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Buffalo Project Papers

Effectively Facilitating Cross-Cultural Learning: Lessons Learned from the Buffalo Project

How to Cultivate “Cultural Openness” Among Adult Learners: Practical Examples From the Buffalo Project

Report for “Fostering an ‘Open’ Culture at Empire State College: An Ethnographic Study of Niagara Frontier Center Participant Observations” (AY 2012-2013)

Abstract

This research project grew out of a paper presented at the 2011 All-College Conference of Empire State College (ESC) in Saratoga Springs, NY. As part of a plenary session entitled “Empire State College as an Open University: Open to Whom?” Principal Investigator Rhianna Rogers presented a paper entitled “Is ESC’s Niagara Frontier Center (NFC) a Culturally ‘Open’ Center for Learning?” This paper discussed Rogers’s tentative findings about cultural views within the Niagara Frontier Center (NFC) student population (2010-2011). Data utilized in all stages of this project (2010-2013), combined Western New York (WNY) Regional Census reports, ESC Census data, and general findings from informal and formal surveys to discuss the level of cultural understanding at NFC and whether it correlated with student academic performance, retention, and persistence. Pilot survey data from the AY 2010-2012 indicated a general lack of cultural understanding among student populations and suggested that culturally diverse students were not being adequately engaged. Results of the AY 2012-2013 formal survey reaffirmed many of the pilot survey results, but also yielded new information about WNY culture and its impact on students, not previously considered. Information collected from both the pilot and formal surveys were later used to create cultural activities to engage students at the Center. Positive feedback and regular attendance at these events by student, staff, and faculty suggested the validity of this research. The results of this data collection are articulated in the report presented below.

Report for “Fostering an ‘Open’ Culture at Empire State College: An Ethnographic Study of Niagara Frontier Center Participant Observations” (AY 2013-2014)

Abstract

This paper will discuss the AY 2013-2014 survey results for the Buffalo Project, a full-scale ethnographic study of non-traditional student perceptions of culture at SUNY Empire State College-Niagara Frontier Center (hereafter referred to as NFC). Now in its second year, this project has been successfully impacting cultural understanding and the development of student centered programming at NFC. Data utilized in this stage of this project (AY 2013-2014), combined Western New York (WNY) regional census reports, ESC census data, and general findings from formal surveys to discuss the level of cultural understanding at NFC and whether it correlated with student academic inclusiveness. Previous survey data (AY 2010-2013) indicated a general lack of cultural understanding among student populations and suggested that culturally diverse students were not being adequately engaged. Results of the AY 2013-2014 formal survey reaffirmed many of the previous survey results, but also yielded new information about NFC culture not previously considered. Information from all survey data collected (AY 2010-2014) has been used to create cultural activities to engage students at the Center. Positive feedback and regular attendance at these events by students, staff, and faculty suggest the validity of the data set, support of diversity initiatives at NFC, and benefits of student opinions in inclusive academic programming. The tentative results of this data collection are articulated in the report presented below.