Creative Education, 2010, 2, 93-100
doi:10.4236/ce.2010.12014 Published Online September 2010 (
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. CE
Increasing Positive Perceptions of Diversity for
Religious Conservative Students
Alison Cook, Ronda Roberts Callister
Jon M. Huntsman School of Business Utah State University, Logan, USA
Received January 30th, 2010; revised July 19th, 2010; accepted July 25th, 2010.
Evidence suggests that positive perceptions toward diversity enhance the potential group and organizational benefits
resulting from diversity. Given the make-up of todays organizations, encountering diversity has become the norm ra-
ther than the exception. As such, it is becoming increasingly important to address diversity issues, and take steps to
increase positive perceptions of diversity within the business classroom in order to carry that advantage into the work-
place. Religious conservative students present a unique challenge to diversity education in that they likely hold value-
laden attitudes that lack alignment with diversity principles. This study prescribes a scaffolding approach to increase
positive perceptions of diversity within a classroom comprised predominantly of religious conservative students.
Keywords: Teaching Diversity, Positive Benefits of Diversity, Teaching Methods, Religious Conservative Students
1. Introduction
Diversity is an important and complex issue for organiza-
tions today, presenting both opportunities and challenges
[1]. Though current research has asserted a number of
potential benefits organizations may gain as a result of
diversity [2-5], limitations exist that may inhibit organi-
zations from reaching that potential [6-8]. Recent schol-
arship suggests that positive perceptions of diversity may
enhance the likelihood that diversity benefits will be
achieved by the organization [6-8].
Specifically, both organization- and group-level bene-
fits have been suggested as a result of individuals’ posi-
tive perceptions of diversity [6-8]. Konrad and her col-
leagues (2009) [7] argue that organizational benefits
gained differ depending on your perception of diversity.
If diversity practices are viewed as fulfilling an ethical
and moral obligation only, then the potential benefits will
not be realized. However, if diversity is viewed as a stra-
tegic advantage to the firm, as a value-add for the or-
ganization, the realization of potential benefits is probable.
The argument is that value congruence is essential to
diversity success. If individuals perceive diversity as a
positive attribute to the firm, then value congruence is
more likely to occur. This correlates with Schneider and
Northcraft’s (1999) [8] assertion that by addressing the
dilemmas of individual and managerial participation to-
ward diversity, organizational benefits may be more im-
mediately realized. Through greater positive perceptions
of diversity and understanding of potential benefits, val-
ue congruence will likely be enhanced, and the individual
and managerial dilemmas will be reduced. At the group
level, Ely and Thomas (2001) [6] found that groups with
an integration-and-learning perspective, a perspective
where diversity is positively perceived as a valuable re-
source, were more highly functioning than the other stu-
died groups. All groups were diverse in make-up; the
differences existed in the perceptions held by members
of the groups toward diversity. Positive perceptions re-
sulted in greater productivity.
Given the potential benefit for organizations when
their employees hold positive perceptions about diversity,
and the inevitability of encountering diversity in the
workplace; it is essential that business classes not only
address diversity, but work to increase positive percep-
tions toward it. Research shows that although overt preju-
dicial acts toward others may have decreased, discrimina-
tion perseveres in society today [9,10]. It is suggested that
some people, even though they support egalitarian
principles and believe themselves to not be prejudiced,
hold negative feelings about others [9]. Further, many
only view diversity as a legal or ethical issue [11], yet
given the organizational benefits possible, it is important
that the business classroom works to shift the view of
diversity to be positively perceived as a valuable re-
Increasing Positive Perceptions of Diversity for Religious Conservative Students
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. CE
source rather than simply a legal, ethical, or discrimina-
tory issue.
Our study makes an important contribution by offering
guidelines for increasing positive perceptions of diversity
within a classroom of predominantly religious conserva-
tive students. Diversity education may be especially
challenging with religious conservative students because
the political positions of the religious right are typically
less supportive of the principles of diversity. Scholars
suggest it is difficult to make any real progress when the
students are committed to their beliefs and disagree in
principle with the ideals of diversity education [12,13].
Previous research has recognized the association of reli-
gious denominations and beliefs with conservative atti-
tudes particularly those regarding gender [14] and sexual
orientation [15]. For example, Fundamentalist Protestants
support traditional gender role attitudes using biblical
passages portraying men as leaders and women as fol-
lowers [16-18] and use the bible to argue that homosexu-
ality is a sin.
