This thesis examined graduate level students' experiences of (mainly gender) diversity in the online classroom. The philosophical framework for this study came from John Rawls' work utilizing the veil of ignorance as a strategy to create more objective determinations free from situational and circumstantial biases. Both critical pedagogy and the theory that individuals construct social and cultural meaning through communication provided the theoretical foundations for the thesis. The study analyzed experiences of the students via their contributions to the online discussion boards. The study also utilized interviews of current and former students to discuss their experiences with diversity in their online classrooms. The study came from an understanding that diversity represents a unique component of the online classroom and rests in the idea that students can all benefit from the diversity of other students' experiences. This work provides a jumping off point of analysis on how best to facilitate discussions of diversity in the online classroom. Facilitating these discussions can become a primary way to break down systemic and institutionalized inequalities that exist for minority groups. Thus, this research, while not the end point, can provide a continued impetus to discover ways to make the online classroom a place of equalized learning to maximize its purpose for all students regardless of their identity. Chief findings in the study indicate the following (not-exhaustive) items: students overwhelmingly report that they value diversity conversations; students do not seem to think that conflicting ideas represent an inherent negative; and student's see the role of the instructor in facilitating, but not inserting personal commentary into the diversity discussions.
|Advisor:||Cunningham, Carolyn, Shlossberg, Pavel|
|Commitee:||Caputo, John, Crandall, Heather, Hazel, Michael|
|Department:||Communication and Leadership|
|School Location:||United States -- Washington|
|Source:||MAI 54/06M(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Communication, Teacher education, Curriculum development, Gender studies|
|Keywords:||Communication, Critical pedagogy, Diversity, Gender, Online classroom|
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