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2 Ethnic Diversity in Clinical Psychology: Recruitment and Admission Practices Among Doctoral Programs Rocio Muñoz-Dunbar Annette L. Stanton University of Kansas Downloaded By: [Michigan State University] At: 18:30 17 December 2009 Graduate admissions directors (N = 72) of American Psychological Association-accredited clinical psychology doctoral programs reported on ethnic minority student recruitment and admission practices. Most programs (98%) reported efforts to recruit minority applicants, with 82% using flexible criteria, most often for Graduate Record Examination scores and grade point average. For 1994, ethnic minority composition of the applicant pool was 12%, whereas ethnic minority individuals represented 25% of offers of acceptance and 22% of incoming classes. Directors identified community characteristics, financial issues, and existing minority student representation as influencing successful recruitment. Empirical correlates of minority student representation were ethnic minority faculty representation and research opportunities in ethnic minority issues. Use of a task force to aid recruitment related significantly to greater minority representation in the incoming class. Prior to 1973, graduate training experiences designed to prepare clinical and counseling psychology students to work effectively with ethnic minority populations were rare. A recommendation of the 1973 Vail conference was that psychology training programs be required to provide curricular and practicum experiences related to a range of multicultural and ethnic perspectives (Korman, 1974). A further advance in 1986 was the inclusion of Criterion II among the seven criteria evaluated by the American Psychological Association (APA) Committee on Accreditation (1986). Criterion II addressed the need to impart attitudes of social responsibility and respect for cultural and individual differences to students in all aspects of a program s operation as well as the need to foster knowledge and skills relevant to human diversity to promote psychologists competence in serving persons of diverse ethnic backgrounds. Unfortunately, the literature suggests that this increased attention to ethnic diversity has not translated fully into increased participation of ethnic minorities in the profession. The 5-year report of the Policy and Planning Board (APA, 1995) indicated that, as of 1994, ethnic minorities composed only 5% of the APA membership. Also, the percentage of minority faculty in graduate departments of psychology in the United States ranged from 6 to 8% during 1990 to 1996, and the percentage of doctorates awarded in clinical psychology to minorities ranged from 9.0% to 12.1% during 1990 to 1994 (APA Research Office, 1996). These figures are considerably lower than the 25% ethnic minority representation in the 1996 U.S. population but comparable to the 10.3% of doctorates in all disciplines awarded to ethnic minority individuals in 1994 (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1997). To integrate ethnic diversity into the overall operation of training programs, a critical mass of minority students and faculty is advisable (Guzman, 1991). Given that the available pool of ethnic minority faculty is small, training programs must actively recruit and support ethnic minority students. Hammond and Yung (1993) estimated that, to achieve more appropriate representation, graduation rates of ethnic minority students would need to triple from their present level. Recent evidence (APA Research Office, 1996) indicates that successful recruitment of minority students is increasing, with 23% ethnic minority doctoral student representation in psychology programs in 1995 to Clearly, recruitment at the graduate and earlier levels is an important step toward the ethnic diversification of psychology. The question of criteria for admission to graduate programs is critical. Although the mean scores of minority students consistently fall about one standard deviation below those of the rest of the American population on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE; Diaz, 1990), many ethnic minority students perform as well in graduate programs as nonminority students with higher GRE scores (Stricker, 1990). Many programs that have recruited a significant number of ethnically diverse students have reevaluated their admission criteria, considering factors in addition to standardized test scores and incorporating alternative approaches for evaluating minority candidates (Guzman, 1991). Although the literature to date underscores the need to recruit increased numbers of ethnic minority students by doctoral programs in psychology, it does not shed much light on how to do so. The purpose of this study was to examine the graduate recruitment and admissions process for ethnic minority students in clinical psychology and to provide a preliminary evaluation of its success. We hypothesized that the ability to attract ethnic minority candidates would be associated with specific contextual characteristics, including representation of ethnic minorities in the community, faculty, and graduate student body; opportunity to focus on ethnic minority issues in courses, research, and applied work; and programmatic efforts to recruit ethnic minority applicants. Method In April 1994, we contacted graduate admissions directors of the 165 APA-accredited doctoral programs in clinical psychology (APA, 1993) by mail. They received a cover letter, a questionnaire, and a stamped return envelope. The instru- Vol. 26, No. 4,