The United States is a religious country with 83% of
the population reporting they are Christians and only
13% reporting no religion (ABC News, 2007). Defining
religious conservatives is complicated both because of
the large number of denominations in the U.S., almost
1200 by one estimate [19], and because many denomina-
tions include a wide range of beliefs. But it is generally
accepted that Protestant Fundamentalists who believe in
a literal interpretation of the Bible are at the most con-
servative end of the spectrum [18,20]. While white Evan-
gelicals, Baptists and Mormons are less conservative
than Protestant Fundamentalists, they are more conserva-
tive than mainline Protestants [21,22], and can still be
considered religious conservatives. Also, frequent church
attendees tend to have more conservative gender attitudes
even after controlling for denomination (Mason & Lu,
1988) [14]. Moore and Vanneman’s (2003) [18] study
showed that the “Bible Belt” area of the U.S.—including
the south and parts of the Midwest, in addition to Utah—
were the areas with the highest proportions of religious
conservatives, while most other areas of the U.S. have
modest to significant numbers of religious conservatives.
Given the potential benefits of diversity for organizations
and the large number of students that have religious con-
servative backgrounds, it is important that diversity edu-
cation be structured in a way to influence the greatest
number of students.
The college years may be the ideal time to expose reli-
gious conservative students to diverse perspectives and
help them move toward broader perspectives-taking and
increased understanding of differences. This period is
frequently a time that significant social and moral devel-
opment takes place as students become more aware of
the social world in general and their place in it (Rest,
1986) [23]. Similarly, studies of faith development show
that the college years are a common time of transition
into a less literal belief system [24]. The impact of col-
lege education on moral, social and faith development
suggests that these changes may also benefit diversity
education. We may be able to draw on the large body of
research over the last 40 years of studies on moral de-
velopment and moral education for guidance in how to
teach diversity. “Kohlberg’s theory of moral develop-
ment suggests that rather than attempt to indoctrinate or
socialize students, moral education should seek to stimu-
late the natural process of development toward more
mature moral reasoning” [25]. There is evidence to sug-
gest that making moral issues an integral part of the sub-
ject matter by integrating dilemmas and role-taking ex-
periences into the classroom are beneficial, as is being
exposed to exemplars [26].
Education programs designed to stimulate moral
judgment produce modest significant gains, particularly
those programs that emphasize peer discussion of con-
troversial dilemmas [23]. Diversity education is likely to
parallel these findings. Moral development research
suggests that the college classroom may be the ideal time
to educate students about diversity using peer discussion
that encourages broader perspective taking. The chal-
lenge may be to find a way to present material about di-
versity that allows these students to remain open to al-
ternative perspectives. More specifically we examine the
research question—If religious conservative students can
be taught about diversity in a way that does not trigger
strong or defensive reactions based on religious beliefs,
will they show positive change in their attitudes toward
diversity over the course of a semester? It may be that by
finding a way to present material on diversity that allows
engagement without defensiveness, the prospect of atti-
tudinal change will be enhanced.
2. Methods
2.1. Study Participants
Participants in the study were 120 students enrolled at a
public university in a college town in Utah. Two organ-
izational behavior courses with 78 students served as the
treatment group and one human resources course with 42
students served as the control group. As illustrated in the
descriptives table (refer to Table 1), the student body is
composed largely of highly religious and politically con-
servative individuals. Utah is notably conservative as is
continually illustrated by political elections, and it has a
prevailing dominant conservative religion. The average
age in both the treatment and control groups was ap-
proximately 23, and males represented a slightly larger
Increasing Positive Perceptions of Diversity for Religious Conservative Students
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. CE
proportion (56%) of the overall sample.
2.2. Procedure
The two organizational behavior courses were taught by
the same instructor, and the human resources course was
taught by a different instructor. Both instructors were
female and in their 30 s. Other than knowing her class
was serving as a control group for an experiment, the
human resources instructor was not given any other in-
formation. Students in all classes were informed that the
purpose of the study was to gain insight into their atti-
tudes toward diversity. Included components were the
pre-test questionnaire / exercise at the beginning of the
16-week semester and the post-test questionnaire / exer-
cise at the end. IRB approval was acquired for all aspects
of the study and student consent forms were collected.
To lessen the potential of a social desirability bias occur-
ring, all questionnaires were numbered and anonymous
to the instructors. During the pre- and post-tests, students
were asked to complete a “reaction-to-diversity” exercise.
