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Accommodating the Ethno-cultural Differences of Students: An Analysis of Ontario Community Colleges

Abstract: This study relies on qualitative research: open-ended, semi-structured interviews were used to gain insight into the experiences of students of ethnically diverse backgrounds from three Greater Toronto Area (GTA) community colleges. Additional data were collected from college websites and meetings with college student services directors to gain a broader understanding of the context in which the ethnically diverse student is engaged. This research is guided by the psychosocial theories of student development of Chickering (1969), and Chickering & Reisser, (1993) including a brief overview of the cognitive-structural theory of student development; and the typology theory of student development. Student development theory provides insight into how life experiences shape one’s ability to learn and interact with others. An expert panel assisted with the refining of the interview questions and provided feedback on the overall study findings. In the interest of accountability, members of the expert panel were recruited based on their experience with issues around the diversity that exists within our GTA community colleges. Interviews were conducted with 25 students of ethnically diverse backgrounds to explore their overall college experience and their perceptions of the provision of student services at their college. The conclusions drawn from this study suggest that the colleges participating in the study have met the participants’ expectations in the areas of overall college experience and the services each provides. In addition, it was found that the colleges have had a positive impact on student experience resulting in success. The findings also indicate that these colleges have done little to facilitate quiet learning spaces and are not providing for the religious requirements of students. This study contributes to a better understanding of the challenges students from diverse backgrounds may face when seeking out services at their college and it offers recommendations to enhance these colleges’ efforts in this area along with recommendations for further research.

Author: Tracy Ryder

Source: University of Toronto - TSpace

Size: 1.14 MB
Last Updated: July 31, 2015