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ERIC Number: EJ999736
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Apr
Pages: 2
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 12
ISSN: ISSN-0013-189X
Post-"Fisher": The Unfinished Research Agenda on Student Diversity in Higher Education
Chang, Mitchell James
Educational Researcher, v42 n3 p172-173 Apr 2013
In a symposium at the 2012 National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education annual conference, Claremont Graduate University Professor Daryl G. Smith, a pioneer in the study of diversity in postsecondary educational contexts, critiqued the disproportionate framing of diversity-related research around past, present, and future U.S. Supreme Court cases. She rightly argued that such a narrow orientation, though critical for shaping access to highly selective institutions, has overlooked a wider range of issues that continually affect student bodies, irrespective of Court rulings. Now that AERA and other scholarly groups have weighed in on the most recent affirmative action case to reach the Supreme Court, it is time to refocus the body of research on diversity in higher education. One of the fundamental principles in higher education research is what is referred to as an ecological perspective, which posits that there are tight interconnections between individual change, institutional change, and social change. Hurtado, Milem, Clayton-Pedersen, and Allen (1998) applied this ecological perspective more specifically to understanding campus diversity, offering a more nuanced and contextual understanding of the relationship between racial diversity and educational benefits. Although the research is clear on "if" diversity contributes to educational benefits, one is only beginning to uncover "how" or "which" processes and conditions promote those benefits. Ironically, the potential of improving this understanding has been limited in several ways by a strong orientation toward informing decisions on pending court cases. Although the imperative for advancing scholarship on the educational benefits of diversity in higher education may have begun with key U.S. Supreme Court cases, this imperative should not be dictated solely by legal deliberations. Questions surrounding diversity have produced a rigorous and systematic body of research that extends beyond informing Court decisions. Shifting one's gaze more squarely on broader practice and more sophisticated questions stands to make the existing body of research more relevant to a wider range of institutions that are undergoing significant demographic shifts. This orientation will also force researchers to account for and pursue the many overlooked areas and approaches that can inform the existing literature base. If one overarching goal of this line of inquiry is to improve educational opportunities and subsequently how education is more broadly delivered for a wider range of students on different types of institutions, then there is indeed unfinished business that will still be highly relevant for educational researchers regardless of how the Court rules in future cases.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Bakke v Regents of University of California; Hopwood v Texas