Within the diversity exercise, students were asked to circle
all words that they associate with diversity. The number
of words selected varied by student, and no “appropri-
ate” number was suggested by the instructor. Addition-
ally, religiosity and political conservatism were assessed
by numerous survey items. To account for potential
selection bias between the control and treatment groups,
an independent samples t-test was conducted with the
pretest scores. The results confirmed that no significant
differences existed between the groups at the onset of the
The instructor of the two organizational behavior
classes purposefully structured the course for this ex-
periment using scaffolding strategies. With higher per-
centages of religious conservative students, resistance to
diversity is likely to increase. Specifically, some students
may feel their beliefs are being threatened, and when
individuals feel threatened, they are less likely to be open
to diversity [27]. As such, certain strategies for ap-
proaching the subject may be helpful. In the year prior to
the study, the organizational behavior course instructor
collected journal entries from her students at the
mid-term and conclusion of the class that detailed effec-
tive strategies that were used to aid in their understanding
and acceptance of diversity. These strategies, in turn,
were incorporated into the planned structure for the ex-
amined classes.
The challenge in teaching diversity to religious con-
servative students is to present material that does not
trigger a defensive reaction, but connects on a level that
they can find personal relevance and to engage them in
higher effort cognitions where they will more likely be
influenced. For example, in one of her first years, the
instructor introduced a diversity case at the beginning of
the course that included issues of race, gender, and sexual
orientation. This case triggered strong defensive reac-
tions from a large number of students. This may have
occurred because the topics of gender and sexual orienta-
tion are diversity issues with conflicting religious con-
servative beliefs [15,18]. The following year that par-
ticular case was not introduced until late in the semester
and the diversity case introduced at the beginning of the
class discussed a person’s weight and the potential biases
that person may encounter. Weight, though it still may be
a sensitive topic, is not as emotionally charged, and is
something that students may see as being relevant to
them at some point in their life or relevant to someone
they currently know. Therefore, starting slowly with ma-
terial that is personally relevant and does not contain
issues that are strongly counter-attitudinal may help build
a level of trust within the classroom; and in diversity
education, a climate of trust is essential. The material is
sensitive and students need to feel safe in expressing
their perspective and questioning others’ perspectives.
Scaffolding, though primarily used in K-12 education,
is fitting for diversity education in that its purpose is to
promote student inquiry, assist conceptual learning, ad-
dress misconceptions, and encourage reflective thinking
[28]. It is an approach taken by the instructor or peer that
offers support, as needed, to help the students participate
meaningfully [29]. Instructors must continually assess
what support is needed to achieve the desired result and
provide the appropriate amount at the right time. Scaf-
folding techniques in the examined classes were to pro-
vide students with the conceptual framework, guide the
cognitive processes when needed, and provide strategic
guidance in how to effectively approach the issues
[28-30]. This technique was used in order to shift the
ownership of learning and discovery to the students.
Given the religiosity and political conservatism of the
students examined and the probability of unfavorable
diversity attitudes being present within the group, these
techniques served to aid in student learning.
First, providing a conceptual framework was a neces-
sary scaffolding technique in order to help the students
know what to consider and what to evaluate. The goals
for integrating this material into the course were clear;
the instructor wanted to increase student awareness and
expand student understanding of diversity. Through pre-
vious journal entries, several students noted the impor-
tance of having both the explicit knowledge provided by
the discussion and the tacit knowledge provided by the
applied activities. Thus, the class was structured to in-
corporate both theory and application. The theoretical
frameworks were supported with current research findings
and implications, and the applications were used to aug-
Increasing Positive Perceptions of Diversity for Religious Conservative Students
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. CE
ment the discussions and took the forms of case studies,
simulations, exercises, and group work.
To increase the effectiveness of scaffolds, students
should readily understand how the material relates to
them [29]. Therefore, the second step was to illustrate
why they should care about diversity and to provide them
with concrete ideas as to why it is important. This step
occurred within the first week of class. Research was
introduced that supports the business case for diversity
and the value-in-diversity perspective. A rationale was
provided to the students as to why this is an important
topic that warrants further investigation and study. The
third step connecting this topic to the students was the
discussion of the multi-dimensionality of diversity which
occurred the following week. Specifically, surface and
deep-level diversity were discussed. Surface-level diver-
sity is the easily identified differences such as gender and
race; and deep-level diversity is the less identifiable dif-
ferences such as values and personality. This discussion is
especially important with a group of students that may
not hold favorable attitudes toward diversity. By illus-
trating the broad scope of diversity, a greater sense of
inclusion is created. This broad discussion early in the
semester was introduced to lower the defensiveness of
the students and increase the likelihood that they would
engage in the discussions.
