Iowa Measurement and Research Foundation Summary

Submitted by
Sherry K. Watt, Associate Professor
Higher Education & Student Affairs Program
Department of Educational Policy & Leadership Studies
The University of Iowa
sherry-watt@uiowa.edu

*This research will be conducted in collaboration with Dr. William M. Liu, Professor, Counseling Psychology, Psychological & Quantitative Foundations and Dr. John A. Mueller, Professor in the Department of Student Affairs in Higher Education at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Dr. Rebecca Neel, Department of Psychology & Brain Sciences.

Project Title: Development of an Instrument to Measure Privileged Identity Exploration

The Iowa Measurement Research Foundation has generously funded the support of a half-time research assistant to assist with the development of a new instrument to measure privileged identity exploration.  The research centers on defensive reactions derived from the Watt Privileged Identity Exploration (PIE) model. 

Project and General Overview

The purpose of the pilot study is to develop an instrument that is valid, reliable, and has a factor structure consistent with the privileged identity exploration theory.  In a previous study, I examined responses to difficult dialogues about racism, sexism, homophobia, and ableism of counseling and student affairs professionals in training (Watt, 2007; Watt, Curtiss, Drummond, Kellogg, Lozano, Tagliapietra, & Rosas, 2009). The Privileged Identity Exploration (PIE) Model (Watt, 2007) identifies defensive reactions one has when engaged in difficult dialogue.  These responses are frequently displayed during difficult dialogues or when one engages in reflection on their social, political, and economic position in society. Privileged Identity is a socially construct identity that is historically linked to social or political advantages in a society. Privileged identities might include any socially constructed identity that has advantages, for instance, racial (White), sexual (Heterosexual), gender (Male), religious (Christian), and/or ability (Able-bodied) identities (Watt, 2007).

Phase one focused on developing the privileged identity exploration theory and re-visiting themes that emerged from the original five-year qualitative study that informed the PIE model.  The research team and faculty collaborators updated model assumptions and further developed theoretical concepts.  Phase two focused on refining the definitions of the defensive reactions and placing the defenses along a continuum associated with the privileged identity exploration theory for measurement.  The research team identified core statements to accompany defense definitions and re-ordered the defensive reactions according to increasing complexity and sophistication.  These changes stemmed from concepts developed in phase one.  Updates to the theory were disseminated in a newly released book with Stylus entitled Designing Transformative Multicultural Initiatives: Theoretical Foundations, Practical Applications and Facilitator Considerations (edited by Sherry K. Watt, 2015), presented at a program session at the 2014 American College Personnel Association International Convention.  In addition, we presented an update on the instrument and theory development in a roundtable at the 2015 Association for the Study of Higher Education National Convention in early November.

Phase three focused on the generation of instrument items to measure privileged identity exploration using the PIE defensive reactions as indicators.  The current version of the instrument contains at least nine items for each of the eight defenses, for a total of 80 items. The current version of the instrument focuses on defensive reactions to race, but we expect to develop items for reactions to sexual orientation, gender, and disability as next steps in the instrument development process.  Again, the purpose of the pilot study is to develop an instrument that is valid, reliable, and has a factor structure consistent with the privileged identity exploration theory.

Publications and Presentations as a result of IMRF award period

Watt, S. K. (Ed.) (2015). Designing Transformative Multicultural Initiatives: Theoretical Foundations, Practical Applications and Facilitator Considerations. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing.

Watt, S. K. (2015). Privileged Identity Exploration (PIE) Model Revisited. In S. K. Watt (Eds.), Designing Transformative Multicultural Initiatives: Theoretical Foundations, Practical Applications, and Facilitator Considerations. Sterling, VA: Stylus.

Watt, S. K., Mueller, J., Pasquesi, K., & Kilgo, C., The Privileged Identity Exploration (PIE) Model Revisited. Symposium presented at the American College Personal Association 2015 Convention, American College Educators International (ACPA), Miami, FL. (March 2015).

Watt, S.K., Barajas, R., Parker, E., Kilgo, C.A., & Mollet, A., Updates to the Privileged Identity Exploration (PIE) Model:  Research Findings from a Newly Developed Instrument to Measure Defensive Reactions. Roundtable presented at Association for Study of Higher Education, Denver, CO. (November 2015).

References

Watt, S. K., Curtiss, G., Drummond, J., Kellogg, A., Lozano, A., Tagliapietra, N. G., & Rosas, M. (2009). Privileged Identity Exploration: Examining White Female Counselor Trainee's Reactions to Difficult Dialogue in the Classroom. Counselor Education & Supervision, 49, 86-105.

Watt, S. K. (2007). Developing cultural competence: Facilitating privileged identity exploration in student affairs practice. College Student Affairs Journal 2007 Special Issue, 26(2), 114-126.

Watt, S. K. (2007). Difficult dialogues: Privilege and social justice in student affairs theory and practice. Editor Special Issue of the College Student Affairs Journal, 26(2), Spring 2007.