research and assessment

The Impact of Awareness through Performance on Students’ Perceptions of Equity and Social Justice Issues - Spring 2008 (Jill Hayes)
Awareness through Performance (ATP) is a production created by a group of diverse University of Wisconsin La Crosse (UW-L) students for the campus community that brings together both upbeat and serious scenes that encourage audience members to acknowledge the dignity and worth of all people.  This study’s purpose was to test the efficacy of ATP as a diversity education tool. A random sample of 1,000 UW-L undergraduate students was taken and a quantitative survey was administered via email.  A total of 170 participants completed the survey, an adequate number to represent UW-L’s undergraduate population. The study examined survey participants’ beliefs about diversity and social justice issues, namely racism, sexism, classism, ableism, and heterosexism, and the relationship of those attitudes to whether or not they have attended ATP.  Participants were asked to rate their level of agreement in regard to each specific demographic to the following statements: discrimination is a rare and isolated situation; hard work leads to success; minority populations do not have the same opportunities; and social justice issues are a serious problem.  It was hypothesized that respondents who attended ATP would have a better understanding of diversity issues compared to those who have not attended ATP.  Findings of the study, using correlation and regression analyses, support this hypothesis, thereby suggesting that ATP is an effective diversity education teaching/learning tool.

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Evaluation of Awareness through Performance’s Impact on Students’ Awareness - Spring 2007 (Mark Malisa & Beth Hartung)
The study's aim was to inquire into how University Students’ current professional and personal self-concepts and living practices relate to their understanding of power and privilege before, and after exposure to Awareness through Performance. Our findings leave us optimistic that progress is being made and that exposure to issues of power and privilege through Awareness through Performance enhance students’ understanding of the two. This study also considers the level of students’ understanding of power and privilege, and compares that with the level of understanding by students who did not attend Awareness through Performance. The depth of understanding is based on the responses that students submitted voluntarily. While Awareness through Performance  is one of  the campus-wide resources for teaching students about the relationship between power and privilege, the research highlights that educators need to carefully consider the strategies they use to develop and gauge students’ understanding of power and privilege. The study examined the type of things/situations that students associated with power and privilege. It was predicted that Awareness through Performance would change the quality and quantity of students’ understanding of power and privilege. This hypothesis was supported by the results from both quantitative and qualitative analyses. The implications of the findings are discussed in relation to existing theory and suggestions for subsequent research and professional practice are made.

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