An Exploratory Factor Analysis of an Open-Access Virtual “Privilege Walk” Instrument

An Exploratory Factor Analysis of an Open-Access Virtual “Privilege Walk” Instrument

Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 57
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7528-3.ch015
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A virtual “privilege walk” is an interactive survey that helps a respondent consider the role of unfair advantage in social relationships and where he or she stands in relation to social power based on family life, access to resources, social positioning and embodiment, and other factors. In 2014, at Kansas State University, an open-access virtual privilege walk was created to align with the launch of a graduate social justice certificate program. This chapter explores that privilege walk instrument through (1) a computational text analysis, (2) descriptive statistics around the responses to the instrument, and (3) an exploratory factor analysis (based on three years of anonymous data) to see how well the underlying factors align with the intended factors and to find directions for improving the instrument.
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One of the challenges in the modern liberal democracies today has been how to integrate peoples from various groups and differences and to do so in a way that is fair, egalitarian, respectful of human dignity, and peaceable. There is an interest in societies to attract the world’s best talents, and ultimately to enable its peoples to reach their full potential (actualization, in the respective individual senses) and to benefit from people’s creativity and talents. The work of e pluribus unum or “out of many one” is no simple feat, and it requires continuous efforts towards this ideal state. Broadly, “social justice” in a society refers to fairness in “the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges” in a society; in another sense, law-based social justice refers to the rectification of wrongs, usually through political and legal means. An early step in helping people understand the issue of social justice, writ large, involves the creation of self-awareness of the individual in a social space that results in highly disparate opportunities for advancement. It involves articulating an ethical and civic responsibility to strive for a more socially just society, to ultimately benefit all.

A common pedagogical tool to begin this learning conversation is the “privilege walk” [also referred to as a “power walk” or “power shuffle” (California Newsreel, 2006, as cited in Shlasko, 2015, p. 352) and as a “line exercise” (Rozas, Winter 2007, p. 8).] “Privilege” is defined as “a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group of people” (Google Search dictionary). It is a reserved good denied to others. Often, such privileges are reserved for elites of various types. Since the launches of face-to-face (F2F) privilege walks in the late 1980s, there have been the deployment of virtual privilege walks deployed online. These may be available in an open-access way or in a restricted way behind log-ins and / or paywalls. How these differ from the face-to-face (F2F) ones and what data they actually capture have not been studied as far as this researcher can tell.

In 2014, to support a new academic program, Kansas State University commissioned the creation of a virtual privilege walk. Since the program’s launch that Fall Semester, 411 individuals have taken the virtual privilege walk, and their anonymized data is analyzed for the first time here. This work explores that privilege walk instrument through (1) a computational text analysis; (2) descriptive statistics around the responses to the instrument; and (3) an exploratory factor analysis (based on three years of anonymous data) to see how well the underlying factors align with the intended factors and to find directions for improving the instrument. This research work has one hypothesis and two supporting sub-hypotheses.

  • Hypothesis 1: An exploratory factor analysis run on respondent data from a virtual privilege walk may be informative about the privilege walk instrument and its design.

  • Hypothesis 1a: An exploratory factor analysis of responses to a virtual privilege walk will identify factors that differ from the conceptualized factors (based on section headings in the instrument).

  • Hypothesis 1b: Results from the exploratory factor analysis may be harnessed to revise and update the original virtual privilege walk.


Review Of The Literature

The original inspiration for contemporary “privilege walks” was published research into white privilege by Peggy McIntosh. In her work, she described the effort in “unpacking the invisible knapsack” as a metaphor for becoming socially aware of privilege among people caught up in “interlocking” hierarchies (1988, 1990, p. 39). She wrote some 25 statements, including the following:

Key Terms in this Chapter

Exploratory Factor Analysis (EFA): A statistical procedure that identifies underlying structures and relationships among measured variables resulting in summary data (unnamed related factors or components), usually applied to scale responses to surveys; often used prior to confirmatory factor analysis (informed by a priori hypothesizing).

Privilege: A social advantage available only to a specific person or people group in a social context.

Multicollinearity: A situation in which a predictor variable in a multiple regression model can be predicted from other variables, which leads to difficulty in observing the effects of independent variables (IVs) on dependent variables (DVs).

Survey Instrument: A survey designed for structured research.

Orthogonal: Unrelated, statistically independent; “at right angles.”

Factor (AKA Component): A summary cluster of items or variables that are statistically related.

Privilege Walk: A learning activity in which people step forwards or backwards depending on their experiences with various forms of social privilege.

Belongingness: A state of feeling included and being a part of a social group.

Latency: The state of being hidden, not yet revealed, not yet manifest.

Reliability: A measure of how well variables measure a particular construct (measured using Cronbach’s Alpha).

Digital Learning Object (DLO): A defined unit of online learning delivered through electronic means.

Scree Plot: A line segment plot that depicts variance in the data, with the principal components that account for the highest variances listed first and those showing lesser amounts in descending order.

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