Campus Climate Experiences Associated with Ethnicity in a College of Health Sciences

Marguerite C. Carver, Sunddip Panesar-Aguilar, Michelle McCraney, Jamie Ball, Chris Cale


The demand for various healthcare professionals is expected to increase along with the diversification of patient populations. Job security is promising in the future of healthcare. Still, less than 50% of college students persist through the STEM education necessary for professional degree programs, with higher attrition rates seen with minority students. The problem is the disproportionate ethnic representation in academic programs that precipitates the consequentially low distribution of minorities in clinical practice and higher education. Inadequate representation poses fewer opportunities for an initial sense of similarity for minority students, often needed for motivation during student-to-faculty interactions. The research study measured differences between ethnic minority and non-minority student perceptions of their academic climate through a quasi-experimental quantitative design. The dependent variables included a sense of belonging, academic and interpersonal validation. Likert scale data was collected to analyze total summed scores between participant groups. Question items from the Diverse Learning Environment Survey were extracted and used as the instrument. The participant group consisted of students from a Division II institution enrolled in an anatomy and physiology course. Data analysis consisted of independent t-tests and Mann Whitney-U testing. Statistically significant differences were found in the sense of belongingness between groups, with ethnic minority students scoring significantly lower. This study's findings help inform educators and clinicians about the needs of minority populations in efforts to retain students and diversify the same force that is assumed to be all-inclusive in clinical practice.

Keywords:Academic climate, minority representation in health care education, student retention, mentorship, cultural competence

DOI: 10.7176/RHSS/13-14-01

Publication date:August 31st 2023


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