Understanding Students' Perceptions of Cultural Diversity

Citation data:

Walden Dissertations and Doctoral Studies

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Repository URL:
https://scholarworks.waldenu.edu/dissertations/5106; https://scholarworks.waldenu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=6385&context=dissertations
Moss, Catherine
change; culture; diversity; higher education; leadership; transformation; Educational Administration and Supervision; Higher Education Administration; Higher Education and Teaching
thesis / dissertation description
Diversity is a positive aspect of a student's educational experience. Current literature supports the value of diversity, confirming that skills are developed within a diverse learning environment that prepares students to thrive in a competitive global economy. The leadership at University X (UX) had implemented various initiatives to improve diversity, yet the problem addressed in this study was that students perceived differently, citing that diversity growth lacked progress. The goal of this single case study was to bring forth change with a specific intervention created to elevate diversity and a positive campus climate. Maslow's hierarchy of needs was used to explore the perceptions of 8 students regarding diversity progress at UX. Research questions focused on why students perceived little progress had been made toward diversity and how the culture could support diverse students. Face-to-face interviews yielded data analyzed through a descriptive approach, generating findings baring 2 central themes: communication and the existing cultural environment. The resulting project consists of a position paper proposing 2 bold strategies for infusing diversity and inclusion on the campus. Strategy 1 outlines a communication plan designed to facilitate review of UX's guiding documents, along with a regular, ongoing method for communicating to the campus. Strategy 2 proposes the implementation of a university wide cultural sensitivity training for campus membership to heighten cultural awareness. This project contributes to social change by raising knowledge and recognition of cultural diversity that will help perpetuate student persistence, intercultural competency, quality social interactions, a positive racial climate, and well-developed cognitive and leadership skills within the student body.