Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
The present study was a qualitative inquiry into the attitudes and needs of faculty in higher education regarding diversity and inclusion training. Faculty are more likely to hold bias against students of marginalized identities (Tinto, 1975; Moss-Racusin et. al, 2012; Phelan et. al, 2017). This bias can often create discrimination and disparate outcomes for marginalized students (Okahana et. al, 2016). However, few opportunities are provided for faculty to develop competence in working with students of marginalized identities (Sue & Constantine, 2007). Diversity and inclusion training has become widely popular in organizations as a solution to bias and discrimination; however, it has been criticized as ineffective and unhelpful in targeting unique challenges of professions such as academic (Bezhrukova et. al, 2012). Participants in this study were recruited from a mid-size Midwestern university through direct email solicitation. Experiences with diversity, inclusion, and training were assessed through a short answer survey. Participants were asked to share their personal and professional experiences with diversity, inclusion, and training, as well as their needs from future diversity and inclusion training. A Grounded Theory approach was used to analyze the data. The emergent themes from this study were categorized into a typology of faculty based on their attitudes to diversity, inclusion, and training. These typologies encompass faculty attitudes toward diversity and inclusion, attitudes toward training, and how those attitudes impact perspectives on other faculty, administration, students, and future training opportunities. Faculty were categorized into the following types: (a) resistant, (b) apathetic, (c) ambivalent, (d) neoliberal, and (e) advocate. Faculty attitudes on diversity and inclusion ranged from positive to negative. These views impacted how participants viewed diversity and inclusion training, as well as their willingness to engage in future initiatives. Although many participants held positive views to diversity and inclusion training, they also recognized barriers such as the time involved, the philosophies of the training, and other attendees within the training. Participants also largely believed that they were competent in working with diverse students. They recognized challenges such as increasing retention of diverse students, reducing bias, and having challenging conversations on diversity and inclusion issues in the classroom. Participants also expressed varied views of their fellow faculty and administrators. Although some viewed their faculty peers and administrators as supportive and helpful in moving forward diversity and inclusion initiatives, others exhibited negative views toward faculty and administrators. Training recommendations for each faculty type were dependent on their unique attitudes and barriers to training. These findings suggest that faculty have significantly different needs from diversity and inclusion training and would benefit from specific training opportunities rather than broad training.
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