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How Race Matters: The Impact Of Student Race On Contributions To Course Discussions Richard N. Pitt, Vanderbilt University Josh R. Packard, Midwestern.

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Presentation on theme: "How Race Matters: The Impact Of Student Race On Contributions To Course Discussions Richard N. Pitt, Vanderbilt University Josh R. Packard, Midwestern."— Presentation transcript:

1 How Race Matters: The Impact Of Student Race On Contributions To Course Discussions Richard N. Pitt, Vanderbilt University Josh R. Packard, Midwestern State University

2 The use of race, in and of itself, to choose students simply achieves a student body that looks different. Such a criterion is no more rational on its own terms than would be choices based upon the physical size or blood type of applicants. Hopwood v. University of Texas (1996) BACKGROUND

3 Learning is maximized when students encounter people with backgrounds and experiences different from their own. (Sleeter and Grant 1994) Students of different racial groups often have differing opinions and viewpoints about a wide range of pressing contemporary issues [such as] the death penalty, consumer protection, health care, drug testing, taxation, free speech, criminal rights, and the prevalence of discrimination. (Chang et al 2005:432) BACKGROUND Diverse Student Body Broader Collection Of Thoughts, Ideas, and Opinions Exposure To Wider Range Of Perspectives INTELLECTUAL ADVANCEMENT AND COGNITIVE COMPLEXITY Classes?

4 Race & Class Race & Gender Or Sexual Orientation Race & A Primary Institution Race & A Secondary Institution QUESTION Links To News-Story Or Blog Extensions From Course Readings Media Depiction Of Race/Racism Discussions In Other Courses Personal Experiences With Racism Second-Hand Experiences With Racism Anger Or Other Emotion About Race Confusion About Their Race/Culture Non-White Public Figures Ethnic Celebrations Minority Institutions (e.g., HBCUs) Races Other Than Black Or White White Ethnics (e.g., Italians) DO WE NEED NON-WHITE STUDENTS IN OUR CLASSES IN ORDER TO GAIN A BROADER COLLECTION OF THOUGHTS, IDEAS, & OPINIONS? Is There A Significant Difference Between White Student & Non-White Student Contributions To Course Discussions

5 Data: 439 Blog Contributions Incidents coded by co-authors and graduate student. Intercoder reliability >90%. Everyone doesnt talk in class but everyones contribution to the class discussions is still necessary. In order to make sure that everyone has a voice (and uses it), I am requiring every student to write comments about the course conversations or lectures. Every student is required to initiate 10 threads on the course web-blog. A thread can be a link to an interesting and relevant webpage (with an explanation), a link to a relevant report or article (with a summary), your comments on the class discussion or lecture, or questions that you might have for me or other students in the class. Instructions For Student Bloggers SAMPLE

6 Class Gender Sexual Orientation A Primary Institution A Secondary Institution Intersection Of Race With: WHITE STUDENTS more likely to contribute FINDINGS It seems to me that there is a completely different atmosphere or culture a teen can experience by either going to a predom- inately white or black high school. I really dont know for sure because I did not go to either type. My high school was extremely diverse, so my experience was very different.

7 FINDINGS Mentions Of: WHITE STUDENTS more likely to contribute I was thinking about why we celebrate Thanksgiving the other day, and Im not sure what to think. The first Thanksgiving was harmonious with local Native Americans, but in later Thanksgiving, settlers probably gave thanks for victories over Native Americans. They helped them survive that first one. WTF? I am a Jewish female who grew up in Jewish family, belonged to a synagogue and had many Jewish friends. However, it wasnt until I came to Vanderbilt that I really feel as though I was in touch with my Jewish heritage. For the first time in my life, I actually want to go to Temple on Fridays and take part in other Hillel- related activities. WHITE STUDENTS more likely to contribute A Specific Non-White Public Figure An Ethnic Celebration Minority Institutions (e.g., HBCUs) Races Other Than Black Or White White Ethnics (e.g., Italians)

8 Personal Experience With Racism Second-hand Experience With Racism Anger Or Other Emotion About Race Confusion About Their Race/Culture Expression/Account Of: FINDINGS I have noticed that an alarming number of times when either friends from home or other white students around campus learn that my roommate is black, they always ask Does he play sport? I dont even know how to react to this because it seems so backwards and racist. Why is there such a stereotype that if my roommate is black he must be an athlete? This whole complexion thing has infuriated me pretty much since I could understand that it exists. First of all, I have my own psychological issues about being light that I need solved apparently. For example, when I look at my skin as compared to a beautiful dark-skinned black person, all I see is a representation of years of rape and suffering during slavery. Result? My in between color. WHITE STUDENTS more likely to contribute When people who havent met me see my name on a piece of paper they often assume I am White. Jessica does not seem too ethnic of a name and I do see the surprise in peoples faces when they finally meet me and see that I am a Black girl. There are countless times in which peers have said Youre Black? I thought you were White all this time. NON-WHITE STUDENTS more likely to contribute

9 Links To News-Story Or Blog Extensions From Course Readings Media Depiction Of Race/Racism Discussions In Other Courses Additional Materials WHITE STUDENTS more likely to contribute FINDINGS NON-WHITE STUDENTS more likely to contribute In the reading for tomorrow, the author claims that race and ethnic definitions used to be used as ways to exclude individuals from equal membership in society but have more recently become a way to include groups and make sure certain groups are not discriminated against. Im not sure if I agree with this. Isnt defining groups to exclude and include them two sides of the same coin? Highlights for the next episode of Real World shows one of the white roommates on the phone saying that he wants to leave the house because some nigger wants to kill me. I was wondering if this is what white people really want to say when they get mad at a black person.

10 SIGNIFICANTLY HIGHER Intersection W/ Secondary Institutions Mention Of Asians, Natives, Hispanics Mention Of White Ethnics Second-Hand Racism Experiences Extensions Of Course Readings FINDINGS SUMMARY White Student Contributions Non-White Student Contributions SIGNIFICANTLY HIGHER First-Hand Racism Experiences Anger Or Other Emotional Expression Media Depictions Of Race/Racism INSIGNIFICANT (BUT HIGHER) Intersection of Race and Class Intersection W/ Primary Institutions Mention Of Ethnic Celebrations Mention of Minority Institutions & Clubs Links To News-Stories & Blogs INSIGNIFICANT (BUT HIGHER) Mention Of Non-White Public Figures Specific Mention Of Their Own Race Discussions In Other Courses INSIGNIFICANT (BUT EQUAL) Intersection W/ Gender Or Sexual Orientation Confusion About Own Race Or Culture INSIGNIFICANT (BUT EQUAL) Intersection W/ Gender Or Sexual Orientation Confusion About Own Race Or Culture

11 QUESTIONS & DISCUSSION Ultimately, are the KINDS of contributions (personal, emotional, media-influenced) non-White students bring to discussions of race important to understanding race in a scholarly context? Are unique contributions (by race) only possible in race courses or race-based conversations? If these contributions ARE possible in other courses, is the impact of diversity lessened in those courses where student interaction is minimal (e.g., large classes, non-lab sciences)?


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