CSUN Students Believe that Personal Responsibility Should be Major Focus of College Life, Survey Says
(NORTHRIDGE, Calif., May 15, 2008) — Cal State Northridge students, faculty and administrators agree that personal and social responsibility should be a major focus of college learning and life, according to a recent survey.
The survey was conducted as part of a national effort by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU), "Core Commitments: Educating Students for Personal and Social Responsibility," to embed personal and social accountability in student life in and out of the classroom.
Among the survey’s findings: 75 percent of CSUN students strongly agree that it is important to develop a strong work ethic in their academic activities; 68 percent strongly agree that helping students develop a strong sense of personal and academic integrity should be a major focus of this campus; 51 percent believe that stressing the importance of contribution to a larger community should be a major focus of the campus; and 71 percent strongly believe that the university should help students recognize the importance of taking seriously the perspectives of others.
While students affirmed the importance of developing a strong moral compass and commitment to increased social responsibility, members of the faculty and administration did not perceive that students held such strong levels of interest in these areas.
"This ‘disconnect’ is consistent with national trends that found young adults far more engaged in the current national election primary than their elders may have expected," said Maureen Rubin, CSUN’s director of undergraduate students and one of the coordinators of the university’s participation in AACU’s Core Commitments project. "Clearly, the university must provide opportunities for students, faculty and administrators to become engaged in addressing critical contemporary issues and do more to promote positive personal attributes."
College of Humanities Dean Elizabeth Say, another CSUN coordinator of the Core Commitments project, said the university "is committed to increasing its curricular and co-curricular programs to provide additional opportunities to integrate social awareness, personal accountability and academic honesty."
Cal State Northridge is one of only 23 colleges and universities across the country chosen to be part of AACU’s Core Commitments three-year initiative to revitalize the role of higher education in fostering the development of personal and social responsibility among college students. Participation in the AACU national survey is a key component of this initiative.
The Personal and Social Responsibility Institutional Inventory was administered in fall of 2007 by researchers from the University of Michigan. It examined perceptions of how well campus environments encouraged five dimensions of personal and social responsibility; striving for excellence; cultivating personal and academic integrity; contributing to a larger community; taking seriously the perspectives of others; and developing competence in ethical and moral reasoning.
When CSUN joined the initiative last year, it pledged to match the $25,000 AACU grant to ensure that the program effectively reaches its students. The program incorporates such subjects as the dangers of cheating and plagiarism, binge drinking and the use of drugs as well as broader issues that encompass being a responsible and contributing member of society.
For years, Northridge faculty and staff have incorporated service learning, where students apply what they have learned in the classroom to real-world situations with local schools, nonprofits or governmental agencies, into campus life. In 1998, the university formalized that commitment with the creation of its Center for Community-Service Learning, which aims to inspire, encourage and support students and faculty in their pursuit of academic excellence through involvement in meaningful community service. The center pairs organizations looking for assistance with faculty and students who can help.
California State University, Northridge has 35,200 full- and part-time students and offers 60 bachelor’s and 50 master’s degrees as well as 28 teaching credential programs. Founded in 1958, CSUN is among the largest single-campus universities in the nation and the only four-year public university in the San Fernando Valley. The university serves as the intellectual, economic and cultural heart of the Valley and beyond.