The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of diversity content in higher education classrooms on negative stereotype threat activation in minority students and how that interaction affects their learning process. Current literature agrees that negative stereotype activation has a significant negative impact on cognitive performance. It is our suspicion that the activation of negative stereotype threats interrupts the cognitive learning process of minority students as well. Surveys were distributed to students at a large institution in the Southeastern United States enrolled in undergraduate courses which fulfill either a diversity (D) or international (I) general education requirement. The survey measured perceived diversity and feelings of similarity of the individual students to their classmates and instructors. It also measured their engagement with the materials, topics, and lectures for the course as well as their perceived diversity of actual course content. Correlations were run to analyze the relationships between variables. Results suggest the perceived level of diversity content in a class does affect the level of student engagement and learning and stereotype threat activation. In addition, the class size and perceived similarity of the instructor and classmates to the learning also impact engagement and stereotype threat activation, interrupting the learning process. These findings have implications for how universities can integrate diversity into both their curricula and their student body and how their approach affects minority students.
learning, diversity, stereotypes
Education and Learning in a World of Difference
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session
Lecturer, Family, Youth and Community Sciences, University of Florida, United States