Integrity development in college students
Garrett, James Matthew
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The purpose of this study was to understand the influence of various collegiate experiences on the development of integrity and exploration of values in traditionally-aged college students. Defined by many as an important public good that promotes positive transformations in society (AAC&U, 2012), integrity is a key collegiate outcome that practitioners must better understand, including the experiences of college students that most positively promote values exploration and congruence. The development of values associated with integrity and morality has been a guiding principle of American higher education, espeically in liberal arts colleges (Hersch & Schneider, 2005; Thelin, 2004). This quantitative study was designed to be both exploratory and predictive. The study utilized a number of basic student involvement experiences and analyzed those experiences against both values and integrity scores of traditionally-aged college students. Utilizing the Multi-Institutional Study of Leadership Student Involvement Inventory (Dugan, 2013), the Portrait Values Questionnaire (Schwartz, 2011), and the Integrity Scale (Schlenker, 2008), the study analyzed three overarching research questions: (1) What is the relationship between various collegiate involvement experiences and values?, (2) What is the relationship between various collegiate involvement experiences and the measure of a student’s level of integrity?, and (3) Does a model exist, and if so what components are part of a model, that predicts a students’ level of integrity based on student involvement experiences and personal values? A sample of 4,000 traditionally-aged (18-24) college students at two institutions, a large state flagship and a medium private, was used. The usable response rate was 7.5%. Findings suggest that a number of major student engagement experiences correlate directly and significantly with various values that students hold. Further, these experiences, the associated values, and their influence on the students’ level of integrity is clearly indicated. These implications can provide student affairs practitioners with information that can help structure leadership and other co-curricular experiences to better support students as they go through the process of developing integrity.