Campus Site Visits

Research activities conducted at site visits on the campus of each participating institution included extensive interviews with key administrators, practitioners, faculty and student groups as well as an extensive collection of campus materials. The focus is to create cross-case analyses (highlighting similarities and unique features of each site) and to gather information about student experiences with diverse peers and "in their own words" determine what they learn from students who are socially/culturally different. This data is unique in that it captures voices of students in multiple university contexts across the nation, allowing for unprecedented opportunities to study student interaction both within and across different campuses.

Highlights of student focus groups
Preliminary analysis has been conducted on seven of the ten campuses. The following table outlines broad construct categories, offering a wide range of interaction patterns among American college students.

Matrix of Codes: Broad Construct Catagories

Construct Definitions
Opportunities for interaction with diverse peers Descriptions and perceptions regarding the nature, extent, initiative or occasion of interaction with diverse peers.
Reaction to the construct "Interaction with diverse peers" Cognitive and affective reaction to the researchers' introduction of the concept "Interaction with diverse peers." May not be apparent in all discussions. This construct is at a higher level of inference than many of the others.
Definitions of Diversity Implicit definitions of diversity apparent in participants' responses. May not be apparent in all discussions. This construct is at a higher level of inference than many of the others.
Student Learning associated with interaction with diverse peers Any comment regarding learning that happened or did not happen as a result of interaction with diverse peers.
Student perceptions of institutional commitment to diversity Participants' comments regarding their own or other students' perceptions of the institutional commitment to diversity on their respective campuses.
Civic/democratic engagement Any comment regarding students' activity and involvement with student groups, leadership roles, political participation, social movements, community groups, community service, committees, student government, etc.
Climate for Diversity General perceptions of the comfort, safety, and opportunity to learn available to diverse students on campus. Opportunity and safety in addressing issues of diversity, hostility toward students of color, discrimination.

Further analysis is under way to provide insight into college students' interactions across dimensions of race, ethnicity and social difference. Thus far the Project has gained knowledge about patterns of student interaction and insight into how students learn to function in a diverse democracy. For example, of special interest to institutions are key findings on structural opportunities for diverse interaction--these lay foundations for institutions to improve practices that simultaneously promote diversity and learning. As they describe their own interactions, some students demonstrate a sophisticated socio-historical understanding of their own roles in society. At the same time, these perceptions also evince high levels of critical thinking. Thus, students who interact with diverse peers may be better prepared to enter an increasingly diverse workforce. Further studies, therefore, will paint a clearer picture of the learning outcomes that can result from diverse student interactions.