Note: This is a student project from a course affiliated with the Ethnography of the University Initiative. EUI supports faculty development of courses in which students conduct original research on their university, and encourages students to think about colleges and universities in relation to their communities and within larger national and global contexts.

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Title:Different Experiences of Anglo vs. Latina/o Students in Latina/o Studies
Author(s):Hurtado, Denise
Subject(s):Latina/o Studies
Latino students
Anglo students
white students
Latino Latina Studies
Abstract:My research aimed to answer one main question: Is the experience of Latina/o classes different for Anglo students as opposed to Latina/o students? Furthermore, it seeked to answer the following questions: Do the instructors of Latina/o classes perceive there is a difference between Anglo students and Latina/o students’ experience? Why do students from different backgrounds take this course? How much does a Latina/o class contribute to the students’ knowledge of Latina/o culture? As a Latina/o Studies major I have often wondered why there were Anglo students in LLS courses. I would ask myself if they were there because of a genuine interest towards Latinos or because they had to be there due to a requirement they had to fulfill. I decided to give many the benefit of the doubt and believe that they wanted to learn more about my culture. However, as the years passed and the classes got smaller, I realized that many were there because it fulfilled a general education requirement or a requirement for their major. To be fair, not all white students were ‘forced’ to be there. Many do register for the classes due to a genuine interest in wanting to learn about Latinos. I found that the experience for Anglo and Latino students in Latina/o classes are very different. Most of my Latina interviewees expressed genuine interest in learning about their culture while the Anglo students did not express much interest in the courses. The professor of the class did perceive a difference between Anglo and Latino students’ experiences. She believes that from her experience, Anglo students tend to take the class because it is a required course while Latino students take the course due to interest in learning about their culture. Furthermore, the professor has noticed that Anglo students tend to be more anxious and hesitant when approaching the material. My interviews also revealed this notion but at the same time my observations in the class proved that many Anglo students were not that hesitant or anxious about the material. Furthermore, my observations and interviews revealed some hidden prejudices among the Anglo students. However, I do not blame the students but rather their background. Both Anglo students are from a predominantly white background and had never had much interaction with any minorities or any race other than their own. The promising note from this study is that although I may have found some hidden prejudices, the Anglo students I interviewed seemed to have learned at least one thing about Latina/o culture they did not know before. Thus, my hoping that students leave with a better knowledge of Latina/o culture was fulfilled.
Issue Date:2008-12
Course / Semester:EPS 500, Race and Ethnography: A Study of the University, Prof. Priscilla Fortier: This seminar is not only a course, but part of a cross-campus initiative titled Ethnography of the University Initiative. As a member of this course students joined a campus-wide learning community in which the University of Illinois was explored ethnographically. Students began the course by thinking about what the university is, as well as about race and ethnicity as phenomena within the university’s narratives. Students learned about universities and higher education in general and the University of Illinois in particular. A third area of concentration was “ethnography,” and students learned and practiced the basic skills of observation, interviewing, and writing as an ethnographer. Students completed several short assignments that were intended to help them develop these skills, as well as one larger ethnographic project on the University. The latter allowed them to explore an aspect of the university that has to do with an issue of race or ethnicity. In addition to the readings that students did as a class, they were expected to explore other research related to their project. The course syllabus is available at:
Date Available in IDEALS:2009-07-27

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