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Should Colleges Focus More on Personal and Social Responsibility? Initial Findings from Campus Surveys Conducted for the Association of American Colleges and Universities as Part of Its Initiative, Core Commitments: Educating Students for Personal and Social Responsibility

Survey Administered and Report Written By Eric L. Dey and Associates Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education University of Michigan School of Education 610 E. University Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1259

Core Commitments is supported by a generous grant from the John Templeton Foundation

2008

Should Colleges Focus More on Personal and Social Responsibility?

Overview
On behalf of the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), researchers at the University of Michigan’s Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education surveyed 23,000 undergraduate students and 9,000 campus professionals (faculty, academic administrators, and student affairs staff) at 23 institutions participating in the Templeton Foundation-supported initiative, Core Commitments: Educating Students for Personal and Social Responsibility. Data from the initial administration of the Personal and Social Responsibility Institutional Inventory (PSRII) in fall 2007 assessed the campus environment along five dimensions of personal and social responsibility: (1) striving for excellence; (2) cultivating personal and academic integrity; (3) contributing to a larger community; (4) taking seriously the perspectives of others; and (5) developing competence in ethical and moral reasoning.

About Core Commitments
Core Commitments: Educating Students for Personal and Social Responsibility aims to reclaim and revitalize the academy’s role in fostering students’ development of personal and social responsibility. It is designed to help campuses create learning environments in which all students reach for excellence in the use of their talents, take responsibility for the integrity and quality of their work, and engage in meaningful practices that prepare them to fulfill their obligations as students in an academic community and as responsible global and local citizens.

About the Personal and Social Responsibility Institutional Inventory The PSRII is a campus climate survey developed as part of the Core Commitments initiative. It is designed to gauge participants’ perceptions about the opportunities for learning and engagement with issues of personal and social responsibility across an institution. The Inventory consists of three types of questions about the five dimensions, tailored for each of the four constituent groups: • Attitudinal items: participants choose the degree to which they agree with a statement about the institution (choosing from Strongly Agree, Agree Somewhat, Disagree Somewhat, Strongly Disagree, No Basis for Judgment) • Behavioral items: participants choose the degree to which they experience a particular phenomenon at the institution (choosing from Frequently, Occasionally, Never) • Open-ended items: participants provide text related to experiences, programs, and practices at the institution that help students to develop personal and social responsibility.

Should Colleges Focus More on Personal and Social Responsibility?

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Initial Findings
Colleges and universities strive to promote a wide range of outcomes among the students that they enroll and serve. One goal of the Core Commitments projects is to ascertain whether students, faculty, student affairs staff, and academic administrators think personal and social responsibility should be a major focus of college education, and how well they think their institutions are successfully focusing on such outcomes. Data from the Core Commitments PSRII effort clearly demonstrate the importance of personal and social responsibility as a necessary component of a college education: Across the board, students, faculty, administrators, and student affairs staff on the 23 campuses...
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