Document Type

Dissertation

Date of Degree

Spring 2011

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Counseling, Rehabilitation and Student Development

First Advisor

Ernest T. Pascarella

Abstract

The purpose of this research was to examine the influence of the campus climate for diversity on learning within four racial groups of college students. I used multiple regression to analyze how structural diversity, the psychological climate for diversity, and behavior influence one facet of learning - the need for cognition - for African-American, Asian-American, Latino/a, and White college students in the first year of college.

Three of the eight campus climate for diversity variables appeared to have no effect on need for cognition for any of the four samples: student heterogeneity, faculty heterogeneity, and discussion with faculty and staff whose opinions differ from the students. One variable, the student's value of racial and cultural diversity, a psychological dimension of the campus climate for diversity, had an effect on need for cognition for all four samples.

Four additional variables were significant within different samples. Believing the institution facilitates diverse interactions positively influenced need for cognition for Latino/a students. Taking a diversity course was positive for African-American students. Both interacting with diverse others and participating in a racial/cultural workshop were positive for White students. The findings also suggested that being a first-generation college student or coming from a low-income family moderates the influence of the campus climate for diversity on need for cognition.

Suggestions for future research include creating research designs that ascertain how various racial and economic groups experience the influence of diversity on learning; seeking out new ways to distribute surveys and encourage survey-completion among students of color; looking for interaction effects among diversity experiences; and using hierarchical linear modeling, structural equation modeling, qualitative methods, and mixed methods.

Suggestions for campus practice include maintaining programs designed specifically for students of individual racial groups, as well as low-income and first-generation college students; seeking ways to create a psychological climate that cultivates the belief that diversity is important to learning; providing more courses and workshops focused on racial and cultural diversity; and creating structured opportunities to introduce students to the varying political, religious, and social perspectives held by their peers.

Keywords

cognition, college, diversity, learning, race, students

Pages

vii, 123 pages

Bibliography

Includes bibliographical references (pages 115-123).

Copyright

Copyright 2011 Kathleen M. Goodman

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