Assessing the Level of Curriculum and Scholarship Diversity in Higher Education

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

The notion of assessing the depth of curricular diversity is a persistent challenge for institutions of higher education that have an interest in ensuring that their students receive a multifaceted educational experience (Vaughn 2007). Research demonstrates the profound need to ensure an effective evaluation process when or if an institution of higher education embarks on upon assessment of diversity in the curriculum or research activities (Williams 2007). Smith (1999) discusses the importance of diversity in the educational and scholarly roles of institutions of higher learning, and she stresses the importance of assessing the adequacy of an institutions current curriculum and scholarship in educating all students for a pluralistic society and diverse work force.

The purpose of the KSU Diversity Inventory is to collect and analyze data regarding the current state of diversity in course offerings and in faculty research and scholarship. In addition to providing valuable benchmark information regarding the courses and scholarship in the college of business that engage with issues of diversity, the inventory also tests a new framework for universities to assess the state of diversity in the two unique, and arguably most valuable, services provided to the community by academic institutions--those of curriculum offerings and scholarship. This paper reports on both the process and the initial assessment results of an assessment initiative that examines curricular and scholarly efforts to address diversity in the Coles College of Business at KSU.

The importance and difficulty of assessing and revising curricular efforts related to diversity have been the focus of recent research efforts. Kezar and Eckel (2005) note that the most successful campus diversity efforts have included campus leadership support, faculty involvement, and multidisciplinary efforts. The authors also note the importance of supporting individual faculty as well as campus-wide efforts that have the potential to shape the curriculum either directly or indirectly.

The remainder of this paper is organized as follows: the next section reviews the literature related to curriculum and scholarship diversity and discusses the research question. The following section describes the methodology utilized to assess curriculum and scholarship diversity efforts. This is followed by a section that describes the results of the assessment initiative. The final section of the paper discusses the implications and limitations of the research.

LITERATURE REVIEW AND RESEARCH QUESTION

The literature regarding curriculum and scholarship diversity in higher education has primarily focused on the importance of diversity topic coverage in the curriculum and the establishment of curriculum diversity requirements (Kezar and Eckel 2005, Smith and Schonfeld 2000, Williams 2007). Jones (2005) stresses the necessity of restructuring the college curriculum to educate all students for a pluralistic society. While referencing Smith's (1999) model of college and university diversity efforts, Jones continues by stating that existing efforts to improve campus climate, access and success, and intergroup relations at the university level are unlikely to be successful without efforts to include diversity in the curriculum.

Epps (2008) notes that business schools often fail to include thorough coverage of diversity issues in the required curriculum. The author also notes the importance of diversity in corporations, and states that common problems that arise in corporations include failure to address diversity issues or problems that arise, failure to devote significant resources to diversity, and failure to establish an appropriate stance towards diversity from top management. As the workplace environment becomes more diverse, the skill set of managers must often broaden to include establishing professional relationships with employees and customers from differing backgrounds. …