A Qualitative Investigation into Student Perceptions of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion After Taking an Inclusive Leadership Course

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The Ohio State University

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Minoritized students in engineering at The Ohio State University (OSU), as well as other higher education institutions, have been subject to microaggressions from faculty, staff, and fellow students. Microaggressions are intentional or unintentional comments or actions that end up hurting and insulting members of minoritized groups. Previous studies have shown that microaggressions impact student academic success as well as student mental health directly. Effects on mental health include imposter syndrome, a sense of alienation, and heightened depression and anxiety. Effects on academic success include lower academic performance, retention, and graduation rates. The Inclusive Leadership Engineering Course (ENGR 4375) (optional for OSU undergraduate engineering students) aims to reduce this detrimental phenomenon in the College of Engineering at OSU by enhancing student perceptions of diversity, equity, and inclusion. This study revolves around this course and its effect on students. This study consists of conducting multiple cycles of qualitative coding analysis on statements written by students who have taken the course. Statements that were written by the students before they took the course and after they took the course were examined. The cycles of qualitative coding that were conducted yielded themes that encapsulated the meaning behind the statements. The themes that emerged from the pre-assessment and the post-assessment were compared to evaluate the impact of the course. Overall, students were more superficial and leaned more towards avoidance in their responses before they took the course. They saw inclusive leadership and growth predominantly as a means to an end, a way to succeed. Student responses after the course concluded contained the theme of self-reflection, which was not present in the pre-assessment. These results could influence the future of the first two engineering courses required of all OSU undergraduate engineering students.


Denman Undergraduate Research Forum, Human Experience Finalist


Allyship, Diversity, Qualitative Coding, Engineering Education, Microaggressions