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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Millennial Project gauges class of ’09’s views on diversity

    An ongoing UA study aims to help the university accommodate its students’ changing views about diversity within the student body.

    The initial results of the Millennial Student Project, a four-year research study in its second year, suggest that incoming students are more accepting of all types of differences, ranging from ethnicity to financial status, than past generations.

    “”Our student populations are really more diverse than they’ve ever been. We want to know how students are thinking about these issues.””

    – Melissa Ousley,
    research analyst for UA Multicultural Programs and Services

    “”Students do value diversity, and they come into college expecting it,”” said Melissa Ousley, research analyst for UA Multicultural Programs and Services.

    The project follows how experiences change students’ perceptions of conflicts and issues between different people and situations.

    “”Our student populations are really more diverse than they’ve ever been,”” Ousley said. “”We want to know how students are thinking about these issues.””

    If universities know what their students believe regarding such issues, those institutions are more able to prepare students to be successful in an increasingly global society, Ousley said.

    To understand how students are thinking about diversity issues, the Millennial Student Project started observing the UA class of 2009 last year by utilizing three modes of data collection.

    There are 500 students, roughly 11 percent of the students contacted about the project, who participate in online surveys, and 60 of those students also participate in individual interviews.

    Researchers, with the assistance of local film company Firehouse Pictures, are also producing a documentary that tracks eight students and their attitudes toward and experiences with diversity as they complete their four-year college careers.

    The students are filmed during individual interviews and focus groups, in which the group of eight discusses questions posed by researchers. They also provide deeper insight into their personal experiences in video diaries.

    “”I think they have a lot of things to say that are going to be pretty compelling,”” Ousley said.

    What the students say could help schools determine how to meet students’ needs in terms of how they react to diversity, Ousley said.

    “”It’s a way to have more understanding and really be really responsive,”” Ousley said.

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