AHE TIG Week: The Importance and Value of Conducting an Assessment that Centers Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion within Higher Education by Chad Kee

I am Chad Kee, CEO and Founder of WhitworthKee Consulting and Chair of the Assessment in Higher Education TIG. I started WhitworthKee Consulting because of my personal experiences as a Black man attending a predominantly white institution. While attending the institution, I experienced academic, personal, and financial challenges. I was unaware at the time that I was navigating hidden and overt forms of exclusion, discrimination, invisibility, and marginalization as I worked intently to achieve the goal of graduating with a bachelor’s degree and making my family proud as a first-generation college student.

The systems of oppression working against me became ever clearer as I continued my educational career in sociology and higher education and found the language to name and understand the challenges I had experienced as an undergraduate. One of the reasons, from a historical perspective, is that higher education rooted in racism and White supremacy, initially allowing access only to wealthy White men and excluding women and those who identify or racialized as non-White. As we examine acceptance, persistence, and completion rates of racial and ethnic minoritized groups in comparison to those who identify as White, the education divide remains and warrants attention using assessments to understand the experiences and perceptions of students. It is important to acknowledge the diverse representation on college campuses beyond race and ethnicity as well as the intersection of identities that presents unique lived experiences that must be considered.

Due to the historical origin of higher education and the current educational gaps across groups, conducting an assessment that centers diversity, equity, and inclusion is extremely important. Assessments that employ quantitative and qualitative methods allow for a comprehensive understanding of the experiences and perceptions of members of the community, including students, staff, and faculty.

Outcomes and findings from a culturally responsive diversity, equity, and inclusion assessment can reveal multiple opportunities to counter the systemic forms of discrimination in sustainable and meaningful ways while creating an inclusive and welcoming environment for all.

Lessons Learned

Example findings from past assessments include: 

  • Opportunities for professional development to advance student, staff, and faculty readiness to engage in difficult conversations related to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Review of existing policies and practices that reinforce discriminatory practices.
  • A need to improve accessibility and access throughout campus spaces and buildings.
  • Revealing faculty needs to advance cultural competency and capability to center culture in their course design and learning activities.
  • Opportunities to dismantle campus symbols such as statues and monuments and names of building that reflect historically racist practices.
  • A need to increase faculty and staff representation across diverse identities that will expand diverse perspectives as well as positively impact student retention and completion rates.
  • Examine and counter inequitable practices throughout the promotion and tenure processes.

As a result, when findings are intentionally addressed, institutions will begin to experience and witness an increase in persistence and completion rates among ALL students as well as increased retention among staff and faculty. All of which reinforces the importance and value of assessment in higher education.

The American Evaluation Association is hosting Assessment in Higher Education TIG Week. The contributions all this week to AEA365 come from AHE TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this AEA365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the AEA365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an AEA365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to AEA365@eval.org. AEA365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators. The views and opinions expressed on the AEA365 blog are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the American Evaluation Association, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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