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College impact on civic attitudes of Asian American and White undergraduate students: A comparative study

Chiaki Kotori, University of Massachusetts Amherst


The purpose of this study was to examine the influence of college experiences on Asian American college students' civic development at two public institutions in comparison with those of White students by utilizing longitudinal data from the Diverse Democracy Project. Students' democratic orientation was measured by six related scales including social justice orientation, acceptance of conflict in democracy, acceptance of multiple perspectives, self-efficacy for social change, social leadership abilities, and pluralistic orientation. The study first compared the level of democratic orientation between Asian American students and White students using Multivariate Analysis of Variance (MANOVA) prior to college (Summer/Fall 2000) and at the end of their sophomore year (Fall 2002) to determine whether there was any difference between the two groups at each point. In order to assess how each group of students changed over the two years in their democratic orientation, the repeated measures MANOVA was conducted. The results of the MANOVA indicated that White students were likely to exhibit a greater level of civic outcomes overall than Asian Americans at each time of measurement. The repeated measures MANOVA suggested that (1) both groups of students fared higher in their acceptance of multiple perspectives at the end of their second year, and (2) while White students increased their social justice orientation, Asian American students did not change in this orientation. Second, two types of hierarchical regression analyses were performed to investigate the influence of college experiences on students' civic development and to determine how students' entry characteristics, high school experiences, and college experience each accounted for the variance that predicted the outcome variables at the end of the sophomore year separately for Asian American and White students. The first model used the democratic orientation measured at the end of sophomore year as the dependent variable to understand the influence of college experiences on where students stood. The second model used the change between the pre-measurement and post-measurement of the democratic orientation as the dependent variable to determine the magnitude of college experiences on how much students changed. The results of regression analysis indicated that while college experiences were positively associated with White students' six civic outcomes, they had influence only on two of the outcome variable for Asian American students. The dissertation aimed to contribute to the body of literature in the field by supplying empirical evidence as well as by proposing policy implications.

Subject Area

Minority & ethnic groups|Sociology|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Kotori, Chiaki, "College impact on civic attitudes of Asian American and White undergraduate students: A comparative study" (2008). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3315512.