Bowman, N. A. (2009). College diversity courses and cognitive development among students from privileged and marginalized groups. Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, 2(3), 182.

Previous research has suggested that diversity courses generally have positive effects on college students’ cognitive development. However, it is unclear how many courses students need to take to maximize their cognitive gains, or whether some groups of students benefit more from taking these courses. Within a longitudinal sample of over 3,000 first-year students at 19 institutions, students who take at least one diversity course have greater gains in their general interest in ideas and effortful thinking than those who take no courses; however, taking more than one course is not associated with greater benefits than taking a single course. In addition, the number of diversity courses taken is virtually unrelated to gains in critical thinking and moral reasoning. Further analyses reveal that students from middle- or lower-income families and White students experience the greatest cognitive growth from taking diversity courses. Implications for future research and practice are discussed.

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