CONTACT: MELVIN O. SHAW
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0010; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: Aug. 25, 1999
Black students' growth in openness to diversity uninhibited
by attendance at HBCUs
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Attendance at Historically Black
Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) does not negatively influence growth in
openness to diversity for black students, according to a study conducted by
two University of Iowa researchers.
Researchers Lamont Flowers, a higher education doctoral
student at the UI's College of Education, and Ernest T. Pascarella, higher
education professor in the college, set out to estimate the unique impact
of college racial composition on black students' openness to diversity during
college. Their findings were published in the July/August issue of the Journal
of College Student Development.
"If racial, cultural and value diversity are destined
to become a central part of American society in the 21st century, then openness
to diversity is an important goal of post-secondary education for all students,"
the researchers wrote about the study, which opens further discussion about
The three-year longitudinal study, which began in
1992, examined various factors such as students' pre-college openness to diversity,
pre-college academic ability, socioeconomic status, and academic motivation,
making its approach different from previous studies. Flowers says the study
is important because previous studies have focused on the educational and
psychological benefits for black students at HBCUs. Little is known about
the influence of college racial composition on black students' social attitudes
such as openness to diversity.
The researchers' findings are contrary to previous
studies that have suggested the more heterogeneous a college campus, the more
open students were to diversity. Flowers says the study has other important
findings: growth in black students' openness to diversity appears to be sensitive
to the perceived racial environment of the institution attended; and peer
influence plays a significant and positive role in engendering growth and
change during black students' college years.
The researchers also found that intercollegiate athletic
participation enhances openness to diversity among black students.
"Intercollegiate athletics may be another area of
campus life where one is likely to interact and work cooperatively with students
of different racial and ethnic backgrounds. The result may be a greater respect
for, and openness to racial or ethnic diversity and the cultural and value
differences that may accompany it," the researchers wrote about the study.
"What this study suggests to student development professionals
is 'Regardless of pre-college factors, the type of institution attended, or
students' academic or non-academic experiences in college, if a black student
perceives a non-discriminatory environment, they are likely to be more open
to diversity,'" Flowers says.
None of the 18 institutions -- which includes two
HBCUs -- participating in the study can be named, Flowers says, adding the
schools are located in the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic states, South, East and West
The analyses are based on 402 black students in the
study's first year; the students' mean age was 22 and was made up of 257 women
and 145 men. In year two, 255 black students with a mean age of 22 made up
of 158 women and 97 men; in year three, 167 black students with a mean age
of 20 made up of 105 women and 62 men.