U’s GC evaluates education settings

The study focused on minority students’ experiences at the University.

The General College’s faculty and staff members are engaged in ongoing research that focuses on development education.

The Center for Research on Developmental Education and Urban Literacy conducted an extensive research project called MAP-IT – Multicultural Awareness Project for Institutional Transformation.

This research, specific to General College students, assesses how minority students’ environments contribute to their University experience.

The project gauged whether students felt a sense of belonging at the University, how teachers related to minority students and how that affects students’ studies.

“The initial goal of MAP-IT was to look internally at General College and see if we had a welcoming learning and working environment,” said Jeanne Higbee, the center’s senior adviser for research.

Through a set of guiding principles and a survey instrument, the project underscored the importance of multiculturalism in higher education.

Higbee said the project assessed students’ environment at the University through the lens of diversity.

According to the study, diversity signifies the simple recognition of the existence of different social-group identities.

The social-group identifications consisted of race, ethnicity, home language, religion, gender, sexual orientation, social class, age and disability.

“The real purpose of MAP-IT was to determine if institutions are providing a safe environment for students where they can feel respected and valued regardless of their social identity,” Higbee said.

The center’s staff members presented the project to the Minneapolis Community Technical College and at national and international conferences.

“The research has gotten a lot of attention,” said Dana Britt Lundell, the center’s director.

Along with other research, this research helped the center emerge as a national leader, she said.

Since the center has published the project, other institutions have called and asked about the research, Higbee said.

She appreciates how the research is applicable to the General College, she said.

Dan Detzner, a professor and associate dean of academic affairs for the General College, said the college’s research agenda focuses on what works for students.

“Students in General College have a lot of potential,” he said.

Pooja Garg, a General College student board senator, said the college’s faculty is more understanding than other colleges’.

“People know you in General College for who you are,” she said. “In other colleges, you are just another ID number.”

She said teachers in the General College can relate to students on a personal and professional level.

“They adapt to your learning style and challenge you to look beyond what you think,” Garg said.

She said she felt more of a sense of a belonging because of the diverse background of the college.