Changes in college students’ awareness, empathy, and openness after multiple diversity courses

Michael J. McClellan, Yoshie Nakai, Crystal D. Neufeld, Randa R. Remer, Alexandra M. Minieri, Kristin M. Miserocchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Diversity education has become an essential part of undergraduate academic courses across the U.S. as universities seek to better prepare students for participation in an increasingly diverse society. The results of three studies examining the impact of diversity course participation on college students’ awareness of privilege and oppression, openness to diversity, and ethnocultural empathy are presented. The results were mixed across the three studies. Study 1 compared a broad assortment of diversity vs. non-diversity courses at three universities and found that diversity course participation led to more awareness and empathy. Study 2 results showed no significant improvement in awareness, openness, and empathy for students who had self-selected into a diversity-oriented academic major and noted significantly higher scores in openness for students who had not self-selected into a diversity-oriented program. Study 3 examined the impact of two diversity courses on a group of undergraduates over consecutive fall semesters and found significantly higher scores on awareness and openness, but no impact on empathy. These collective results suggest that diversity course participation generally leads to higher awareness, openness, and empathy, but these gains are not automatic. Study 3 results suggest that participation in multiple diversity courses may enhance student outcomes. Recommendations for future researchers and educators are provided.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)809-830
Number of pages22
JournalNorth American Journal of Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:


  • Awareness
  • Diversity
  • Diversity education
  • Diversity training
  • Empathy
  • Openness
  • Oppression
  • Privilege

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Psychology


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