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Wednesday, June 17 • 11:15am - 11:45am
CON01.10 - Student diversity in context: Structural factors enhancing the composition of classrooms and classroom dynamics‏

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Frequent and appropriately structured classroom interactions between students with diverse life experiences have been shown to have positive learning outcomes (Chang, Astin, & Kim, 2004; Denson & Bowman, 2013; Gurin, Dey, Hurtado, & Gurin, 2002; Nelson Laird, 2005). However, factors influencing student composition at the course level (rather than faculty or school level) have remained largely unexplored. To this end we examine organizational factors enhancing classroom diversity. Much sociological thought acknowledges the significance of multiple ways of seeing and knowing, making a systemic analysis of factors influencing classroom diversity particularly relevant for sociological teaching. In this paper we consider student enrollment trends in Introduction to Sociology courses at University of British Columbia from 2004 to 2013 based on student academic year level, degree program, admission average, age, gender, international/domestic status, and citizenship. We examine course composition in relation to course medium (online or face to face), term placement (summer or winter), number of credits (3 or 6) and other relevant characteristics. Our preliminary findings suggest that structural factors alter classroom diversity composition in particular ways and should be taken into account in creating positive learning environments conducive to student enrichment. During the session we will engage participants in a discussion about their own teaching experiences in relation to these findings. By the end of this session, participants will be able to articulate three factors influencing student composition at the course level. 


Chang, M. J., Astin, A. W., & Kim, D. (2004). Cross-racial interaction among undergraduates: Some consequences, causes, and patterns. Research in Higher Education, 45(5), 529‑553.

Denson, N., & Bowman, N. (2013). University diversity and preparation for a global society: the role of diversity in shaping intergroup attitudes and civic outcomes. Studies in Higher Education, 38(4), 555-570. 

Gurin, P., Dey, E., Hurtado, S. & Gurin, G. (2002). Diversity and higher education: Theory and impact on educational outcomes. Harvard Educational Review, 72(3), 330-366.

Nelson Laird, T. F. (2005). College students’ experiences with diversity and their effects on academic self-confidence, social agency, and disposition toward critical thinking. Research in Higher Education, 46(4), 365‑387.


Wednesday June 17, 2015 11:15am - 11:45am PDT
Cypress 2 Room

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