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The Nature of RaceHow Scientists Think and Teach about Human Difference$

Ann Morning

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780520270305

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520270305.001.0001

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(p.267) Appendix D Student Questionnaire

(p.267) Appendix D Student Questionnaire

The Nature of Race
University of California Press

A. Background

  1. A1 I know I checked that you are 18 or older, but please remind me how old you are?

  2. A2 So you are a senor or a junior here at the university?

  3. A3 What part of the country are you from originally?

  4. A4 Is that where you spent most of your childhood?

  5. A5 What are your parents’ occupations?

    Father:_______ Mother:______

  6. A6 Do you know how much education your parents have completed?

    Father: _____ Mother:______

  7. A7 A lot of the questions I’ll ask you today will have to do with how race might come up in the classroom here. But before we get to that, I’m curious to know a little about the racial makeup of the community where you grew up—how would you characterize it?

  8. (p.268) A8 Are ethnic or religious identities important to people in your home community?

  9. A9 Did your elementary and secondary schools tend to have the same racial and ethnic makeup as your home community?

  10. A10 How do you usually describe yourself in terms of race?

  11. A11 Would you say you have any religious affiliation? If so, what is it?

  12. A12 How would you describe your political leanings—for example, in terms of political party affiliation or a liberal-to-conservative spectrum?

B. Education

  1. S1 You are majoring in (name major)—do you have a second major as well?

  2. S2 How would you characterize your academic experience here at (nameuniversity): positive, negative, or somewhere in between?

  3. S3 Why do you characterize it that way?

  4. S4 Here I have a list of all the undergraduate majors here at the university. Would you please check off all the areas in which you can recall having completed at least one class so far?

As I mentioned, I’m interested in exploring with you today the ways in which the topic of race may come up in the classroom setting.

  1. S5 Would you say that the topic of race has come up much in the classes you have taken here?

  2. S6 Is race more likely to be a topic of discussion in certain subject areas than others? To answer, you might want to look back at the list of departments in which you’ve taken classes.

  3. S7 What kinds of issues is race usually connected to in each of these subject areas?

  4. A13 Now let’s turn to your department (name department field) in particular. In the undergraduate courses offered by your department, does the topic of race (or race-related issues) come up much?

  5. A14 When race is discussed in (name department) classes, what kinds of issues is it usually connected to?

In addition to your academic work, I’m also interested in discussions about race that students might have outside the classroom.

  1. A15 In general, would you say the topic of race comes up often at this university?

  2. A16 In connection with what kinds of topics is race usually brought up?

(p.269) C. Conceptualizations of Race

So far I’ve asked you several questions related to race and how people talk about it, but I haven’t asked you how you define the meaning of the word “race.” This might seem like a strange question, since race is such an everyday idea in the United States that we generally don’t think very often about how it is defined. But research has shown that different people have different ideas about things like what determines a person’s race, or which groups should be considered races.

  1. A17 First of all, if you had to give a definition of the word “race,” or explain what it was, what would you say?

  2. A18 What kind of information or facts would you use to support that definition?

  3. A19 What are the main kinds of differences that exist between racial groups; that is, what kinds of things make racial groups different from each other?

  4. A20 Do you think there are biological differences between different races? Why or why not?

  5. A21 How would you say racial differences come about—what causes them?

At this point, I’d like to ask you how you think some other groups of people would define the concept of race. I’ll do this by showing you a printed statement, and then asking you first for your opinion about it, and then I’ll ask you how you think some other people would react to it.

  1. A22 First I’m going to give you a card with a short statement printed on it; this sentence is taken from a survey that was conducted in the 1980s. After you’ve read the statement, I’d like to know whether you agree or disagree with it. (Hand over card, which reads: “There are biological races within the species Homo sapiens.”) Now, how would you describe your reaction to this statement: do you agree or disagree?

  2. A23 Why do you [agree]/[disagree]?

  3. A24 Let’s stick with this statement for a minute. How do you think that most of your peers—other students here at (name university)—would react to it? In general, do you think other students would agree or disagree? Why?

  4. A25 What about Americans in general, the public—do you think most Americans would agree or disagree with the statement I showed you? Why?

Now I’m going to describe to you two scenarios—taken from real life—where racial groups differ in terms of some outcome or phenomenon. In each case, I’ll describe the facts of the situation to you, and then ask you to give me a couple (p.270) of possible explanations for the differences in the experiences of different racial groups. That is, I’d like you to give a couple of plausible reasons that might explain the situations I’ll describe to you.

  1. S8 The first scenario I’ll describe refers to a biomedical outcome, namely, the weight of babies at birth. Researchers have discovered that at birth, babies of different racial groups tend to have different weights. For example, white babies have among the highest median weight, black babies among the lowest, and Asian babies’ weights tend to be in the middle. In your opinion, what are some possible explanations for this finding?

  2. S9 Which do you think is the most likely explanation? Why?

  3. S10 The second scenario I’ll describe has to do with sports, and the overrepre-sentation, or underrepresentation, of certain racial groups in certain sports, compared to their share of the total population of the country. To give you an example from football: in the NFL, blacks make up 67 percent of the players and white athletes are in the minority. But in the total population of the United States as a whole, whites make up the majority and blacks count for only 12 percent of the population. In your opinion, what could be some plausible explanations for why the racial composition of the National Football League is so different from the racial makeup of the country as a whole?

  4. S11 Which explanation do you think is the most likely one? Why?

  5. A26 Those are all the questions I have for you. Is there anything else that you’d like to add—maybe a comment on a related topic I didn’t think to ask you about?

  6. A27 And are there any questions that you’d like to ask me?