Understandings of Multiculturalism Among Students in a Multicultural Prairie City

Progress Report -- December, 1998


Paul Gingrich

Department of Sociology and Social Studies

University of Regina

Regina, Saskatchewan


A. Review of Stages of Project. The various stages of the project are outlined in Section 2, pages 4 and 5, of the research proposal submitted in January, 1998. The first stage of the research project includes a review of the literature, preparation of a survey, development of a survey schedule, doing the survey, and carrying out an initial analysis of the data. These tasks were to be completed by December, 1998.

The second stage of the project, to be conducted in 1999, involves a supplementary sample, conducting one or two focus groups, interviewing some students, analyzing the results, and presenting the findings in a variety of formats.

B. Progress of Project. The first stage of the project has been completed and, with one or two minor exceptions, the project is on schedule. The only aspect of the project which did not get carried out as anticipated is the review of the literature. While I was able to do some literature review in the summer of 1998, other work commitments did not make it possible for me to do this as extensively as I had hoped. I will be returning to the review of the literature in the summer of 1999, in order to assist in presentation of the results and writing a paper and report.

The survey schedule was prepared between August and October. This is the attached Survey of Student Attitudes and Experiences Fall 1998. The survey was pretested (pretest version of the questionnaire is attached) using 83 University of Regina undergraduates in October, 1998. Following the pretest, the questionnaire was revised and 712 University of Regina students were surveyed. The survey was completed on November 26, the questionnaires were coded, and the data from the questionnaires entered into the SPSS computer program. The data entry was completed on November 27, the data set was cleaned on November 28, and the Report on the Survey of Student Attitudes and Experiences Fall 1998 was written on November 29 and 30. From December 1 through 4, the Report was distributed to the students who participated in the survey by answering the questionnaires. In addition, one of the students who was part of the class that assisted with the survey, conducted a supplementary survey of her own among adult, evening students. Approximately one hundred and twenty students of this type responded to this questionnaire and these data will also become part of the data set for the project. This is all the work on this project that I intend to carry out before the end of December, 1998.

In January, 1999 I will return to work on the project. As can be noted on page 15 of the questionnaire, there was a request for volunteers to be interviewed or participate in a focus group. Approximately twenty-five students volunteered in this manner, and I will attempt to contact these students in January or early February. In addition, I will arrange to interview some other students and arrange two or more focus groups. While the sample of 712 students was reasonably representative of University of Regina undergraduate students in many characteristics, the sample was deficient in some respects. As noted on page 5 of the January, 1998 research proposal, I will attempt to fill in some of these sampling gaps by conducting a supplementary survey in early 1999.

From January through June, 1999, I will carry out detailed analysis of the data and begin preparing reports and a paper. In addition to the Fall, 1998 survey, data from Fall, 1997 as well as from interviews and focus groups, will be used in the data analysis and reports. The analysis will not be completed to present to the Congress of the Social Science and Humanities in June, 1999, but should be ready to present to a conference in Fall, 1999 or before too late in 2000. In any case, the analysis of the data and most of the writing of the reports and articles should be complete by December, 1999. The only remaining task at that point would be presenting the results at a conference. I will provide your Department with a final report by the end of February, 2000.

C. Budget. To date, the main budgetary expenses have been for printing, photocopying, student assistants, and miscellaneous expenses. Since some of the payments were not made until December, our University budgetary control system will not have up-to-date reports on total expenses until some time in January, 1999. When those budget reports are available, I will forward them to Canadian Heritage. I have attached the University budget reports through December 10, 1998, but there are still a number of expenditures that have not yet been entered into the University budget system. The following is a rough estimate of the total expenditures and the reasons for the expenditures.

Photocopying $60

Printing of questionnaires $600

Student assistants $600

Miscellaneous $110

Total $1,370

Photocopying expenses related to preparing the questionnaire were considerable. The thirteen students who helped prepare the questions each needed copies of the proposed questions. The printing costs turned out to be somewhat greater than anticipated, with the whole cost of the questionnaires charged to this project. The University budget was charged for the printing of the reports that were distributed to the students who completed the questionnaires. The student assistant expenses relate entirely to data entry. Two graduate students were employed for a total of 42 hours to do the data entry into the computer. There were some miscellaneous expenses for office supplies, books, and manuals.

