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Inclusive Environments Produce Attached Alumni
Education

Inclusive Environments Produce Attached Alumni

Inclusive Environments Produce Attached Alumni

Tyler, a 19-year-old sophomore at a small liberal arts college in Virginia, found the perfect fit in his college of choice. Tyler was drawn to his school because of its academic reputation, its social justice emphasis offering and the opportunity to participate in a first-year mentoring initiative. Tyler's CliftonStrengths results clearly demonstrate why the school's values seemed to align with his own -- Tyler's top five themes are Connectedness, Developer, Belief, Intellection and Responsibility. As he describes it, "My values matter deeply to me, and they guide me through my life. In fact, I think about them a lot. I consider myself spiritual -- those who come into my life are there for a reason. I don't care if they differ in their values, but one of my values is respect and I will respect them as I hope they respect me."

Tyler's need to share his views with others matters greatly to him. He represents hundreds of thousands of college students nationally who require an inclusive campus to thrive. A recent Knight Foundation-Gallup study on free speech on college campuses found that 70% of U.S. college students say they want an open learning environment, where students are exposed to all types of speech and viewpoints, even if it means allowing offensive speech. Similarly, a 2018 study conducted by the American Council on Education found that 98% of college presidents say promoting an inclusive society is extremely important (82%) or very important (16%).

With an increasing focus on inclusion on college campuses nationally, Gallup researchers sought to verify how comfortable students felt expressing themselves in their classroom -- an important measure of inclusion in college settings. In the most recent Gallup Alumni Survey, Gallup found that just a third of recent graduates -- those who had completed their bachelor's degree between 2013 and 2018 -- strongly agree they felt very comfortable sharing ideas or opinions in class that they thought were probably only held by a minority of people.

Graduates' Comfort With Sharing Ideas in Class Held by Minority of Students
I felt very comfortable sharing ideas or opinions in class that were probably only held by a minority of people.
All graduates Female graduates Male graduates
% % %
1 (Strongly disagree) 6 6 6
2 8 11 5
3 19 20 16
4 31 28 33
5 (Strongly agree) 33 30 35
Don't know 4 4 5
Note: Among recent U.S. college graduates who completed their bachelor's degree between 2013 and 2018
Gallup Alumni Survey, 2018

Comfort sharing unpopular views varies by gender, with female grads less likely than their male peers to report feeling comfortable expressing opinions held by only a minority of students. This finding is consistent with prior research that shows women are less likely than men to ask questions during academic seminars. This gap in comfort with sharing opinions undermines the college experience given that research clearly shows students gain tremendously when they are exposed to ideas, perspectives and opinions from different genders or backgrounds.

Gallup finds that graduates' perception of inclusivity on campus is linked to their attitude toward their alma mater. Graduates who strongly agree that they felt very comfortable sharing ideas or opinions in class that were probably only held by a minority of people are more than twice as likely as those who do not strongly agree to be emotionally attached to their university. Importantly for universities and advancement offices in particular, graduates who are emotionally attached to their alma mater are more likely to be active alumni and donate back to their school.

Graduates' Emotional Attachment to Their Alma Mater, by Comfort With Sharing Ideas in Class
I felt very comfortable sharing ideas or opinions in class that were probably only held by a minority of people.
Strongly agree Do not strongly agree
% %
Emotionally attached (strong agreement with both measures of attachment) 38 18
Note: Among recent U.S. college graduates who completed their bachelor's degree between 2013 and 2018
Gallup Alumni Survey, 2018

Creating a thriving, engaged campus where students feel heard has never been more important, and there are demonstrated best practices for doing so. Gallup works with over 700,000 students at more than 1,000 college campuses to help students identify their strengths using CliftonStrengths for Students. Allowing students to better understand their unique strengths and who they are is an important first step in helping them to articulate their opinions and needs. An inclusive campus is one that recognizes, values and respects these students for their uniqueness.

Contact Gallup to learn more about its work in fostering inclusivity on college campuses nationally.

Stephanie Marken is Executive Director of Education Research at Gallup.

Tom Matson is Senior Executive Leadership Strategist, Gallup Education.


Gallup https://www.gallup.com/education/257939/inclusive-environments-produce-attached-alumni.aspx
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