The fourth step focused on guiding the students’ cog-
nitive processes and encouraging the students to become
active participants. After the discussion of the mul-
ti-dimensionality of diversity, a case based on weight (a
non-threatening case) was introduced. With the case in-
troduction, students become engaged in the learning
process and the emphasis shifts to encouraging class
members to share their perspectives. This sharing of
perspectives offers an effective scaffold for class learning.
And as affirmed through previous students’ journal en-
tries, hearing others’ views and thoughts helped in their
awareness and understanding of diversity. This step was
intensified as the semester progressed. Case studies, si-
mulations, and other applied activities became more tar-
geted toward issues of gender, race, and sexual orienta-
tion throughout the semester. As the level of trust in-
creased and the climate of acceptance grew, student
sharing and disclosure became greater.
The last primary component of the class structure was
inter-group contact. Strategic support and motivational
encouragement were the scaffolds provided by the in-
structor if needed, but the primary learning was occurring
within the groups and their interaction. Although the
classes were quite homogeneous, group interactions
facilitated student awareness of their own identity and
that of the other group members. This step was the most
reported component by the students for helping them in
the awareness and understanding of diversity. Teams
were formed at the onset of the class and students were
required to complete an overall course project and pre-
sentation as well as numerous team activities throughout
the semester. This constant group interaction created a
comfort level within the teams that enabled all students
to voice their perspectives within the small group discus-
sions. Often students are not comfortable discussing
some of their views with the entire class, but will share
their perspectives within their team. The primary com-
ponents used to teach diversity in a management class
may not vary greatly between a class with and a class
without a strong religious conservative contingent; how-
ever, teaching diversity to religious conservative students
requires increased attention to subtle details for success
because of the higher risks of triggering negative defen-
sive reactions.
2.3. Measures
Items on the “reaction-to-diversity” exercise were drawn
from De Meuse and Hostager’s (2001) [31] instruments
to measure attitudes toward diversity. Given our purpose
was to examine shifts in positive reactions toward diversity,
we focused on the 35 positive words within the diversity
exercise. The words were randomly placed with the 35
words representing five different variables of positive
reactions. The five positive constructs measured were
emotional reactions, judgments, behavioral reactions,
personal consequences, and organizational outcomes.
Each of the constructs is composed of seven terms. Spe-
cifically, the terms compassionate, enthusiastic, excited,
grateful, happy, hopeful, and proud compose the variable
emotional reactions. The terms composing judgments are
ethical, fair, good, justified, proper, sensible, and useful.
Behavioral reactions consists of collaborate, cooperate,
friendly, listen, participate, support, and understand. The
personal consequences construct includes advancement,
discovery, enrichment, merit, opportunity, rewarding,
and wisdom. And asset, harmony, innovation, profitable,
progress, team-building, and unity compose positive or-
ganizational outcomes. Scores were computed for the
participants by counting the number of words chosen
within each category. The measures were scored on a
scale from zero to seven. For example, if they did not
select any of the words within the given construct, they
were awarded a zero for that measure. If they selected all
seven of the words within the given construct, they were
awarded a seven. The positive attitudes toward diversity
index were created by summing the diversity dimensions
described above and dividing the score by five to remain
on a 0-7 scale. We created this index in order to provide
a comprehensive picture of the students’ overall attitude
toward diversity. The coefficient alpha for the pre-test
Increasing Positive Perceptions of Diversity for Religious Conservative Students
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. CE
index is 0.85 and for the post-test index is 0.89.
Age was entered in all analyses as the actual age, and
gender was coded as 1 for females and 0 for males. We
used three items from Sullivan (2001) [32] which was
based upon the religiosity measure developed by Rohr-
baugh and Jessor (1975) [33] for our religiosity measure.
Representative items are “Religious beliefs are not at all
important in my everyday life” and “I am definitely a
religious person” (1 = strongly disagree, 7 = strongly
agree). Items were aligned so the higher number reported
represents greater religiosity. To create the religiosity
variable, the items were summed and then divided by
three to remain on a 1-7 scale. Coefficient alphas are
0.95 for the pre-test and 0.88 for the post-test. Political
conservatism was measured with 9 items that were based
on Wilson and Patterson’s (1968) [34] scale of conserva-
tism. Specific items were updated using Collins and Hays
(1993) [35] and Henningham (1996) [36]. Representative
items are “I believe in legalized abortion” and “Religions
should allow women clergy” (1 = strongly disagree, 7 =
strongly agree). Items representing conservative and lib-
eral positions were alternated in the scale and items were
aligned so the higher number reported represents greater
political conservatism. To create the political conserva-
tism variable, the items were summed and then divided
by 9 to remain on a 1-7 scale. Coefficient alphas are .86
for the pre-test and post-test.
