American Sociological Association

Enhancing Student Compositional Diversity in the Sociology Classroom

It is well documented that interaction between diverse students encourages positive learning outcomes. Given this, we examine how to enhance the quantity and quality of student diversity in university classrooms. Drawing on sociological theory linking life experiences with ways of knowing, we investigate how to increase classroom diversity by considering when, where, and how courses are scheduled and delivered. Our focus on structural features of academic scheduling and classroom offerings in relation to compositional diversity is unique, complementing established individual-level approaches for diversity enhancement. Using data from 96 Introduction to Sociology courses offered at the University of British Columbia between 2004 and 2014, we demonstrate that course structure has significant influence on a variety of student diversity measures (age, academic year, student major, country of origin, domestic or international status, and gender). We conclude by discussing ways instructors can employ sociological insights to optimize the pedagogical possibilities and challenges of diverse classrooms.


Lyon, K. A., Guppy, N.





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