While printing costs may be over budget, student assistant expenses are under budget. As a result, if the final installment of $1,393 becomes available to the project, then there should be ample remaining budget for the anticipated expenses. I expect to use student assistants for more of the data analysis and interviews than originally anticipated. That is, I am shifting some of the student assistant expenses from the September to December period to the January to June period, but these funds would still be used to employ student assistants.

One other change that I would like to suggest is that I use some of the budget to assist in developing a web site for the project. The Fall, 1997 survey results are available on a web site at http://uregina.ca/~gingrich/ss306.htm and I would like to develop a similar web site for the Fall, 1998 and subsequent results. This web site would provide a good means of making the data and analysis from this project more widely available. Since this item was not included in the original budget estimates, I will plan to use some of the student assistant funds to hire someone with the expertise necessary to assist with the web site. Since this individual is likely to be a student, this could be regarded as very similar to student assistant support.

D. Content of the Survey. The Survey covers a variety of areas, but pages 7 through 10 of the questionnaire deal specifically with issues of multiculturalism and immigration. Question 25 is a repeat from the Fall, 1997 survey, so in total I have over one thousand short answer responses to this question, "What does multiculturalism mean to you?" Just under four hundred of these were provided in the research proposal, pages 105-112. One of the tasks for 1999 will be to analyze all of these responses. Questions 26 and 27 concern knowledge of multiculturalism or multicultural policy. Question 28 asks for an overall evaluation of federal policy. The four parts to question 29 provide some information concerning multiculturalism within the University of Regina. The six parts in question 30 are similar to the Fall, 1997 questions and provide information concerning views on various aspects of Canadian multiculturalism or federal policy. Question 31 provides an idea of whether individuals relate positively or negatively to the idea of multiculturalism. The five parts to question 32 are intended to address various criticisms of multicultural policy in Canada. Questions 33 through 37 are primarily concerned with attitudes toward immigration and immigrants. While not central to multiculturalism, these are certainly related issues. Questions concerning respondents' personal and family background should also be of interest for this project. In particular, questions 42 and 43 provide information concerning ethnic ancestry and identity of respondents. A number of other questions, such as sex and age are also relevant for analysis of the responses.

The section of the Survey on pages 4-5, Social and Political Views, should provide an interesting way of sorting through some of the views concerning multiculturalism. The questions on pages 4-5 should allow identification of various types and dimensions of political and social views, and these can then be connected with approaches to multiculturalism.

While I have not been able to carry out a very full analysis of the data from the Survey, there is a short summary of the results on the third page of Report on the Survey of Student Attitudes and Experiences Fall 1998. Note that there was generally a positive response to many questions concerning multiculturalism, with not a great deal of support for the alleged negative effects of multiculturalism. While many respondents said that they did not have all that much knowledge of federal multicultural policy, the personal impact of multiculturalism (pie chart) was more strongly positive than negative. The identity question shows that a large proportion of respondents are themselves multiethnic in terms of their ancestry.

In addition to the Report, I am attaching a copy of the frequency distributions from the Fall, 1998 survey. The sample size was 712 students, but 9 respondents were eliminated from the data set because they did not appear to have taken the survey seriously, and the data from these respondents were of questionable quality. As a result, the attached frequency distributions provide summary data for 703 respondents. This data set will be the core data set for further analysis, with supplementary data from the survey of adult students, interviews, focus groups, and supplementary surveys also forming part of the overall analysis.

I note that I did not credit the Multiculturalism Program itself on the questionnaire, although I did note that the project received financial support from the Department of Canadian Heritage. However, I did correct this in the Report. In the box providing thanks on the last page of the Report, there is a note thanking the Multiculturalism Program of the Department of Canadian Heritage for financial support. I trust that this latter statement is all right. If so, I will continue to use the statement in this form.

E. Conclusion. The project is on track in terms of time schedule and budget. The bulk of the data production has been completed. The remaining time and budget will primarily be devoted to obtaining some data that may be more qualitative, rather than quantitative, in nature, and analyzing and reporting on all the data.



Paul Gingrich

December 10, 1998