3 ment requested data on demographics, minority-related curricula and training opportunities, admissions criteria, effectiveness of minority recruitment efforts, and self-reported factors contributing to success and difficulty experienced in recruitment efforts. Three weeks later, admissions directors who had not returned a questionnaire received a second mailing. Of the 165 graduate admissions directors contacted, 47% (N = 78) responded. Some respondents commented on the study s lack of applicability to the 12 clinical programs in Canada initially included in the survey. Canadian legislation specifically prohibits asking for any race-related information by programs, and the minority groups existing in Canada are not adequately represented by the categories used in this survey. We eliminated the six returned questionnaires from Canadian respondents from analyses. Results pertain only to the remaining respondents (N = 72). Demographic Data Results On average, respondents had spent 5 years as admissions directors (SD = 4.97). One third were women. The mean years since earning their doctorates was (SD = 9.07). Most respondents were in public institutions (74%). The mean number of students attending the institutions was 20,470 (SD = 12,555). On average, the ethnic composition of the institutions cities and surrounding areas was 69% White, 16% African American, 9% Hispanic, 4% Asian American, and 2% Native American. The average number of faculty members in the programs represented in this study was 12.5 (SD = 12.1), with 67% men and 9.8% ethnic minorities. The ethnic composition of graduate student bodies was 79.6% White, 7.8% African American, 6.5% Hispanic, 4% Asian American, 1.2% Native American, and 1% other. The mean number of graduate students was 53.5 (SD = 25.5). The programs surveyed had a mean of eight faculty members and two graduate students on their graduate admissions committees. Ethnic Minority Curricula and Training Opportunities Sixty-seven percent of directors reported that their programs offered at least one course dealing specifically with ethnic minority issues. The courses had been available for a mean of 5.06 years (SD = 3.53). Almost all respondents from programs lacking a specific course on ethnic minority issues remarked that these issues were addressed appropriately in their core courses. Graduate admissions directors indicated that an average of 16% of their faculty members were conducting research specifically pertaining to ethnic minority populations (SD = 15.87). Ninety-four percent of the programs reported offering opportunities for their graduate students to acquire clinical experience working specifically with ethnic minority populations; students spent a mean of 23% of their clinical hours working with ethnic minority populations (SD = 23.38). Attitudes Toward Ethnic Diversification Respondents used a 7-point scale ranging from 1 (definitely no) to 7(definitely yes) to rate their opinions on ethnic minority diversification of clinical psychology programs. The mean rating given by graduate admissions directors on the need to diversify the discipline was 6.3 (SD =.96), the mean for the need for specific program efforts to recruit ethnically diverse students was 6.5 (SD =.75), and the mean for the need to use flexible criteria to evaluate minority applicants was 5.5 (SD = 1.60). Almost all (98%) programs reported making specific efforts to recruit ethnic minority applicants. As recruitment tools, 88% of the respondents offered fellowships to ethnic minority students, 63% made use of the GRE Minority Locator Services, 54% had a specific task force or committee to target minority students, 21% used advertisement as a recruitment tool, and 21% had printed materials geared specifically toward recruiting ethnic minority students. Using a 7-point scale ranging from 1 (not at all effective)to 7(extremely effective) to rate the effectiveness of each program s overall efforts to recruit ethnic minority applicants, respondents reported a mean perceived effectiveness of 4.8 (SD = 1.40). Selection Criteria Used by Training Programs Table 1 reflects the sources of information that training programs used in selecting graduate students. Respondents rated the importance of each source of information using a 7-point scale ranging from 1 (not at all important) to 7(extremely important). Research experience or commitment to research was the most important, followed by letters of recommendation, statement of purpose, GRE quantitative subtest scores, interviews, and overall grade point average Table 1. Selection Criteria and Flexibility Used to Select Future Graduate Students Importance Rating M a Flexibility Yes (%) b Research experience/commitment Letters of recommendation Statement of purpose GRE quantitative subtest score Interview Overall undergraduate/graduate GPA GRE verbal subtest score Junior/senior GPA Ethnic minority status 5.53 NA GPA in psychology courses Clinical experience/commitment Quality of undergraduate institution GRE Psychology subtest score GRE analytical subtest score Undergraduate honors Writing sample Extracurricular activities Gender balance in class 3.02 NA Financial status Note. Ratings range from 1 (not at all important) to7(extremely important). GRE = Graduate Record Examination; GPA = grade point average. a n = 72. b Percentages reflect the proportion of programs, among those that made use of flexible criteria to evaluate ethnic minority applicants (N = 59), that exercised flexibility on each source of information from applicants. 260 Teaching of Psychology
