INFO 281-04
INFO 281-16
Cultural Competence for Information Professionals
Spring 2021 Syllabus

Dr. Michele A. L. Villagran
Phone: 626-703-1903
Office Hours:
Virtual office hours & telephone advising by appointment

Syllabus Links
Canvas Login and Tutorials
iSchool eBookstore

Canvas Information: Courses will be available beginning January 27, 2021, at 6 am PT, unless you are taking an intensive or a one-unit or two-unit class that starts on a different day. In that case, the class will open on the first day that the class meets.

You will be enrolled in the Canvas site automatically.

Course Description

Given the increasing diversity in our communities, information professionals need to develop the competencies required to work for and with, diverse groups. This course is designed to prepare future information professionals to develop their cultural competence in order to be able to provide inclusive services to diverse populations. It explores cultural knowledge, skills, abilities, and attributes of cultural competence/intelligence in general.

This is a subject related to all areas of the information profession (i.e., preservation, collections, technology, communication, archives, programming, marketing, etc.). It is important regardless of which type of information organization (private, public, academic) students concentrate on and what type of position (information broker, archivist, librarian, records manager, data analyst, information architect, etc.). This course will complement the information conveyed in other courses. It is designed to introduce students to the theoretical and practical application of cultural competence when working with and serving diverse populations through all aspects of the information profession and allow for students to develop their own cultural competence.

The iSchool utilizes a content management system called Canvas for class communications, submitting assignments, and grade records. This course will be available on Canvas. 

Weekly class sessions run from Wednesday through Tuesday of each week. Weekly material and assignments will be visible in Canvas from the beginning of the semester for students' semester planning. Assignments are generally due TUESDAYS at 11:59 pm Pacific Time. NOTE: Set your calendars up to consider Pacific Time for due dates. Late assignments will not be accepted. 

Spring Session (January 27 - May 17, 2021).  Canvas site usually remains open 30 days after the close of class so remember to make copies of your work, discussion comments, etc., for your portfolios.

Course Requirements


Reflection Paper #1

Students will participate in an assessment to learn about their own implicit biases. Students will reflect upon their results and write a paper addressing their reactions to the IAT assessment, agreement/disagreement with the results and why, and how being aware of your own biases is important in the workplace. (Course Learning Outcomes: #1)

Reflection Paper #2

Students will participate in an activity with a cultural group or underserved population with which they do not identify and then reflect on their own experience afterward. Students will write a paper defining their cultural group, discussing the venue, and summarize their feelings and thoughts during participation [A list of potential populations is provided in the course] (Course Learning Outcomes: #1#2)

Research Paper

Students will research the guidelines/standards for a particular information organization type and write a paper related to their findings (see the list of suggestions within the course). Are there any specific to cultural competence? If so, review and report what else you would add. If not, draft a brief guideline/standards for your type of information organization. Review week 1-2 again for ideas on terminology and history within the profession. (Course Learning Outcomes: #2#3)


Students will delve deeper into an area of cultural competence/intelligence covered in class or another that is discovered on their own and focus specifically on how they feel it relates to an area(s) of the information profession. Students will need to clear their own topic with the instructor before you begin. Students will deliver a 5-minute lightning talk - this requires PowerPoint or other media presentation. The goals are to 1) create a presentation that clearly and accurately describes the topic and makes a compelling argument as to how said topic is/should be incorporated into practice, 2) clear and appropriate use of presentation/media, 3) evidence the presentation has been informed by the literature and class resources, and 4) adheres to time limit. (Course Learning Outcomes: #1#2#3)


Students will be required to agree that they will take several assessments (i.e., Implicit Association Test, Cultural Intelligence Scale), and may submit results with their assignments to their instructor. Results will not be used beyond the class without a student's permission. The Cultural Intelligence Scale is a $25 cost per student, which students will directly pay through the CQC portal. (Course Learning Outcomes: #1)

Discussion Posts

Students will research and explore various topics related to cultural competence and reflect on them in discussion posts. Students will author ten (10) discussion posts of 300 words, each minimum, including introductory and final reflective posts. The majority of posts (8) have a guided topic for students to explore (see Discussion Topics below). (Course Learning Outcomes: #1#2#3)

