Intersections of diversity and trainee competence problems: Faculty perspectives from context to "colorblindness"
Miller, David Scott
The dual roles of educators and gatekeepers (Laliotis & Grayson, 1985; Vacha-Haase, Davenport, & Kerewsky, 2004) require faculty to identify and work with students who are identified as having problems of professional competence (TIPPC). Although a number of researchers (e.g., Forrest, Elman, Gizara & Vacha-Haase, 1999; Huprich & Rudd, 2004; Vacha-Haase et al.) have found that on average, at least one student per program is identified as having professional competence problems every three to five years, few have explored trainers' experiences working with colleagues and TIPPCs on trainee remediation or dismissal. Even fewer have explored trainers' processes for working at intersections of diversity with TIPPC, leading some researchers (Forrest et al., 1999) to suggest that programs' mechanisms for identifying and remediating problems of professional competence in training have not adequately addressed intersections with diversity. The omission of these variables is particularly troubling as it may pose threats to the retention of diverse cohorts. Using a Grounded Theory approach, interviews with 22 training directors (TDs) and faculty members were analyzed to explore processes for conceptualizing and addressing intersections of diversity with TIPPC. A model emerged in which participants described dilemmas, examined apparent problems, reached decisions and acted on what they had learned. Processes for conceptualizing and addressing these intersections were embedded in contexts of (a) espoused ideologies and (b) program variables that impacted conversations about intersections of diversity with TIPPC. Participants who espoused a context-attentive approach demonstrated less consistency than participants who espoused a colorblind approach, sometimes losing or discontinuing attention to context during their analyses. Possible reasons for this discrepancy, as well as training, research, and political implications are discussed.