4 Source Table 2. Percentages of Ethnic Minorities in Applicant Pools, Acceptance Offers, and Incoming Students Applicant Pool (GPA). Of the 19 sources of information rated, ethnic minority status ranked ninth. Asked whether and how their graduate admissions process made use of flexible criteria when evaluating ethnic minority applicants, 82% of respondents indicated that they exercised flexibility. Table 1 displays factors to which the flexibility applied. The data indicate that programs were most likely to be flexible about GRE scores and overall GPA. Data on Incoming Students Acceptance Offers Incoming Students African American Asian American White Hispanic Native American Total ethnic minority Note. N = 72 programs. Applicants (M = 302); offers (M = 18); students (M = 10). Respondents also provided data on the numbers and ethnic composition of applicant pools, offers of acceptance, and incoming graduate student groups. Data in Table 2, pertaining to the Fall 1994 semester, reveal that ethnic minority composition of the applicant pool was approximately 12%, whereas ethnic minority individuals represented 25% of offers of acceptance and 22% of incoming graduate classes. Factors Affecting Effectiveness in Recruiting Ethnic Minority Applicants Responding to an open-ended question, graduate admissions directors identified factors that aided or hindered their recruitment efforts. Fifty-five respondents identified hindrances, and 57 identified facilitative factors. The majority of factors fell into three categories: (a) characteristics of the community, (b) financial issues, and (c) existing ethnic minority graduate student representation. Nine respondents identified factors that did not fall into these three categories. Eighteen respondents identified characteristics of the community such as advantageous geographical location, diversity of the community, and existing community resources as contributing to their success in recruiting ethnic minority applicants. Six respondents identified poor geographical location, small-town environments, unwelcoming communities, and homogeneity of the surrounding area as factors contributing to recruitment difficulties. Fourteen directors reported that the availability of fellowships, grants held by faculty, monies specifically allocated for ethnic minority graduate students, and other forms of financial support played an important role in recruitment efforts. Nineteen respondents reported the lack of specific financial packages for minorities and a paucity of financial resources in general had hindered successful recruitment. The characteristics of the existing graduate student body and, more specifically, having a critical mass of minority students already in the program appeared to play an important role in recruitment efforts. Sixteen graduate admissions directors indicated that the success of minority graduates and efforts of current minority students, their involvement in recruiting, and their presence played an important role. Only one respondent reported that a lack of minority students in the graduate program was related to difficulty in attracting minority applicants. Correlates of Ethnic Minority Student Representation We computed correlations and t tests to assess the relations of the proportion of current ethnic minority student representation in the programs with factors hypothesized to contribute to minority student accrual. Although higher ethnic minority graduate student representation was not associated with ethnic representation in the university community, it was related to the proportion of minority faculty in the clinical program, r(61) =.28, p <.05. Minority representation also was associated with the proportion of faculty conducting research on ethnic minority issues, r(59) =.43, p <.001, but not with the opportunity to conduct clinical work with minority populations or the availability of a specific course on ethnic issues. Total student minority representation was not associated with any specific measure designed to recruit minority applicants. With regard to associates of ethnic minority representation in the newly recruited class, representation was associated modestly with total minority student representation, r(58) =.23, p <.09. It was associated significantly with the use of a task force to aid in minority recruitment efforts, t(60) = 2.24, p <.05. On average, programs that used a task force had 25% incoming minority representation and those that did not had 17% representation. No other variable was associated with minority representation in the incoming class. Discussion We first note some caveats regarding interpretation of the results. Although the response rate (47%) is typical for a mail survey of this type, response bias is a possibility. However, the ethnic representation of the cities and surrounding areas in which the responding programs were located, on average, approximated that of the current U.S. population. The programs also had a similar percentage of minority faculty (9.8%) to that in clinical programs (9.3%) for the 1993 to 1994 academic year (APA Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation, personal communication, December 1996). However, the ethnic minority student representation in the respondent programs (19.5%) was somewhat greater than that in accredited clinical programs nationally (16.4%; APA Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation, personal communication, December 1996). It is possible that programs successful in ethnic minority recruitment were over-represented in this sample. In addition, public institutions were somewhat over-represented (74% response vs. Vol. 26, No. 4,
