Last week I shared the first round of findings from our study of the 2012 cohort’s intercultural competence development during their college career. One finding that jumped out was the disappointing difference in change between men and women. While women’s scores improved on both the cognitive and the behavioral scales, the men’s scores only improved on the cognitive scale. In addition, the women’s improvement on the cognitive scale was notably larger than the men and the degree of women’s improvement on the behavioral scale almost doubled the advantage they started with over men four years earlier.
At the Board of Trustees meetings last week, I provided our annual Academic Quality Markers for the 2016 cohort to the Academic Affairs Committee. It’s pretty apparent that there is something troubling going on with male participation and engagement. Male participation in study abroad, service learning, and volunteering is significantly lower than women. This pattern continues in three student experience items that address our efforts to cultivate citizenship. Moreover, the other comparisons by race/ethnicity and socio-economic status don’t contain such repeated disparities between groups. The only other significant difference occurs where one would expect: white students report less encouragement to interact across difference compared to students of color. Given the substantially higher proportion of white students on campus, it would certainly take relatively less “encouragement” for students of color to find themselves interacting across difference.
I’m sure that the explanation for these differences between men and women are complex. However, we might have found something that could enlighten an effort to better educate our male students within the Global Perspectives Inventory (GPI) data that I shared last week and referenced above. One set of questions within this survey, the Social Responsibility Scale, is composed of statements that focus on the degree to which the respondent engages in the public sphere to affect change. As an example, two of the statements (to which the respondent indicates a level of agreement or disagreement) are: “I work for the rights of others,” and “I consciously behave in terms of making a difference.”
It might not surprise you to find out that male and female Augustana students from the 2012 cohort entered with different average scores, different enough that the gap would be considered marginally statistically significant.
- Female: 3.76
- Male: 3.62
But what surprised me was that over the course of four years, only the women had grown on this scale. Male students had on average remained unmoved.
2012 females: 3.76 – – – – – – – – – – – – 2016 females: 3.88
2012 males: 3.62 – – – – – – – – – – – – 2016 males: 3.59
Maybe this lack of male growth in prioritizing social responsibility partially explains the difference between men and women in volunteering and service learning participation. Maybe it partially explains the male deficit in getting something substantive out of Symposium Day. And maybe it partially explains the relatively lower sense among men that Augustana encouraged them to interact across difference.
If our goal, as our mission statement seems to suggest, is to graduate individuals who engage in both leadership and service, it appears that we may need to revisit the ways that we develop a service orientation among our male students.
Hmm . . . if only there were a major reconfiguration of the Augustana educational experience that would allow us to try something new based on these findings . . .
Make it a good day,