Sites
Higher education to varying degrees uses social media for instruction, making social media effects on cultural competency an important educational issue. The underlying problem of this study is that the relationships between graduate students’ areas of academic study, their geographical region of origin, their use of social media sites, and their cultural sensitivity skills, are unclear. This problem is important because the literature reflects inconsistent findings about the relationship between graduate students’ characteristics and their types of cultural sensitivity. The purpose of the current study is to identify whether differences in graduate students’ disciplines of study, geographical regions of origin, number of social media sites used, and frequency of social media site use resulted in strengthened cultural competency. Theoretically, the study is founded in Hofstede’s definition of cultural competency and applies Chen and Starosta’s Intercultural Sensitivity Scale to define types of cultural competency. The overall research question is: What relationship exists between graduate students’ areas of academic study, geographical region of origin, frequency and number of social media sites used, and their cultural sensitivity aspects. The quantitative design used parametric correlation and nonparametric ANOVA analyses. The number of social media sites used was positively correlated with increased interaction confidence and interaction effectiveness forms of cultural competency. Participants who used Facebook, Pinterest, and blogging, demonstrated statistically significantly increased cultural competency on the interaction engagement, interaction confidence, and interaction effectiveness subscales of the Intercultural Sensitivity Scale. These results suggest that education interventions that encourage the use of multiple social media sites during learning will increase graduate students’ cultural competency.