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ERIC Number: ED530814
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 241
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1094-3125-4
Peering through the Kaleidoscope: An Examination of Tufts University's New Approach to Undergraduate Admissions and Affirmative Action
Vultaggio, Julie A.
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Pennsylvania
Over the past several decades, affirmative action has become a widely-debated issue in higher education. According to research, race-sensitive admissions policies engender significant advantages for students of all racial backgrounds, yet critics claim that these benefits are matched by significant costs--particularly in terms of minority student success. Thus, this study examined Tufts University's "Kaleidoscope project," an enhanced race-sensitive admissions process, to understand how its implementation has affected admissions officers' experiences recruiting and selecting candidates as well as their ability to make decisions on applicants with below-average academic profiles--a group that often includes underrepresented minority students. Data for this study were collected using case study methodology and evaluated with meaning field, reconstructive horizon, and content analyses. This research yielded several findings that offer important contributions to the literature as well as policy and practice. For instance, there were many findings about the logistical aspects of Kaleidoscope that may be valuable to other institutions seeking to implement a similar project. In addition, participants reported that the project provided a "common language" among the admissions staff, inspired more "interesting" essay responses from applicants compared to their Common Application essays, gave the officers "confidence" in their decisions to admit students with below-average academic profiles, and provided more access to applicants with below-average standardized test scores. However, participants also asserted that they do not admit students who cannot "handle the work" at Tufts, regardless of their racial background--which challenges critics' concerns that affirmative action inhibits minority student success at selective institutions. Participants also offered valuable insight about the professional advantages and disadvantages of employing affirmative action. The results of this study add a crucial dimension to existing higher education literature by including the perspectives of undergraduate admissions officers, whose voices are noticeably absent from extant research (Laird, 2005). In addition, this study has shown that it is possible to design a race-sensitive admissions process that addresses the criticisms of affirmative action while maintaining the policy's benefits as cited in the literature. Thus, findings from this research not only enhance the existing literature, but can also inform policy and practice at institutions nationwide. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A