5 60% in pool). Second, the survey relied on the self-report of clinical admissions directors, and we had no independent means to verify the accuracy of the data. Finally, results pertain solely to APA-accredited doctoral programs in clinical psychology; generalizability to master s programs, non-apaaccredited programs, and other psychology graduate programs is untested. Attitudinal data suggested that graduate admissions directors in general are committed to ethnic diversification of the field. Moreover, 82% reported exercising flexibility when evaluating ethnic minority applicants GRE scores and GPAs. Of 19 sources of application information rated by respondents, ethnic minority status ranked ninth, suggesting that programs devote some consideration to minority status as an independent source of information during the selection process. On average, programs also are making active attempts to recruit ethnic minority students. Assuming that qualifications of graduate school applicants are comparable among ethnic groups, the data indicate a marked tendency of programs to extend offers of acceptance to a greater proportion of minority than to nonminority applicants (approximately 12% of the applicant pool was ethnic minority; programs reported extending offers to a group that was almost 25% minority). These offers resulted in incoming student groups that averaged almost 22% ethnic minority graduate students in 1994 in the responding programs. The factors identified by graduate admissions directors as aiding or hindering recruitment efforts emphasize the critical role played by the existence of funds targeted to recruit and train minority students. The existing literature concurs with this finding; the cost of completing a graduate program can be quite high, perhaps prohibitively so for minority students who are more likely than nonminority students to be dependent on their own financial resources (Echemendia & Congett, 1991; Guzman, 1991; Hammond & Yung, 1993; Myers, Echemendia,& Trimble, 1991). Results suggest that advocacy efforts must involve a significant commitment of funds to recruit and retain ethnic minority students. That financial incentive was not associated empirically with successful recruitment in this study may reflect the fact that programs with designated funding may not have sufficient incentives to attract multiple ethnic minority students. For example, some programs may offer only one minority-designated fellowship. The existence of community-related factors that hinder recruitment, such as geographical location or homogeneity of the community, should not keep programs from renewing efforts toward achieving greater diversity among students and faculty. Some successful programs have overcome community-related problems by increasing attention to other factors. For example, Pennsylvania State University is located within a rural, relatively financially disadvantaged community; ethnic minorities compose only 3% of the county population. However, ethnic minority students comprise 33% of recent clinical graduates at that site; the dedication of the existing body of minority students, the development of pertinent curricula, and extensive recruitment efforts are potential contributors to successful recruitment (Echemendia & Congett, 1991). Although an existing mass of minority students in the program plays a role in recruitment efforts, only one respondent identified the lack of such students as hindering recruitment. Directors reported that involving current graduate students in the recruitment process and in follow-up with potential students played a role in successful recruitment. Successful programs also establish systems for current students to assist incoming ones to make a successful transition into their communities (Echemendia & Congett, 199l; Green, Tovar, & Sandvold, 1991; Guzman, 1991). With regard to empirical correlates of ethnic minority student representation, the significant association obtained between the numbers of ethnic minority faculty and those of minority graduate students in the programs followed trends reported in the literature. Jones (1990) indicated that programs with a larger percentage of ethnic minority faculty also had larger numbers of ethnic minority students. The proportion of faculty conducting research on multicultural issues also was associated with minority student representation in our study. The data indicate that programs committed to diversifying student ranks should intensively recruit minority faculty members and faculty interested in ethnic issues. Stricker (1990) reported that potential ethnic minority students tend to measure institutional sensitivity to minority concerns by the presence or absence of minority faculty members, and they approach the selection of graduate programs accordingly. It also is possible that a graduate student body vitally committed to multicultural research may aid the recruitment of new faculty with like interests. That is, reciprocal causality in the relation between ethnic minority student and faculty representation is likely. The percentage of programs offering at least one course dealing specifically with ethnic minority issues (67%) is close to the percentage found in previous studies (62% as reported in Bernal & Castro, 1994). The existence of a separate course to address ethnic issues may comprise a first step in the development of minority mental health training programs (Myers et al., 1991). However, the presence of such a course and relevant clinical training was not related to greater minority student representation in this study. Perhaps the finding that almost all programs reported integrating minority-related issues into their core curriculum and clinical training accounts for this lack