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Inquiry Goals/Questions:
  • What are the ways in which diversity topics are addressed within curricular offerings currently available at KSU?
  • Which diversity-related topics do not receive substantial coverage within the curriculum at this time?
  • Which diversity-related topics are being addressed in faculty members’ scholarship and creative activities?
  • Which diversity-related topics do not receive substantial attention through scholarship and creative activities at this time

Research Methods:

While a previous diversity group had prepared a preliminary course title analysis, the team decided that a list of course titles that suggest diversity topic coverage was limiting for several reasons. First, faculty members have the freedom and flexibility to modify the specific topics covered in their individual courses. Second, the course titles of many courses do not specify whether or to what extent diversity topics are covered in the course. Lastly, a list of course titles does not provide the desired data regarding variability across instructors and other factors that may influence course topic coverage. For these reasons, the committee decided to directly request information regarding diversity in the curriculum from KSU faculty members.

The team also decided to solicit information directly from faculty members regarding research and creative activities that address diversity topics. This decision was made in order to collect data regarding both completed works and works in development. Additionally, the team conducted interviews with the deans of the seven colleges on the KSU campus in order to solicit information and the perspectives of the deans regarding curriculum and scholarship addressing diversity. In addition, the team collected information from peer and aspirant institutions about their curricular offerings.

The “Diversity Inventory” of faculty members became a primary focus of the team’s work. The inventory combined information directly reported by the faculty on diversity in the curriculum and in research and creative activities. The overall response rate was an impressive 59.8% (392) of all KSU faculty. A key aim of the inventory was to establish benchmark data around course offerings and faculty scholarship/creative activities. Specific research questions associated with the Diversity Inventory were as follows:

  1. What percentage of faculty includes coverage of diversity topics in their courses?
  2. Which courses in the KSU curriculum address the diversity topics included in the KSU diversity statement and definition?
  3. How many courses in the KSU curriculum address the diversity topics included in the KSU diversity statement and definition?
  4. Are all of the diversity topics in the KSU diversity statement and definition covered in the curriculum?
  5. Do the general education requirements of a KSU degree include appropriate coverage of diversity topics?
  6. Does variability between professors impact the level of coverage of diversity topics in specific courses?
  7. Do tenure and rank impact the inclusion of diversity topics in faculty scholarship?
  8. What percentage of faculty includes coverage of diversity topics in their scholarship?
  9. Are all of the diversity topics in the KSU diversity statement and definition addressed in current faculty scholarship?
  10. What percentage of faculty includes coverage of diversity topics in their courses?
  11. Which courses in the KSU curriculum address the diversity topics included in the KSU diversity statement and definition?
  12. How many courses in the KSU curriculum address the diversity topics included in the KSU diversity statement and definition?
  13. Are all of the diversity topics in the KSU diversity statement and definition covered in the curriculum?
  14. Do the general education requirements of a KSU degree include appropriate coverage of diversity topics?
  15. Does variability between professors impact the level of coverage of diversity topics in specific courses?
  16. Do tenure and rank impact the inclusion of diversity topics in faculty scholarship?
  17. What percentage of faculty includes coverage of diversity topics in their scholarship?
  18. Are all of the diversity topics in the KSU diversity statement and definition addressed in current faculty scholarship?

Based on team discussion and pilot testing feedback, the inventory asked for information regarding “significant course coverage” of diversity topics. For the purposes of the inventory, significant course coverage was defined as greater than or equal to 25% of the total course coverage. Seven inventories (one per college) were developed for distribution utilizing web-based survey software. The inventory for each college included all courses taught by the college loaded into drop-down lists for selection by the responding faculty member. The inventory was distributed to all faculty members in late April of 2007. Faculty members were requested to complete the inventory no later than May 14, 2007. Three hundred ninety-two KSU faculty members completed the inventory, which represents approximately 59.8% of the teaching faculty. (For a more detailed breakdown of participation—e.g., around rank and college affiliation—please contact Professor Ed Chan for a copy of the full report on the inventory.)

To set KSU’s data in meaningful comparative context, team members reviewed information on curriculum at several institutions which have become known for the strength of their curriculum around diversity at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. For this component of a mixed-method approach, team members analyzed catalogs and other sources from schools with diversity initiatives in both undergraduate and graduate education and formal programs to encourage and support diversity research. The team gathered curricular information about schools which have a diversity requirement in the curriculum, but also a number of schools without such a requirement.

