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Active Diversity Interaction: Making Choices

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Innovatiive Methods to Teach Engineering to URMs

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.127.1 - 25.127.15



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Paper Authors


Bette Grauer Kansas State University


LaVerne Bitsie-Baldwin Kansas State University

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Director, Multicultural Engineering program

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Emily Wilcox Kansas State University

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Retention Program Coordinator

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Active Diversity Interaction: Making Growth Choices Education research has shown that growth choices and diversity interactions in anacademic setting support physical and psychological health, cognitive growth, and academicachievement. This paper describes an activity created to encourage interaction between minorityand majority student groups in engineering. The activity promotes interaction between diversegroups as a growth choice that benefits all students. Multicultural engineering program advocates at a medium sized predominantly whiteinstitution have developed an effective recruitment and retention program for underrepresentedminority engineering students. This program introduces minority students to engineering, givesthem a strong academic start, and provides support and mentoring throughout their academicexperience. As an extension of the multicultural engineering program, the directors have createdan activity designed to increase communication and interaction between multiculturalengineering students and the majority white engineering student population. This activity,“Making Choices” is presented to new student orientation classes within the differentengineering disciplines to encourage students to seek out and choose to interact with studentsoutside the groups in which they normally network. The presenters describe research that has shown advantages gained from choosingdiversity interactions in an academic setting, including physical and mental health, and cognitivegrowth. During the activity, students form collaborative groups and discuss (1) underrepresentedpopulations in engineering, (2) the need for diversity in engineering, (3) interactionopportunities, and (4) the benefits of diversity to all students. After the discussion, the studentscreate graphs of the number of weekly interactions they have with persons of representativegroups in the college of engineering. The presenters explain that for most students the graphswill contain high peaks showing that they have large numbers of interactions with just a fewgroups and small numbers of interactions with the rest of the groups. However, in the idealengineering environment, the graph should be a flat line, showing uniform numbers ofinteractions with all groups. Participant surveys after the activity measure the affectiveresponses of the participants. Results have indicated affective responses tend to be at the highvaluing level of the affective domain, indicating most students have a stable internalized interestin diversity interactions and consider the activity to have value.

Grauer, B., & Bitsie-Baldwin, L., & Wilcox, E. (2012, June), Active Diversity Interaction: Making Choices Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--20887

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