Abstract: August Hoffman - Psychology Dept.

Reducing Hate Crimes on Campus:

Improving Student Perceptions of Ethnic Diversity and Academic Performance
Through Collaborative Group Work

Description of the Proposal:
Recently, the topics of cross cultural interaction, interethnic
assimilation, and ethnic diversity have become important themes for research
in primary and higher education. As our society is becoming increasingly
multiethnic, educators in primary and secondary schools need to become aware
of teaching strategies and techniques that facilitate a "learner friendly"
environment. This has become especially true among campuses and high schools
today where hate crimes are increasing simply based on perceived differences
(ethnic, religious, etc.) among ethnically diverse groups of students. As
student groups in higher education are becoming increasingly multiethnic, it
has become apparent that educators need to develop teaching strategies that
are sensitive to the needs of each group so learning can become enhanced.
The following proposal offers pedagogical information that will facilitate
the elements of collaborative group for educators who work in a variety of
academic disciplines. Courses that may particularly benefit from
collaborative group work include General Education coursework or
cross-cultural studies involving the Humanities. Additionally, this proposal
suggests that small-group, or collaborative learning techniques can play an
important role in not only improving the quality of academic performance
among students, but also improve ethnic interaction by reducing ethnic
stereotypes commonly seen in ethnically diverse learning environments.

Three variables will be explored to determine the effectiveness of
collaborative group work: Prosocial behavior, altruism, and ethnocentrism.
A pre-test assessment of these three variables will be administered to
determine any significant changes in attitudes among the students working in
collaborative groups. Students in the experimental group will then be
administered several collaborative group projects which will group
interaction and communication for successful completion (i.e., 25 points on a
graded project). Group assimilation is considered a vital element for
successful task completion, and probably a major component of ethnocentric
ideology. Thus, each student will be necessarily placed in a vital position
that contributes to the group's overall grade. The control group will be
taught within a standard lecture format, with no group collaboration. A
post-test ANOVA will be conducted in assessing each of the variables, to
determine if any statistical differences exist within the groups taught with
collaborative learning principles. The ramifications of this study are
important in educational systems with increasing student diversity, and
suggestions for future research are offered.