3. Results
Descriptive statistics and t-test results for the treatment
group and the control group are presented in Table 1.
T-tests were performed to examine differences between
the pre- and post-test positive attitudes of diversity index
score and also to examine differences between the sub-
scale scores of the diversity dimensions composing the
index. Findings indicate that there were indeed signifi-
cant increases in positive perceptions of diversity occur-
ring within the treatment group while no significant
changes were realized in the control group.
Our research question asked if it was possible to in-
crease positive perceptions of diversity for religious
conservative students. This was tested by conducting a
repeated measures general linear model which compared
students’ positive attitudes toward diversity scores by
pre-test versus post-test and by treatment group versus
control group. Results indicate that significant positive
changes in students’ attitudes toward diversity occurred
in the treatment group but not in the control group (refer
to Table 1). Specifically, the overall positive attitudes
toward diversity index showed a significant mean change
(p < 0.01) from the pre- to post-test of 3.26 to 3.58 for
the treatment group, but the mean change for the control
group was non-significant. Findings, though, do suggest
a decreasing trend of positive attitudes toward diversity
for the control group with means reported as 3.34 for the
pre-test and 3.09 for the post-test.
T-test analyses of the individual dimensions affirmed
the findings. The treatment groups’ mean changes sig-
nificantly increased for all dimensions except positive
judgments (a n.s. positive increase) while the control
groups’ mean changes remained non-significant (refer to
Table 1). Specifically, the dimension of emotional reac-
tion showed a significant mean change (p = 0.03) from
the pre- to post-test of 1.92 to 2.31, the dimension of
personal consequences showed a significant mean
change (p = 0.01) from the pre- to post-test of 3.63 to
4.08, the dimension of organizational outcomes showed a
significant mean change (p = 0.09) from the pre- to
post-test of 3.71 to 4.03, and the dimension of behavioral
reactions showed a significant mean change (p = 0.07)
from the pre- to post-test of 3.49 to 3.81. These results
suggest that there was a significantly positive shift in
overall attitudes toward diversity for the treatment group.
4. Discussion
This study makes a contribution by demonstrating that
religious conservative students can be positively influ-
enced by diversity education. Although these students
present a unique challenge to diversity education, the
college classroom has the potential to help students gen-
erate their own perspectives through engaging more
deeply with others’ views. This study also makes a con-
tribution by developing theoretical explanations for why
these improved attitudes develop. We draw on the litera-
tures on moral, social and faith development to show that
college years are a time when students are likely to ex-
perience increases in perspective taking ability
[23,24,37]. Because of the increases in perspective taking
that often occur in college, we suggest that this period
may be an ideal time to introduce diversity to religious
conservative students who may not have had much pre-
vious exposure to either diverse people or ideas.
Group work had the most positive impact on our reli-
gious conservative students’ attitudes toward diversity
which fits well with the moral development findings that
peer discussions have shown a positive impact on in-
creases in perspective taking.
We put forth the following scaffolding strategies that
appear to positively influence students when teaching
1) A climate of trust must be established. This was
accomplished by encouraging all student input, and
being supportive of them through their thought
Increasing Positive Perceptions of Diversity for Religious Conservative Students
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. CE
Table 1. Descriptives and Results.
Treatment Group Control Group
Pre-test Post-test Hypotheses Tests Pre-test Post-test Hypotheses Tests
Variable Mean s.d. Mean s.d.T statisticP = Means.d. Mean s.d. T statisticP =
1) Age 23.383.52 23.38 3.52-- --
23 2.23 23 2.23 -- --
2) Gender 0.46 0.50 0.46 0.50-- --
0.400.500.40 0.50 -- --
3) Religiosity 5.86 1.87 5.89 1.71-- --
6.111.706.00 1.69 -- --
4) Political Conservatism 5.12 1.12 5.00 1.16-- -- 0.98 -- --
5) Positive Attitude to-
ward Diversity Index 3.26 1.65 3.58*** 1.74– 2.76 0.01*** 3.341.453.09 1.56 1.58 n.s.
5a) Positive emotional
reaction to diversity 1.92 2.10 2.31** 2.16– 2.20 0.03** 1.711.831.39 1.70 1.46 n.s.
