Statesman Article Details Prof Roksa's Research on Negative Diversity Experiences


The Statesman

Article from The Statesman discusses Curry professor Josipa Roksa's research on effects of negative diversity experiences in schools.

Study finds negative diversity experiences can harm students

Students entering college for the first time are often immersed in a world of diversity – different cultures, ethnicities, religions and backgrounds. And while more students report having positive diversity experiences, including meaningful discourse, it’s the few negative experiences that are truly detrimental, according to a recent study published in The Journal of Higher Education.

“Engaging With Diversity: How Positive and Negative Diversity Interactions Influence Students’ Cognitive Outcomes,” published on Jan. 27, found that negative diversity interactions signaled a stronger need for cognitive understanding and critical thinking skills. Similarly, positive diversity interactions indicated an already strong foundation of critical thinking skills.

“Students who have positive interactions like to think how to solve problems, how to think critically, and engage in more thoughtful and complex thinking,” Josipa Roksa, associate professor of sociology and education at the University of Virginia and the lead researcher of the study, said. “And the students who have negative experiences, they’re more likely to rely on stereotypes.”

The research project was inspired by a previous study administered by Roksa and Richard Arum, dean of the school of education at the University of California, Irvine. The study, “Limited Learning on College Campuses,” published by the University of Chicago in 2011, found that students – particularly those of African-American descent – were gaining less skill in critical thinking, complex reasoning and writing in college.