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ERIC Number: ED563732
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 171
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-3035-7612-6
Educative Conditions for Prosocial Value Development during College
Horn, Aaron S.
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Minnesota
Several facets of the undergraduate experience have been linked with the importance students assign to prosocial values (e.g., helping people in need), including academic major, exposure to social and cultural diversity, community service, and a prosocial institutional ethos. However, these factors have not been examined within a single framework that links prosocial value development to educative conditions and critical psychological assets, including empathy, existential engagement, prosocial expectancies, and social problem understanding. Longitudinal data were derived from the responses of 7,709 undergraduate students (59 percent female, 15 percent non-White ethnicity, modal age = 18) who completed the CIRP Freshman Survey during 1991 and the College Senior Survey as graduating seniors during 1995. Responses were examined with multiple regression and path analysis. The multiple regression results demonstrated that gains in empathy, existential engagement, and prosocial expectancies, as well as perceived change in social problem understanding, predicted greater prioritization of helping people in need than of being financially well off during the senior year (ß = 0.08-0.14). Majoring in any field, relative to majoring in business or economics, was positively associated with prosocial value prioritization. Particularly large associations with prosocial value prioritization were observed among students who majored in the humanities, psychology, social sciences, caring-oriented fields (e.g., education), and biology (ß = 0.37-0.50), relative to majoring in business. Path model results indicated that majoring in the social sciences was indirectly associated with the value measure via perceived change in social problem understanding, and majoring in the humanities predicted value orientation via existential engagement. Participation in diversity workshops, the completion of diversity coursework, and frequent cross-racial interactions predicted greater prosocial value development (ß = 0.06-0.16). The relationship between diversity and value orientation was at least partly mediated by empathy. Participation in volunteerism only (ß = 0.20), or a combination of service-learning and volunteerism (ß = 0.33) but not service-learning alone, was positively associated with the development of a prosocial value orientation. Moreover, an analysis of the organizational context of service revealed that service through educational, healthcare, community relief, and social services organizations (but not through public safety, political, recreational, or environmental organizations) was uniquely associated with senior-year value orientation (ß = 0.08-0.15). Although the duration of service was positively associated with prosocial value prioritization, direct contrasts of service duration categories indicated that participation in service for less than one month did not predict gains in prosocial value development relative to no service. Furthermore, experiences of 7-12 months were not associated with greater prosocial value development relative to service duration of more than 12 months. Each service variable was also indirectly associated with value orientation: the combination of service-learning and volunteerism via social problem understanding; social services organization via each psychological asset; community relief organization via existential engagement and social problem understanding; and service duration via empathy, prosocial outcome expectancies, and social problem understanding. Finally, exposure to a prosocial ethos was also positively associated with prosocial value prioritization (ß = 0.14), an association that was partly mediated by existential engagement. The findings suggest that prosocial value development can be promoted by (a) ensuring that major curricula explicitly endorse the prioritization of prosocial ideals, incite a reasoned examination of ethical dilemmas, and connect specialized knowledge with social problems and solutions; (b) increasing exposure to a general civic curriculum, including diversity coursework and high-quality service-learning courses; (c) facilitating interactions among students of diverse backgrounds; (d) promoting participation in a co-curriculum that includes diversity workshops and volunteerism through humanitarian organizations; and (e) cultivating a campus community that expects and recognizes the pursuit of prosocial ideals. Among the future directions for research, a longitudinal analysis of multiple time lags is needed to understand the dynamic changes in the reflective evaluation, affirmation, and enactment of personal values during college. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A