An interview with the various deans of the colleges was designed to supplement data gleaned from the inventory of faculty teaching and scholarship and the review of comparator institutions. Four of seven deans responded to the questions listed below:

  1. How adequate is the current curriculum and scholarship for educating all students for a pluralistic society and world in terms of availability (of courses and activities), experience (students’ course-taking patterns), and learning (impact on the individual student)?
  2. What teaching and learning strategies serve this purpose?
  3. How diverse is the faculty, and what difference does this make within departments and the classroom?
  4. How effective are efforts to deepen faculty engagement with new scholarship related to diversity within and among the disciplines?
  5. What initiatives has your college taken in supporting multicultural curriculum efforts?
  6. What research and teaching in your college has advanced the University’s diversity agenda?
  7. How is diversity integrated into the curriculum of your college?
  8. Which strategies for developing a curriculum that fosters intercultural and international competencies have been most successful? Which have been least successful? Which could be termed “best practices”? (Best Practices are processes, programs, and procedures that most successfully lead to the unit’s ability to reach the University’s diversity goals and can be validated through measurable outcomes.)
  9. What measures of success have you identified to gauge your progress in this area? Include data demonstrating outcomes.

Results:

One objective of the KSU Diversity Inventory was to collect and analyze data regarding the current state of diversity in course offerings and in faculty research and scholarship. The topic emerging from the data as receiving the most curricular coverage was color/ethnicity/race. A cluster of topics (family structure, geographic region, and socioeconomic status) followed with relatively high coverage, comparatively. The topics in KSU’s diversity definition which emerged as receiving the lowest course coverage were religion, ability/exceptionality, and sexual orientation, with sexual orientation being the lowest of all categories.

On the inventory, faculty respondents indicate that they are engaged in 2,978 scholarship and/or creative projects around diversity topics, ranging across all categories included in KSU’s diversity statement. In relatively close parallel to diversity coverage in the curriculum, the three most active diversity categories for research and creative activity are “Color, Ethnicity and/or Race” (615 responses, 20.7%), “Geographic Region and/or Language” (486 responses, 16.3%), and “Family Structure/Responsibility or Gender” (410 responses, 13.8%). The least frequently appearing categories also closely match diversity in the curriculum: “Religion” (191 responses, 6.4%) and “Sexual Orientation and Identity” (187 responses, 6.3%).

Findings associated with close analysis of the data included the following observations: 1) Diversity coverage in the KSU curriculum was not guaranteed to reach all students; 2) The greatest percentage and number of diversity courses were in the Colleges of Education and Humanities and Social Sciences; 3) Students may cover diversity topics in multiple courses, but:

  • Not all diversity dimensions were being addressed with equal force;
  • Courses were not delivered consistently by different instructors;
  • Initial data provided no assessment of diversity content.

Around both course coverage and scholarship/creative activities, the team recognized that the data could be skewed by over-reporting. Thus, one possible next step would be to assess the depth of diversity coverage in a sample of these courses and also to determine whether different sections of the same course include similar levels of coverage. In addition, it would be important, long-term, to examine where students encounter these diversity courses (in the General Education core, in the major, or both). Additionally, degree requirements should be examined to determine whether students could receive a degree from KSU without taking any courses with significant diversity coverage.

The responses of the four academic deans who completed the interviews mirrored the inventory in some respects but not in others. Several deans reported on initiatives put in place to address “global learning” and internationalization, in line with KSU’s Quality Enhancement Plan on Global Learning for Engaged Citizenship, designed as part of SACS accreditation. In terms of curricular and scholarship foci as perceived from the deans’ standpoints, race and ethnicity was a prominent theme, with gender coming in second, and religion third (with this ranking of religion being a notable mis-match with the inventory’s results). Initiatives related to social class, sexual orientation, and age seemed minimal based on the interviews. All college deans who were interviewed reported that they were making efforts to hire and retain minority faculty, but pointed out that they are not always successful due to budget constraints and limited hiring pools.

Recommendations Made:

  • Fund a teaching award linked to diversity in the curriculum.
  • Fund an award to promote scholarship focused on diversity.
  • Consider instituting a diversity requirement in the general education curriculum, including a focus on both global and domestic diversity.
  • Increase efforts to hire faculty from under-represented groups, and make the processes behind such efforts public, transparent, and accessible.
  • Include a diversity module as part of new faculty orientation.
  • Review KSU’s diversity statement to emphasize intersections between the different forms of diversity manifested at KSU.
  • Guard against allowing global diversity, which is already promoted through the QEP, to overshadow or replace issues of domestic diversity.
  • Connect to the local community around issues of diversity.
  • Foster spaces for open dialogue about diversity.
  • Re-administer the inventory of course offerings and scholarship/creative activities at regular intervals.
  • In future assessments, address questions emerging from this first-stage research on Education and Scholarship:

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    • How is KSU's curriculum/scholarship reflective of its diversity mission?
    • What forms of diversity need more attention in the curriculum/scholarship based on results from the inventory?
    • Are diversity topics adequately addressed in general education and core curriculum courses that impact all students?
    • What successful teaching strategies do faculty use to teach diversity topics?
    • How is diversity learning assessed?
    • How do students perceive/experience the diversity content delivered in courses?