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Racial Inequality in Critical Thinking Skills: The Role of Academic and Diversity Experiences


  • Josipa Roksa

    () (University of Virginia)

  • Teniell L. Trolian

    () (University at Albany, State University of New York)

  • Ernest T. Pascarella

    () (University of Iowa)

  • Cindy A. Kilgo

    () (University of Alabama)

  • Charles Blaich

    () (Wabash College)

  • Kathleen S. Wise

    () (Wabash College)


While racial inequalities in college entry and completion are well documented, much less is known about racial disparities in the development of general collegiate skills, such as critical thinking. Using data from the Wabash National Study of Liberal Arts Education, we find substantial inequality in the development of critical thinking skills over four years of college between African American and White students. The results indicate that these inequities are not related to students’ academic experiences in college but are substantially related to their experiences with diversity. These findings have important implications for understanding racial inequality in higher education and considering strategies for addressing observed disparities.

Suggested Citation

  • Josipa Roksa & Teniell L. Trolian & Ernest T. Pascarella & Cindy A. Kilgo & Charles Blaich & Kathleen S. Wise, 2017. "Racial Inequality in Critical Thinking Skills: The Role of Academic and Diversity Experiences," Research in Higher Education, Springer;Association for Institutional Research, vol. 58(2), pages 119-140, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:reihed:v:58:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s11162-016-9423-1
    DOI: 10.1007/s11162-016-9423-1

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