Discussion Topics

  • Values
  • Cultural Competence Continuum
  • Interaction with a cultural group
  • Improving cultural knowledge 
  • Value orientations
  • Applying strategy to a cultural challenge
  • Cultural action
  • Leading across cultures

Final Paper

Students will complete their personal development plan within their feedback report. Students will write a final paper based on their reading in the scholarly and professional literature and the personal development plan they develop. The final papers should include goals in light of your role and/or desired outcomes. Taking time to fill out the plan will help you gain the most benefit from the CQ assessment and is a crucial part of improving cultural competence. The scholarly and professional literature should support their development plan. The paper should be a minimum of 3000 words in length; the reference list should have at least 10 sources; and the formatting should follow the APA Publication Manual Style (7th ed.). (Course Learning Outcomes: #1#2#3)


Assignment Point Value

Due Dates

Reflection Paper #1-2

Research Paper

25 points each (75 total)

See Course Calendar & Weekly Module Schedule below and Canvas Assignments Page

Presentation 25 points  
2 Assessments 10 points each (20 total)  

10 Discussion Posts

10 points each (100 total)  
Final Paper 80 points  

NOTE: Set your calendars up to consider Pacific Time for due dates as Canvas will consider your assignment late if you submit after time/day set. 

All work will be of graduate standard. This means:

  • No assignments submitted after the due date and time
  • Spelling, grammatical, and syntactical errors will not be allowed.
  • All work cited should be in full accordance with the style format selected.

Late assignments will not be accepted. If you have an illness (medical certificate supplied) or a family tragedy, please contact the instructor.

Course Calendar & Weekly Module Schedule (subject to change with fair notice)


Module Topic

Assignment & Activities

Using a Wednesday to Tuesday week. 

Spring semester begins January 27.

Week 1: January 27-February 2

Cultural Competence/Intelligence: An introduction

Discussion Post #1 due Tuesday, February 2 @11:59 pm PT

Week 2: February 3- 9

History of Discussions about Cultural Competence/Intelligence in Library and Information Professions

Importance of Values

Values Wheel

Discussion Post #2 due Tuesday, February 9 @11:59 pm PT

Week 3: February 10-16

Implicit (Unconscious) Bias

Assessment: Implicit Association Test

Guest Speaker

Reflection Paper #1 due Tuesday, February 16 @11:59 pm PT

Week 4: February 17-23

Cultural Competence frameworks and models

Discussion Post #3 due Tuesday, February 23 @11:59 pm PT

Week 5: February 24-March 2

Application in different type of information organization (private, public, academic)

Research Standards

Guest Speaker

Research Paper due Tuesday, March 2 @11:59 pm PT

Week 6: March 3-9

Cultural Intelligence Framework

Assessment: Cultural Intelligence Scale

Week 7: March 10-16

CQ Drive (Motivation): Intrinsic interest, extrinsic interest, self-efficacy

Discussion Post #4 due Tuesday, March 16 @11:59 pm PT

Week 8: March 17-23

CQ Knowledge (Cognition): Cultural-general understanding, context-specific understanding

Cultural Experience

Reflection Paper #2 due Tuesday, March 23 @11:59 pm PT

Discussion Post #5 due Tuesday, March 23 @11:59 pm PT

Week 9: March 24-30

Cultural Value Orientations

Discussion Post #6 due Tuesday, March 30 @11:59 pm PT

Guest Speaker

Week 10: March 31-April 6

(Spring Recess March 29-April 2; Cesar Chavez Day March 31)

CQ Strategy (Metacognition): planning, awareness, checking

Discussion Post #7 due Tuesday, April 6 @11:59 pm PT

Week 11: April 7-13

CQ Action (Behavioral): speech acts, verbal and nonverbal actions

Discussion Post #8 due Tuesday, April 13 @11:59 pm PT

Week 12: April 14-20

Application in different areas of the information profession (i.e., preservation, technology, communication, archives, marketing, etc.)

