Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

James Lampley

Committee Members

James Bitter, Louise Dickson, Virginia Foley


Considerable research has been conducted examining the benefits of diversity on campus and diversity programming for undergraduate students. However, minimal research has been focused on connecting reading fiction as a potential resource for diversity programming. Diversity courses, racial awareness workshops, and service learning opportunities are all supported by research for their transformational influence on students’ attitudes and perceptions towards minority and underrepresented groups on campus. Emerging studies have established that reading narrative fiction can enhance readers’ empathic and multicultural attitudes, shift perspectives and outlooks, and enhance moral reasoning. Benefits such as these could be harnessed to cultivate a campus culture that is inclusive and celebrates diversity.

The purpose of this quantitative research study was to explore the relationship between self-reported reading habits of undergraduate students and multicultural awareness and acceptance scores, measured by the Survey of Self-Reported Reading Habits and Diversity Orientation of Undergraduate Students. A 33-item paper survey was distributed to 389 students enrolled in courses in the College of Business, College of Education, and College of Nursing at a public university in East Tennessee. Three hundred eighty-three usable surveys were collected from a sample size of 389, a 98% response rate.

Results from the 2-way ANOVA analysis on the 9 research questions indicated that respondents who read at an avid or moderate level typically had higher scores revealing more openness and appreciation for diversity. Also, the majority of respondents reported reading at least at a moderate frequency level and fiction is one of the most preferred reading genres. The findings provide further support that reading literary fiction is a credible resource for fostering empathy and increasing tolerance on this campus.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.