Are institutions doing everything they can to ensure a supportive environment for all of their students? Colleges and universities strive for the same goal–to provide a safe and welcoming environment for their students that allows them to achieve their potential. Clearly, there can be challenges to achieving this goal, and sometimes the greatest challenge is not having the right tools to identify the important issues on campus.
Further, an institution’s notion of its campus climate, which is defined as the inclusive nature of one’s campus environment, could be very different from how a student attending the institution, perceives it.
We know that ensuring a healthy campus climate and a diverse learning environment starts with making a commitment to monitoring student outcomes. To affect real change on campus and advance every student’s capacity for success, institutions and students need to get on the same page about the real and perceived issues on campus. Decades of research and writing have already established:
Diversity has value-added benefits for student learning.
Campus practices that create an opportunity for student interaction are essential.
Campus climate is critical to all students’ ability to benefit from their educational environments.
An institution that assesses one’s campus climate and learning environment is maximizing student learning and retention.
A diverse student body is necessary to increase the probability of different kinds of students interacting with one another.
The important question is, if we all understand these things to be true, what are we doing about it? How much do we know about the climate on campus, and how institutional practices impact student outcomes?
All institutions should be measuring the outcomes of student learning. Our newest survey tool, the Diverse Learning Environments Survey (DLE), is the only tool of its kind designed to reveal essential diversity and campus climate information so institutions can better assess student learning outcomes. Survey findings help institutions identify the best strategy to support all of their students and increase their opportunities for success.
For more information on the DLE, please visit www.heri.ucla.edu/dleoverview.php