Civic engagement activities and outcomes in Chilean private for-profit and public graduate education
Brown, Lisa Rochelle
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This research examined civic engagement outcomes among Chilean post-graduate and graduate level adult learners (postgraduados) who were educated under a privatized higher educational system. The four research questions guiding this study were: (1) In what ways are Chilean public and private for-profit institutions committed to doing civic engagement education and practices? (2) What are the prevailing vMEMEs (worldviews) of Chilean graduate students in public and private for-profit higher educational institutions? (3) To what extent is there a relationship between graduate students’ personal characteristics and civic engagement outcomes? (4) Is there a relationship between institutional type and graduate students’ civic engagement outcomes? Participants at the private for-profit were compared with those at not for-profit universities using civic engagement as a key dependent variable. Personal characteristics of academic credentials, enrollment status, annual family income, and Spiral Dynamic Theory (SDT) constructs among post-graduate adult learners served as independent variables in this study and were submitted to analysis in relationship to the participants’ civic engagement outcomes. The assumption at the beginning of the study was that no difference existed among the Chilean university environments—traditional not for-profit (public) and private for-profit—with regard to expected civic engagement outcomes. This research examined that assumption as it introduced the use of memetic science to the field of adult education and learning via an application of a SDT interpretive framework. The first conclusion was that adult civic engagement, broadly conceptualized, was not well integrated into Chilean higher education through its institutional missions or academic pedagogy. Although this mixed methods study found both quantitative and qualitative differences among the three identified university environment types, the private for-profit university more consistently expressed lower levels of civic engagement outcomes than the other two not for-profit university types. The second conclusion was that overall, adult civic engagement outcomes were most influenced by the university environment and the personal characteristics of the subjects such as their socioeconomic factors and SDT worldviews. There are also broad implications for theory, policy, and practice that includes an emerging memetic conceptualization related to adult social justice awareness called Educatedness (Educadodad in Spanish).