Higher Education Ph.D. Dissertations


Preparing Students to Work in a Globally Diverse World: The Relationship of College Students' Backgrounds and College Experiences to Their Orientation Toward Diversity

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Higher Education Administration

First Advisor

Robert DeBard (Committee Chair)

Second Advisor

William E. Knight (Committee Co-Chair)

Third Advisor

Michael D. Coomes (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Sherlon P. Brown (Committee Member)


This research study describes the set of student pre-college and college characteristics that contribute to or predict students' orientation towards diversity as measured by the four scales of the Miville-Guzman Universality Diversity Scale Short Form (M-GUDS-S) instrument: Diversity of Contact, Relativistic Appreciation, and Overall Attitudes toward Diversity.

Findings from this study were consistent with the literature. First, students who identified as female, first-generation, and non-White, were significantly more likely to have a positive orientation toward diversity. Second, many of the academic and engagement pre-college and college variables were also significant as contributors and predictors of students' orientation towards diversity. In addition to being female, there were two pre-college variables that positively predicted students overall attitude toward diversity; attending a high school that was predominantly White and participating in community service/volunteer work. One pre-college variable, having a high school peer group that was predominantly White, was a negative predictor of students' overall attitude and orientation toward diversity.

Of the five college variables that predicted a student's overall attitude toward diversity, four were positive and one was negative. The variables predicting students' overall positive attitude toward diversity as college students were: (a) a major strength in discussing controversial topics, (b) often interacting with race/ethnicity groups different from one's own, (c) took a diversity course, (d) completing the required cultural diversity general education course at Bowling Green State University. However, students who reported often feeling discomfort around racially diverse peers while in college were predicted to have a more negative orientation toward diversity.

Recommendations for increasing students' positive orientation toward diversity include: Increase or maintain structural or physical diversity of the campus environment; Create multiracial and multiple identity programs and services; Increase secondary and postsecondary school partnerships; Develop and increase pre-college engagement activities; Provide cultural immersion experiences; Develop and increase college engagement activities; Encourage volunteer work and service-learning opportunities; Review and implement diversity courses; and Develop teacher education courses that teach skills around diversity