Critical Consciousness Involving Worldview Inequities Among Undergraduate Students

Amanda Armstrong, William & Mary - School of Education


College students' worldviews and (non)religious beliefs continue to evolve and become more nuanced. Thus, it is crucial that college students make meaning of diverse worldview perspectives and recognize the accompanying inequitable experiences that others encounter because of their worldviews. In promoting research on critical consciousness in their 2018 call for proposals, the Association for the Study of Higher Education invited educators to consider, not only how students engage across differences, but how they recognize, make meaning of, and act upon social inequities. To expand topics of pluralism and interworldview dialogue in higher education, it is important to investigate the phenomenon of critical consciousness in relation to worldview inequities. The purpose of this study was to explore how critical consciousness involving worldview inequities took shape for 15 undergraduate college students (aged 18-24) at one institution, William & Mary. Though some scholars have offered findings regarding students' and administrators' development of critical consciousness, there is not much research focused on how critical consciousness takes shape (i.e., how it is produced in time and space) for students regarding worldview inequities (Vagle, 2018, p. 150). In this study, I used a theoretical borderlands perspective, tenets of intersectionality theory, and a qualitative, post-intentional phenomenological (PIP) methodology. Data sources included two semi-structured interviews with each student participant, student-generated reflections over a two-week period, and my own post-reflexive journaling. Findings from this study are depicted through a primary tentative manifestation (momentarily recognizable aspects of phenomena), which I named emotionality, and two figurations that elucidate how critical consciousness took shape for students in this study.