An Evaluation of a Diversity Intervention Program at Washington State University
Hate-related incidents are rising on U.S. campuses. Individuals and groups are targeted because of real or perceived affiliation with a minority out-group. Diversity education programs that teach tolerance in developmental stages can improve inter-group relations. (Thomas, 1997). Washington State University's Respect the Differences Campaign (RDC) focuses on using students' interpersonal campus environment to develop attitudinal and psychosocial change around difference. Interactive educational approaches, including discussion, simulation exercises, and game, create more accepting attitudes and behaviors among participants, resulting in decreased prejudice, recognition of gender inequality, and increased tolerance. (Guth, Gervais, Smith, and Fisher, 2000; Schaefer, 1996). Relatively little evaluation of diversity intervention programs has been reported in the literature. Resident advisors at WSU used RDC's 12-week program during the 2001-2002 academic year. Pre- and post-intervention surveys were administered to determine what attitudinal change had occurred as a result of participation. Pre- and post-program data were analyzed by comparing means between groups, which enabled the primary investigator to assess the RDC effectiveness in increasing tolerance of differences among individuals. Results for the Bogardus Social Distance items indicated that students' willingness to engage with Disabled (t=2.144) and Muslim (t=3.19) individuals significantly increased during the twelve-week RDC.
Keywords: Evaluation, Change, Diversity Education, Intervention
Ms Heidi Stanton
Director, Office of Equity and Diversity Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Allies Program , Washington State University