Presentation: 5-minute lightning talk due Tuesday, April 20 @11:59 pm PT

Week 13: April 21-27

Cultural Competence & Leadership

Discussion Post #9 due Tuesday, April 27 @11:59 pm PT

Guest Speaker

Week 14: April 28-May 4

Action Plan

Final Paper due Tuesday, May 4 @11:59 pm PT

Week 15: May 5-11

Final Reflections

Discussion Post #10 due Tuesday, May 11 @11:59 pm PT

Week 16: May 12-17

Course Wrap Up

SOTES and Review

Inclusion Statement

Students are expected to participate fully in all class activities. It is expected that students will be open-minded and participate fully in discussions in class and debate in a mature and respectful manner. Use of derogatory, condescending, or offensive language including profanity is prohibited. Disagreement is healthy and perfectly acceptable. Expressing disagreement should always include an explanation of your reasoning and, whenever possible, evidence to support your position. In accordance with San José State University's Policies, the Student Code of Conduct, and applicable state and federal laws, discrimination based on gender, gender identity, gender expression, race, nationality, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or disability is prohibited in any form.

Course Workload Expectations

Success in this course is based on the expectation that students will spend, for each unit of credit, a minimum of forty-five hours over the length of the course (normally 3 hours per unit per week with 1 of the hours used for lecture) for instruction or preparation/studying or course related activities including but not limited to internships, labs, clinical practica. Other course structures will have equivalent workload expectations as described in the syllabus.

Instructional time may include but is not limited to:
Working on posted modules or lessons prepared by the instructor; discussion forum interactions with the instructor and/or other students; making presentations and getting feedback from the instructor; attending office hours or other synchronous sessions with the instructor.

Student time outside of class:
In any seven-day period, a student is expected to be academically engaged through submitting an academic assignment; taking an exam or an interactive tutorial, or computer-assisted instruction; building websites, blogs, databases, social media presentations; attending a study group;contributing to an academic online discussion; writing papers; reading articles; conducting research; engaging in small group work.

Course Prerequisites

INFO 200, INFO 202, INFO 204, other prerequisites may be added depending on content

Course Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to:

  1. Describe cultural dimensions, cultural factors, bias and how they could affect effective information services, training, programming, organizing and other efforts in the information profession.
  2. Describe cultural competence knowledge, skills, abilities and attributes, and employ these to strategies within a selected information environment in order to recognize, appreciate and support differences and similarities of culture of patrons, employees, stakeholders.
  3. Compare frameworks and models of cultural competence and intelligence. Identify best practices for application within a selected information environment.

Core Competencies (Program Learning Outcomes)

INFO 281 supports the following core competencies:

  1. C Articulate the importance of designing programs and services supportive of diversity, inclusion, and equity for clientele and employees.
  2. O (For students entering from Spring 2015 onwards) Understand global perspectives on effective information practices that are supportive of cultural, economic, educational, or social well-being.


No Textbooks For This Course.

Grading Scale

The standard SJSU School of Information Grading Scale is utilized for all iSchool courses:

97 to 100 A
94 to 96 A minus
91 to 93 B plus
88 to 90 B
85 to 87 B minus
82 to 84 C plus
79 to 81 C
76 to 78 C minus
73 to 75 D plus
70 to 72 D
67 to 69 D minus
Below 67 F


In order to provide consistent guidelines for assessment for graduate level work in the School, these terms are applied to letter grades:

  • C represents Adequate work; a grade of "C" counts for credit for the course;
  • B represents Good work; a grade of "B" clearly meets the standards for graduate level work or undergraduate (for BS-ISDA);
    For core courses in the MLIS program (not MARA, Informatics, BS-ISDA) — INFO 200, INFO 202, INFO 204 — the iSchool requires that students earn a B in the course. If the grade is less than B (B- or lower) after the first attempt you will be placed on administrative probation. You must repeat the class if you wish to stay in the program. If - on the second attempt - you do not pass the class with a grade of B or better (not B- but B) you will be disqualified.
  • A represents Exceptional work; a grade of "A" will be assigned for outstanding work only.

Graduate Students are advised that it is their responsibility to maintain a 3.0 Grade Point Average (GPA). Undergraduates must maintain a 2.0 Grade Point Average (GPA).

University Policies

Per University Policy S16-9, university-wide policy information relevant to all courses, such as academic integrity, accommodations, etc. will be available on Office of Graduate and Undergraduate Programs' Syllabus Information web page at: Make sure to visit this page, review and be familiar with these university policies and resources.

In order to request an accommodation in a class please contact the Accessible Education Center and register via the MyAEC portal.

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