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ACTIVATING DIVERSITY: The Impact of Student Race on Contributions to Course Discussions


Richard N. Pitt, Department of Sociology, Vanderbilt University, 311 Garland Hall, Nashville, TN 37235; e-mail:


Racial diversity is understood to play an important role for all students on the college campus. In recent years, much effort has gone into documenting the positive effects of this diversity. However, few studies have focused on how diversity impacts student interactions in the classroom, and even fewer studies attempt to quantify contributions from students of different races. Using Web blog discussions about race and religion, the authors uncover the differences in contributions black and white students make to those discussions. The implications of these findings are important for scholars interested in how diversity impacts student learning, and for policymakers advocating on behalf of affirmative action legislation.