Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education


Date of this Version


Document Type



To Improve the Academy, published by the Professional and Organizational

Development Network in Higher Education, volume 13, 1994.


The purpose of this article is to analyze the major factors responsible for the cultural diversity in America and their implications for professional educators. These factors include immigration, communication, linguistic diversity, cultural values, and desegregation. While some educators look to the demographics of the new student population, others consider historical clues as a method of understanding American diversity. Statistics about school achievement and dropout and graduation rates show the disparity among the ethnic groups. The new immigrants and ethnic groups may experience conflict as a result of cultural attitudes of teachers and peers. Individuals cannot be understood unless they are seen against the cultural history from which they have come and in terms of the situation in which they currently live. Because of the diversity in the American population, educators need to be sensitive to the cultural elements that may affect students' performance and self-esteem.