Assessing the impact of diversity courses on students' values, attitudes and beliefs

by Nelson, Matthew, Ed.D., UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, 2010, 193 pages; 3434477


Globalization and changing demographics in the United States have resulted in the need for higher education to prepare students for a global society. To this end, college and universities have responded in a number of ways including in the curriculum with required diversity courses. However the impact of this intervention on students is an area in need of further study. As a result, this quantitative study explores the impact of required diversity courses on measures of students’ values, attitudes, and beliefs.

A large, private research university in the western United States was used the site for this study. Students in the 2004 cohort were given two quantitative college experience surveys, one before they began in 2004 and a follow-up survey in 2008. This data was used along with admissions and transcript data to comprise the data set for the study.

The findings suggest that diversity course impact is significant and measurable as a college student experience. More specifically, the total number of diversity courses taken by a student is significant on two measures (Humanism and Individualism) of students’ values, attitudes, and beliefs. Both speak to preparing students for a global society in terms of promoting awareness and becoming civically engaged. Additionally, there were interesting findings in terms of the background characteristics of students where white students were negatively impacted by diversity courses. Finally, the impact of diversity related experiences was shown to be significant and in some cases negatively impact students’ values, attitudes and beliefs.

Implications for future study include: (1) determining the critical number of diversity courses needed to maximize student impact, (2) comparing within and between groups to determine differential impact of required diversity courses, (3) reviewing the content of all undergraduate courses per the Diversity Typology to find if diversity content exists across the curriculum, (4) reviewing the role of diversity related experiences in magnifying or hindering the impact of diversity courses and (5) examining the classroom dynamic between students and faculty to determine the influence on course outcomes.

AdvisersDarnell Cole; Patricia Tobey
Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsEducational evaluation; Multicultural education; Curriculum development; Higher education
Publication Number3434477

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