Publication Date

April 2015

Advisor(s)

Steven Stemler

Major

Psychology

Language

English (United States)

Abstract

The development of responsible citizens is central to the mission of public education in the U.S. and Argentina. Curiously, however, little research exists on how responsible citizenship is defined and measured in higher education settings. In this thesis, a mixed-methods research design was implemented to address these issues. In Study 1, responsible citizenship was operationally defined using a newly developed rubric consisting of 19 dimensions. After establishing the interrater reliability of the rubric, it was used to compare curriculum-based definitions of responsible citizenship in the U.S and Argentina. The Argentine document focused only on collectivist values while the U.S. document emphasized both collectivist and individualistic values. In Study 2, student-based definitions of responsible citizenship were examined using the rubric from Study 1. The results showed that Argentine students were significantly more likely than U.S. students to endorse several behavioral themes whereas U.S. students were significantly more likely to endorse several attitudinal themes. In Study 3, a survey measuring civic behaviors and civic attitudes was administered to Argentine (n = 68) and U.S. (n = 67) university students. The relationships between civic behaviors, civic attitudes, secondary civics education and campus climate were examined. Argentine students reported having participated in significantly more civic behaviors, yet there was no significant difference between groups with regard to civic attitudes. Aspects of campus climate significantly predicted civic behaviors and civic attitudes whereas aspects of civics education did not. Implications for how universities can better foster civic engagement are discussed.

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