Media and Communication Ph.D. Dissertations


University Diversity Training Needs Assessment: The Perspectives of African, Latina/o, Asian, Pacific Islander, and Native American Students

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Communication Studies

First Advisor

Lynda Dixon (Advisor)

Second Advisor

Milton Hakel (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Laura Lengel (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Radhika Gajjala (Committee Member)


Communication scholars have acknowledged that racial diversity does not receive adequate examination from organizational communication scholars. This study examined race-related diversity training at a predominantly white Northwest Ohio university from the perspectives of undergraduate African, Latina/o, Asian, Pacific Islander, and Native American (ALANA) students. Research demonstrates that on predominantly white campuses, ALANA students may face unique challenges that may differ from the experiences of their white peers. However, race-related diversity training programs are frequently developed without assessing the needs of ALANA people. This research used open-ended surveys with 127 ALANA students, audiotape recorded interviews with seven ALANA students, and a diversity training manual. Grounded theory was used to develop themes. The manual themes were compared to ALANA-generated themes to assess whether students needs were being met by the current diversity training program. There were three race-related themes that materialized as unmet needs for the participants. The three unmet needs were assistance with coping with the biases of others; the ability to recognize support and develop richer interpersonal relationships; and the obligation to educate others about ALANA people while simultaneously representing all people from their respective ALANA groups. There were two themes that manifested differently in the manual and student data. These themes were examining natural behaviors and actions and making connections with life experiences. In conclusion, the diversity training activities contained in the manual do not fully meet the needs of ALANA students. This dissertation concludes with a discussion of the findings, implications, and future recommendations.