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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter February 10, 2006

Attitudes Toward Diversity and Living-Learning Outcomes Among First- and Second-Year College Students

  • Susan D. Longerbeam and William E Sedlacek

Authors examined attitudes towards diversity among college students who participated in a civic type living-learning program. The purpose of this longitudinal study was to examine the differences in students in a civic type living-learning program and a comparison group in undergraduate student understanding and appreciation of diversity. A construct of attitudes toward diversity was measured prior to matriculation and at the end of the first and third semesters of college. Students did not differ in their attitudes towards diversity from prior to matriculation to the end of the third semester. Nor did living-learning students differ from a comparison sample of students in the construct of attitudes toward diversity. The authors discuss several possible reasons for the lack of significant differences— such as attitudes toward diversity generally do not change easily, relative to behaviors; the attrition inherent in a longitudinal study limited sample size; the general difficulty of quantifying significant outcomes of living-learning programs; the importance of allowing sufficient time for reflection (i.e., longer than the first 2 years of college) to reevaluate and then change one’s attitudes; and the need to distinguish between understanding of and appreciation for diversity. Implications for educators are to enhance their understanding of diversity development in order to provide the best learning experience for students, and to measure small cumulative effects of diversity education over time periods longer than 2 years.

Published Online: 2006-2-10

©2011 Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG, Berlin/Boston

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