Research

IDP collects, analyzes, and disseminates assessment information about our offerings (academic courses for undergraduate and graduate student; customized workshops for faculty, staff, alumni, and students; training sessions, etc.). Our commitment to assessment enables us to measure our impact, use data-informed decision-making when making programmatic changes, and communicate with campus stakeholders and partners in other academic contexts.

Given the breadth of our offerings – spanning from semester-long courses to single 3-hour-long workshops – we utilize a range of assessment strategies. Students enrolled in our academic courses (EDUC 2610, EDUC 4986, NBA 6870) are invited to complete pre- and post-surveys at the beginning and end of the semester, respectively, allowing us to measure how their attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors change over time. Students, faculty, and staff who participate in our workshops are presented with a brief survey at the end of each workshop, with questions focused primarily on their experience connecting with others and practicing skills during their time with us and often tailored to include some questions specific to the goals of each client.

In an effort to connect our work to existing empirical evidence, many of our surveys contain scales developed and validated by researchers. For example, among EDUC 2610 students who completed both the pre- and post-survey in the fall 2018 semester, we saw a statistically significant increase in cultural humility, described by scholars as “an interpersonal stance that is other-oriented rather than self-focused, characterized by respect and lack of superiority toward an individual’s cultural background and experience” (Hook et al., 2013). We also saw a significant increase in students’ motivation to use intergroup contact as an opportunity for learning, an outcome that has been empirically linked to interest in and comfort with intergroup contact (Migacheva & Tropp, 2012).

In July 2018 we began administering a survey at the end of most IDP workshops, enabling us to get a sense of how over 350 undergraduates, graduate students, faculty and staff have reacted to the content and processes shared during their time with us. Overall, the data suggest that IDP’s workshops offer meaningful opportunities for members of the Cornell community to engage with intergroup dialogue practices: a majority of survey respondents reported that during the workshop they thought about their identities in a way they hadn’t thought about them before, they practiced skills that will help them communicate with someone from a different background, and the skills they practiced will be helpful when they’re engaged in a challenging conversation.

In addition to the analysis of quantitative data collected through participant and facilitator surveys, we are in the process of developing an assessment plan focusing on rich sources of qualitative data including students’ written reflections, final papers, focus groups, and interviews. The analysis of these sources allows us to learn about individual and collective processes inside and outside the classroom, to gain an in-depth understanding of the ways in which our participants use and implement intergroup dialogue skills and content, to assess unintended impacts, and to examine our overall impact on campus.  

Assessment results have been shared with various partners on campus including University administration. In the future, we look forward to sharing results more broadly through conferences and academic publications. We are also eager to continue exploring our transformative impact on individual students through analysis of existing qualitative data, in addition to investigating our effect on the campus community, utilizing, for example, annual surveys that are distributed to all students.

Based on our own experiences, we understand the potential for intergroup dialogue to profoundly change the way people think about themselves, others, and the world around them. Though we will never completely capture the outcomes of this process – so much of which is ineffable – IDP remains committed to rigorous, creative, and relevant assessment as an integral component of creating community across difference through dialogue.

Rachel Sumner, PhD, IDP Associate Director

Rachel works with other members of the IDP research team to shape and implement IDP’s research and assessment activities. After completing her B.A. at William Smith College Rachel worked as a research assistant on a longitudinal study testing a social psychological intervention aimed at reducing the racial achievement gap in middle school. Rachel completed her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology at Cornell with a dissertation exploring the development of purpose in life and identity among college students and adults. Rachel then spent a year doing research and evaluation at a nonprofit organization, supporting after-school program providers in New York City, Newark, and Las Vegas in their efforts to use data in goal-setting and decision-making processes. In 2016 Rachel returned to Cornell as a postdoctoral associate in the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research. In that role she collaborated with researchers and youth work practitioners to investigate how youth programs promote adolescents cultivating their own identities and purpose. In January 2017 Rachel participated in the second IDP session for graduate/professional students and postdocs, after which she served as a co-facilitator and coach assisting with IDP’s offerings for Cornell students, faculty, and staff.

Research Inspired by IDP

Besides conducting our own research, IDP has also inspired members of our team to engage in social justice-related research outside of our program

“The Impact of Unpunished Hate Crimes: When Derogating the Victim Extends into Derogating the Group”

In Social Justice Research (2016), 1-21

Aaron Ong ’17

Academic Publication | College of Architecture, Art & Planning

Aaron enrolled in EDUC 2610 in freshman year, and was deeply impacted by the course. He went on to facilitate the Socioeconomic Status and Gender dialogues throughout his sophomore year. IDP triggered Aaron’s interest in intergroup relations, and left such a lasting impact that he went on to work with social psychologist Dr. Winnifred Louis (pictured, left) at the University of Queensland during the summer of his sophomore year. His stint in Australia led to an academic publication.

The social psychological study looked at the impact of a racist hate crime on observers within an Australian context (White-Aboriginal Australian relations). While research has shown that individuals tend to derogate or blame victims when the perpetrator of a hate crime goes unpunished by the justice system, this study is among the first to empirically demonstrate that this derogation extends to the group level (i.e., reinforcing prejudice towards all Aboriginal Australians). This has critical implications for social justice; group authorities’ response or non-response to a hate crime can influence wider social attitudes. Click here to read more about this study.

Head-shot of Katelyn

“EDUC 2610: IDP’s Impact on Student Attitudes and Behaviors Regarding Diversity and Inclusion”

Katelyn Fletcher ‘15

Senior Year Honors Thesis|College of Human Ecology

Katelyn took EDUC 2610 as part of her education minor during her sophomore year, and subsequently underwent training to become an IDP facilitator. Her positive experience with the program led her to focus her senior year Honors thesis on evaluating the early stages of the EDUC 2610 program using the data we had collected. Working under the supervision of Professor Stephen Hamilton from Human Development, along with IDP staff and faculty, her findings underscored the positive impacts of IDP on student attitudes within the Cornell context.

By analyzing pre/post-test survey findings, Katelyn’s study found that Cornell students who had taken the early iterations of EDUC 2610 were more likely to take self-directed, other-directed, and intergroup collaborative action to promote social justice causes. Given that one of IDP’s goals is the mobilization of students to become social agents for change, her study underscores the efficacy of the program thus far.

Katelyn not only presented her research findings at a Cornell Panel Presentation of IDP Research in Cornell in May 2015, but also at the Northeastern Intergroup Relations (IGR) Conference at Skidmore College in June 2015. Click here to watch a presentation of her findings.