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Development Of A Diversity Comfort Inventory For Engineering Students

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Knowing Students: Diversity & Retention

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.411.1 - 8.411.12



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Paper Authors

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John Dantzler

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Kevin Whitaker

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Jim Richardson

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session Number 1430

Development Of A Diversity Comfort Inventory for Engineering Students

John Dantzler, James Richardson, Kevin Whitaker The University of Alabama Tuscaloosa, AL 35487


One of the goals of a new freshman engineering program at the University of Alabama was to increase the value of diversity among students. The Team Identification Comfort Level Inventory (TICLE) was developed to assess an engineering student’s comfort with serving on diverse engineering related teams in contrast with the student’s comfort level with serving on teams of mostly white, males. The TICLE was given to 399 engineering students for validation. The TICLE displayed a high level of reliability with a Cronbach alpha reliability coefficient of .89, and strong evidence of validity through factor analysis. Results indicated that while there was no statistical difference between gender-based matched pair teams; there were differences in comfort level ratings on race-based teams. White males and white females showed a significant preference for non-diverse teams, while non-white males and females showed a significant preference for diverse teams. Based on the psychometric analyses and initial analyses of group differences, the TICLE shows promise as a diversity diagnostic tool for engineering educators.


During the past decade, higher education programs have placed a premium on attracting and retaining a diverse student body. Recently, this emphasis on maintaining diversity has been extended to include an emphasis on diversity awareness 1,2,3. As a programmatic goal, increasing diversity awareness among students can be difficult to evaluate adequately. Measures that explore a students’ understanding of the benefits of diversity are complicated by social, historical, and psychological influencers.

Students of color and female students who experience climates of intolerance or discomfort are at risk in a number of ways. Such environments can negatively affect adjustment, damage cognitive and affective development, and result in low self-efficacy expectations4,5. A key in reducing the marginalization of minority students and women on college campuses seems to reside in the active examination of racism and sexism by all students. Many studies have examined the effect of liberal arts education alone on students’ attitudes with regard to diversity. Liberal arts education has been associated with a greater regard for civil rights and increased acceptance of issues related to racial tolerance6,7,8,9,10. Similarly, students who progress through undergraduate education in general have been shown to adopt less conservative and traditional social views, and gain more liberal ones11,12.

In contrast, Henderson-King and Kaleta13 have shown that students who are not exposed

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Dantzler, J., & Whitaker, K., & Richardson, J. (2003, June), Development Of A Diversity Comfort Inventory For Engineering Students Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--12107

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