A TALE OF TWO GROUPS: DIFFERENCES BETWEEN MINORITY STUDENTS AND NON-MINORITY STUDENTS IN THEIR PREDISPOSITION TO AND ENGAGEMENT WITH DIVERSE PEERS AT A PREDOMINANTLY WHITE INSTITUTION
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The purpose of this study was to examine the extent to which minority students and non-minority students differ in their predispositions to engage in campus-based diversity activities upon entering college and engagement with diverse college peers during college. These ethnicity-based interactional differences were examined under a revised version of the Transition to College Model (Locks et al., 2008). The Diverse College Student Engagement Model accounts for the joint influence of student pre-college characteristics along with collegiate experiences, in shaping engagement with racially diverse peers at a predominantly White college.
Using Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) and Latent Means Modeling (LMM), this dissertation examined direct and indirect effects of factors that influence engagement with diverse students in college. Findings indicated that engagement with diverse peers does not take place in a vacuum; conditions and mechanisms that facilitate engagement also matter. Several pre-college variables and college variables were shown to influence predisposition to engage in diversity-related activities and engagement among diverse peers in college. Findings from testing the proposed model indicate that minority students were significantly higher in the latent factor Predisposition to Engage when entering college; however, no significant differences were found in the latent factor Engagement after the sophomore year of college. The differences appear to have been attenuated by some of the campus mechanisms the University of Maryland has in place to foster engagement among diverse students.