Critical Reflection to Develop Transformative Consciousness of Racial Differences

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Aspiring educational leaders must understand their own culture and the cultures of others to lead schools effectively and realise equitable outcomes for traditionally marginalised students. To explore the potential for professional learning to affect students’ frames of reference regarding cultural interactions, we analysed self-reflection papers from graduate students within an educational leadership preparation programme at a US public university. We investigated sociocultural distortions of race and ethnicity when students reflected on their first-hand (direct contact and conversations) and second-hand (news reports and stories) encounters with people who are phenotypically different from themselves. The course included readings, discourse, and reflective journaling about racial interactions. We utilised Mezirow’s theory of transformative learning to understand how students developed self-awareness and progressed through stages of intercultural competence and sensitivity. Most participants progressed through developmental stages of intercultural sensitivity, and many moved from ethnocentric to ethnorelative stances. Findings indicate the importance of purposely designing learning experiences that allow aspiring leaders to critically self-reflect on topics of race and equity prior to assuming formal leadership positions.


Published online: 23 Feb 2023.