Diversity and Disconnection: Does an Online Setting Affect Student’s Understanding of Privilege, Oppression, and White Guilt?


Should educators teach diversity courses in online formats? Courses covering sexism, racism, ethnocentrism, or homophobia are increasingly part of the curriculum requirements for college students. This study compares student surveys from six sections of the author’s introductory Diversity in Politics course; three of these sections are taught asynchronously online, and three are taught in a face-to-face setting. Results reveal no difference between online and face-to-face students’ understandings of privilege and oppression, sense of belonging, or white guilt. However, although all Republican students increased their understanding of privilege and oppression from this course, Republican students uniquely entered the course with less knowledge of oppression and experienced increased growth compared to their online counterparts. The importance of partisanship suggests a more student-centered approach can be valuable in determining the transmissibility of online diversity courses and provides evidence for a successful model for political science diversity courses in online and in-person spaces.



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