5b) Positive judgments to
diversity 3.55 1.98 3.69 2.10– 0.73 n.s. 3.491.943.51 1.94 -0.08 n.s.
5c) Positive behavioral
reactions to diversity 3.49 2.15 3.81* 2.15– 1.83 0.07* 3.662.183.37 2.00 1.25 n.s.
5d) Positive personal
consequences to diversity 3.63 2.00 4.08** 2.05– 2.54 0.01** 3.731.913.56 2.40 0.67 n.s.
5e) Positive organizational
outcomes to diversity 3.71 1.96 4.03* 1.98– 1.70 0.09* 4.101.703.63 1.88 1.62 n.s.
Age as actual age; females coded as 1; 1-7 scale for religiosity and political conservatism; 0-7 scale for the diversity scale index and all other positive diversity
variables. Treatment Group N = 78, Control Group N = 42. *p < 0.10 **p < 0.05 ***p < 0.01
processes. All students were encouraged to be re
spectful of others during class and team discussions.
Starting gradually with the introduction of less
threatening material, students were more open to the
idea of sharing their perspectives. When they per-
ceived the class climate to be supportive of them,
greater sharing occurred. The climate of trust facili-
tated the student inquiry aspect of scaffolding.
2) An objective overview of diversity was offered at
the onset of the class. The students were given a
business framework for why diversity is important.
At this stage, no specific types of diversity were
mentioned, but a business case for diversity was
illustrated. This was a balanced overview offering
both positive and negative ramifications for busi-
nesses which helped keep defensive reactions to a
minimum, and helped students to understand the re-
levance of this topic to them.
3) The multi-dimensionality of diversity was discussed.
It was advantageous to start with a broad definition
so that all members of the class felt like they, too,
had a place within the discussion. Specifically, in
addition to discussing the internal diversity dimen-
sions, external dimensions such as religion, socio-
economic status, education, among others were also
discussed. Providing this broad conceptual frame-
work helped students to begin making relevant
connections to themselves.
4) A non-threatening exercise or case was introduced
shortly after the multi-dimensionality of diversity
discussion to promote student sharing. How the in-
teractions are received and encouraged by both the
instructor and fellow students will directly impact
the climate of trust. The greater sense of trust the
students perceived, the more willing they were to
share their perspectives. And, as the semester pro-
gressed, the activities selected gradually started
representing more sensitive areas of diversity.
5) Team work was an integral part of the class. Student
sharing was typically greater in smaller forums, and
the students in the group were more attuned to other
members’ perspectives in the small setting than they
were to the class as a whole. Additionally, the process
of team work was a learning instrument in itself.
The constant team interaction required within this
course was the greatest single factor that helped the
students in their awareness and understanding of
diversity, representing the scaffolding techniques of
strategic guidance and motivational encouragement.
The slight shift from instructor to team orientation
enabled students to reach the next level in their
A limitation of this study is that it was conducted at
one university. Although the university is located in a
substantiated “religious conservative” area [18]; it may
be beneficial for future researchers to conduct this study
at other universities. Our assertion is that religious con-
servative students hold similar attitudes toward diversity
irrespective of their particular faith; however, it is possi-
ble that the results may vary depending on the dominant
religion for that region.
Additionally, we envision three other areas of future
research that will extend and build upon the current
analysis. First, conducting a longitudinal study could
provide insight into the longevity of the positive attitudes
toward diversity over time, and a behavioral measure of
Increasing Positive Perceptions of Diversity for Religious Conservative Students
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. CE
diversity acceptance could be developed to assess the
effectiveness of transferring the positive attitudes ac-
quired to positive behaviors. Second, research is needed
to determine effective methods for managing extreme
polar positions within classroom discussions and activi-
ties of diversity. And last, it would be beneficial for fu-
ture research to differentiate between students who are
new to the concepts of diversity and students with preex-
isting biases toward diversity. This study’s population
primarily encompassed those students new to diversity.
Most are from homogeneous environments without much
exposure to diversity and often do not realize what their
biases may be. Other students from heterogeneous envi-
ronments may enter class with established diversity
biases. Both sets of students present challenges, but they
may respond differently to diversity efforts. As such,
more research is necessary to understand the back-
grounds of our students, and how to effectively integrate
those backgrounds into the methodology for teaching
diversity. The research suggested would complement the
current study by providing a more comprehensive under-
standing of diversity teaching methods and potential
outcomes for the students.
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