of association. Survey respondents reported using a number of recruitment tools; however, only 54% had a specific task force or committee to target minority students, and this factor was associated with more successful minority recruitment. Successful programs, such as Oklahoma State University (Green et al., 1991), rely on a comprehensive recruitment process that includes extensive follow-up contacts with identified potential minority applicants, specific recruitment materials, and recruitment visits to other schools and community groups. Results of this study support the observation that a critical mass of ethnic minority faculty and students tends to support itself through subsequent involvement in recruitment and retention activities. To increase the pool of graduate school minority applicants, undergraduate programs should actively involve minority undergraduates in research activities and encourage them to pursue careers in psychology. Mentoring programs, for example, are excellent avenues for undergraduate students to establish sound relationships with faculty members who, in turn, can expose the students to the academic world. Exposure of students to relevant APA involvements, such as APA President Suinn s (1999) initiative to 262 Teaching of Psychology
6 highlight and stimulate involvement in ethnic minority issues in psychology and the Society for the Psychological Study of Ethnic Minority Issues (Division 45) journal, Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, is warranted. The data suggest that a number of graduate programs in clinical psychology have combined the energy and creativity of their faculty and student ranks to recruit and retain significant numbers of ethnic minority students. The paths that have contributed to their success can be followed by other programs to achieve a true ethnic diversification of psychology. References American Psychological Association. (1986). Accreditation handbook. Washington, DC: Author. American Psychological Association. (1993). APA-accredited doctoral programs in professional psychology. American Psychologist, 48, American Psychological Association. (1995). Five year report of the policy and planning board, American Psychologist, 50, American Psychological Association Research Office. (1996). Data compiled on ethnic minority participation in psychology. Washington, DC: Author. Bernal, M. E., & Castro, F. G. (1994). Are clinical psychologists prepared for service and research with ethnic minorities? Report of a decade of progress. American Psychologist, 49, Diaz, E. (1990). Barriers to minorities in the field of psychology and strategies for change. In G. Stricker, E. Davis-Russell, E. Bourg, E. Duran, W. R. Hammond, J. McHolland, K. Polite, & B. E. Vaughn (Eds.), Toward ethnic diversification in psychology education and training (pp ). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Echemendia, R. J., & Congett, S. M. (1991). Ethnic minority clinical training in a rural context: Pennsylvania State University. In H. F. Myers, P. Wohlford, L. P. Guzman, & R. J. Echemendia (Eds.), Ethnic minority perspectives on clinical training and services in psychology (pp ). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Green, V., Tovar, E. J., & Sandvold, K. (1991). The psychology diversified students program at Oklahoma State University. In H. F. Myers, P. Wohlford, L. P. Guzman, & R. J. Echemendia (Eds.), Ethnic minority perspectives on clinical training and services in psychology (pp ). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Guzman, L. P. (1991). Incorporating cultural diversity into psychology training programs. In H. F. Myers, P. Wohlford, L. P. Guzman, & R. J. Echemendia (Eds.), Ethnic minority perspectives on clinical training and services in psychology (pp ). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Hammond, W. R., & Yung, B. (1993). Minority student recruitment and retention practices among schools of professional psychology: A national survey and analysis. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 24, Jones, J. M. (1990). Invitational address: Who is training our ethnic minority psychologists, and are they doing it right? In G. Stricker, E. Davis-Russell, E. Bourg, E. Duran, W. R. Hammond, J. McHolland, K. Polite, & B. E. Vaughn (Eds.), Toward ethnic diversification in psychology education and training (pp ). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Korman, M. (1974). National conference on levels and patterns of professional training in psychology. American Psychologist, 29, Myers, H. F., Echemendia, R. J., & Trimble, J. E. (1991). The need for training ethnic minority psychologists. In H. F. Myers, P. Wohlford, L. P. Guzman, & R. J. Echemendia (Eds.), Ethnic minority perspectives on clinical training and services in psychology (pp. 3 11). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Stricker, G. (1990). Keynote address: Minority issues in professional training. In G. Stricker, E. Davis-Russell, E. Bourg, E. Duran, W. R. Hammond, J. McHolland, K. Polite, & B. E. Vaughn (Eds.), Toward ethnic diversification in psychology education and training (pp. 3 8). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Suinn, R. B. (1999). Progress in ethnic minority psychology: An overview and challenge, or When you wish upon a star. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 5, U.S. Bureau of the Census. (1997). Statistical abstract of the United States: 1997 (117th ed.). Washington, DC: Author. Note Send correspondence to Annette L. Stanton, Department of Psychology, 426 Fraser Hall, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS ; Vol. 26, No. 4,