Just how diversity factors into the learning environment at Northern Arizona University and impacts student outcomes is the focus of a first-of-its-type survey.

NAU will be one of 20 pilot universities and colleges to participate in the survey by UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute. Institute Director Sylvia Hurtado and her team will be on campus March 29-30 to conduct the survey, which is sponsored by a grant from the Ford Foundation.

“Your institution is invited to serve as a pilot because it serves a high percentage of underrepresented students, has demonstrated initial investment in diversity initiatives and is aiming to increase its retention rates,” Hurtado wrote to NAU.

“No current survey instrument exists that focuses solely on issues surrounding diversity, including the climate, campus practices and outcomes,” said Eva Putzová, NAU planning and policy analyst, who is helping coordinate aspects of the study. “This research intends to fill that void by providing campuses with a more nuanced understanding of diversity on campus.”

The project will examine the degree to which institutions integrate diversity in their environments to achieve key student-learning outcomes.

An online survey will target sophomores, juniors and transfer students who have completed one year at the university. The survey team also will conduct focus groups of students and practitioners and interviews of senior administrators. Putzová will be contacting potential participants for the study.