Validation and Examination of the Educational Benefits of Informal Interactional Diversity Using a National Sample of Incoming Black Law Students Public Deposited

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  • March 22, 2019
  • Upton, Rachel Dyane
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience
  • This dissertation research is comprised of two studies aimed at exploring the conceptual meaning, measurement properties, and the influence of informal interactional diversity (IID) on Black undergraduates. Specifically, Study 1 used a volunteer sample and a national sample of Black college students entering their first year of law school to investigate the factor structure of IID and to determine whether measurement equivalence exists for Blacks who attend undergraduate historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) or undergraduate traditionally White institutions (TWIs). In Study 2, exploratory conceptual models were utilized to assess within-group heterogeneity among Black students with respect to the means with which IID and perceptions of racial discrimination were associated with students' self-reported academic engagement and beliefs regarding the educational benefits of diversity. Exploratory models were also used in Study 2 to assess whether IID mediated and moderated the impact of racial discrimination on students' academic engagement and diversity-related beliefs. Data were drawn from a volunteer sample and from the Educational Diversity Project, which is a national, longitudinal, and multi-method research study of law school students. In the first study, results from exploratory factor analysis and multilevel confirmatory factor analysis models indicated that contrary to prediction, only four out of six items derived from prior studies used to investigate the academic advantages of IID had statistically significant factor loadings. Results from multiple group multilevel CFA models also revealed that partial measurement equivalence was established among former HBCU and TWI students. Overall, findings suggested that measures of IID examined in previous studies may not have the same factor structure or conceptual meaning for Black undergraduates, and that further research is needed to generate improved measures of IID for Blacks collegians and students from other racial groups. In Study 2, results showed that as predicted, a revised measure of IID was positively associated with students' reported level of academic engagement and positive diversity beliefs, above and beyond perceptions of racial discrimination. Contrary to predictions, findings also revealed indirect relationships between perceptions of racial discrimination and the two study outcomes through IID, whereby students with discriminatory experiences reported high levels of IID, which in turn, were associated with enhanced engagement and beliefs in favor of diversity.
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  • In Copyright
  • Panter, Abigail
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Graduation year
  • 2012

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