Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Dooley, K.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Community Counseling

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Education


Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology and Foundations


In this study, the researcher examined the levels of cultural awareness and knowledge among graduate students enrolled in a counseling program at Mississippi State University. A secondary purpose was to assess differences in the level of cultural awareness between Caucasian and African American graduate students enrolled in this counseling program. The study continued the work of Cottrell (2004) who examined undergraduate student’s levels of cultural awareness and knowledge using the Culture Shock Inventory (CSI). Archival data from his study included a sample of 665 undergraduate students. The sample was extended to include 200 graduate students in a counseling program at Mississippi State University. The data were analyzed using descriptive and bivariate analyses, t tests, for the group of undergraduate and graduate students on their levels of cultural awareness. A multivariate analysis, MANOVA procedure, followed by eight univariate tests, was conducted to study the difference between the two groups, undergraduate and graduate students, and to determine if differences existed between African American and Caucasian American graduate students in counseling. Results from the t-tests for the undergraduate group indicated that these students had low levels of cultural awareness. The t tests for the graduate students also indicated low levels of cultural awareness. The graduate students appeared to lack knowledge of different cultures and seemed to endorse high levels of Western ethnocentrism. The MANOVA procedure indicated statistically significant differences between the undergraduate and graduate students in cultural awareness, with the graduate students in counseling having higher levels of cultural awareness than the undergraduate students. No statistically significant differences in cultural awareness were found between the African and Caucasian American graduate students in counseling.The results of the study appeared to indicate that training in counseling increased graduate counseling student’s observational skills and sensitivity to behavioral cues in dealing with persons from other countries and cultures. However, the counseling students in the study appeared to retain an underlying Western ethnocentrism and a substantial cultural close-mindedness that would impede the counseling relationship when working with persons from foreign countries and other cultural heritages. Implications for the counseling training field were discussed.