Research and Educational Change Collaborative

As part of a research-focused grant from the John Templeton Foundation, AAC&U convened a Research and Educational Change Collaborative. The Research Collaborative brought together distinguished leaders of key national and multi-institutional research studies to understand what we know as a research community about education for personal and social responsibility, with particular attention to students’ moral and ethical reasoning. The 2012 publication Promising Practices for Personal and Social Responsibility: Findings from a National Research Collaborative was based on findings from the Research and Educational Change Collaborative.


The major goals of the Collaborative were to:

  • examine key national/multi-institutional data related to educating students for personal and social responsibility and identify major findings, trends, and themes, as well as gaps in the current knowledge base;

  • explore what is known about the origins of students’ values, how students navigate challenges to those values in college as they are exposed to differing perspectives, and what educational practices help students align moral and ethical beliefs and behavior;

  • identify complementary scales/items among existing instruments as well as gaps across them, and thus enhance our understanding of the tools available broadly to assess education for personal and social responsibility; and

  • raise the prominence of findings related to personal and social responsibility, both in reporting to campuses and to the general public and begin to close the gaps identified through the conversations and analyses.


Alexander and Helen Astin, Co-Principal Investigators, Spirituality in Higher Education: A National Study of College Students’ Search for Meaning and Purpose. Bio and Description of Research.

Muriel Bebeau, Director, Center for the Study of Ethical Development, overseen by the University of Minnesota and the University of Alabama, which houses the nationally used Defining Issues Test (DIT-2). 

Charles Blaich, Director of Inquiries, Center of Inquiry in the Liberal Arts, Wabash College, which houses the Wabash National Study of Liberal Arts Education.

Ashley Finley, National Evaluator, Bringing Theory to Practice Initiative; Program Director of Assessment for Learning, AAC&U.

Teresa Fishman, Director, Center for Academic Integrity, Rutland Institute for Ethics at Clemson University, also funded by the Templeton Foundation. CAI houses the Academic Integrity Assessment Guide, which includes survey instruments for students and faculty.

Sylvia Hurtado, Director, Higher Education Research Institute, University of California, Los Angeles.  HERI is the home of the Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP), which houses the Freshman Survey, Your First College Year survey, the College Senior Survey, and the HERI Faculty Survey.

L. Lee Knefelkamp, Director of Dialogue and Assessment, Core Commitments: Educating Students for Personal and Social Responsibility and Senior Scholar, AAC&U; Professor of Psychology and Education, Teachers College, Columbia University.

Alexander C. McCormick, Director, National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research.