Scholarly article on topic 'Axiological Tensions and Options in the Romanian Academic Environment: Intergenerational Comparative Study'

Axiological Tensions and Options in the Romanian Academic Environment: Intergenerational Comparative Study Academic research paper on "Economics and business"

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Abstract of research paper on Economics and business, author of scientific article — Gabriel Albu, Venera-Mihaela Cojocariu

Abstract This study aims at comparing the value systems of the two generations of professors, from 2 Romanian universities, in order to identify the shared nucleus of values guiding their present activity. These would be incorporated into the initial and continuous teacher training curriculum. The qualitative research involved the application of an open-ended items questionnaire. We shall attempt to systematize: the categories of values held by the investigated professors; their weight and the relations among them; values shared by the two distinct axiological sets and also the distinct values; axiological tensions between the value options of the categories of investigated professors.

Academic research paper on topic "Axiological Tensions and Options in the Romanian Academic Environment: Intergenerational Comparative Study"

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Procedía - Social and Behavioral Sciences 171 (2015) 24 - 33

ICEEPSY 2014

Axiological Tensions and Options in the Romanian Academic Environment: Intergenerational Comparative Study

Gabriel Albu a, Venera-Mihaela Cojocariu b*

a"Petroleum-Gas" University of Ploie§ti, Faculty of Letters and Sciences, Bdul Bucuresti, nr. 39, Ploiesti, 100680, Romania b"Vasile Alecsandri" University of Bacäu, Department of Teacher Training, Märä§e§ti Street nr. 157, Bacäu, 600115, Romania

Abstract

This study aims at comparing the value systems of the two generations of professors, from 2 Romanian universities, in order to identify the shared nucleus of values guiding their present activity. These would be incorporated into the initial and continuous teacher training curriculum. The qualitative research involved the application of an open-ended items questionnaire. We shall attempt to systematize: the categories of values held by the investigated professors; their weight and the relations among them; values shared by the two distinct axiological sets and also the distinct values; axiological tensions between the value options of the categories of investigated professors.

© 2015Publishedby ElsevierLtd.This isanopenaccess article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.Org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

Peer-review under responsibility of the Organizing Committee of ICEEPSY 2014. Keywords: values; attitudes; motivation; university professors; students

1. Dimensions and axiological dilemmas in the academic environment ... Where to?

Lately, a constant priority of evaluating higher educational institutions is quality. Its managers are looking for the best formulas and standards to increase the graduates' level of professional performance. The most important element of complying with the standards of academic quality is the teacher. He is not only a mere sender of knowledge of utmost quality and a tireless researcher in his field, but also a universe of values, beliefs and life principles. Each teacher has, besides a complex baggage of knowledge, an axiological compass (Gardner, 2012) in relation to which he regulates, orients and controls his attitudes and relationships. It motivates him to do certain things or determine him to refrain himself from others (Rescher, 2001). Therefore, we cannot restrain the professor's influence upon the student only to the cognitive field, but it is also significantly exercised in the axiological field of values. Studying this segment of influences can be even more interesting, given the different

Corresponding Author name Venera-Mihaela Cojocariu. Tel.: +4-074-706-6462 E-mail address: venera_1962@yahoo.com

1877-0428 © 2015 Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.Org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

Peer-review under responsibility of the Organizing Committee of ICEEPSY 2014. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2015.01.084

periods of teachers' training, their different culture and, in the case of our study, even the values predominating in the society in which they were formed. The student is already a relatively formed adult, who enjoys the freedom of taking and internalizing in his acquisition system those elements which he finds in the academic environment and are felt like having a strong impact. The axiological influences from the academic environment are strong, multiple, sometimes even divergent, triggering inner conflicts and the necessity of certain personal options which may prove relevant on the long term.

2. How we proceeded

In its third stage, the study aims at comparing the values that senior and junior professors from the Romanian academic environment believe in. Following the two studies conducted successively in 2012 and presented at two prestigious conferences (Albu, G.&Cojocariu, V.-M., 2012; Cojocariu, V.-M. & Albu, G., 2013), the present study aims at analyzing, by the "mirror" technique, the representative values obtained for the two categories of professors (56 academic professors with more than 20 years of experience, respectively 56 professors with less than 15 years of experience). We aim at comparatively presenting and analyzing the two groups of investigated professors, the values which organize their lives, support their relationships with their students and which, implicitly and/or explicitly, are handed down to the younger generations. Of great interest is, for us, the identification of a possible axiological tension between the two groups of professors, taking into account the fact that they are the product of distinct historical training periods, before 1989, respectively before the fall of the communist regime and after 1990, respectively the establishment of the democratic Romanian society, being almost entirely the moral and professional product of a society undergoing change from all points of view and attempting to recover the values of a democratic society. We appreciate like a relevant aspect of the study the possibility to investigate, for the two groups of ages involved in the research, the values whose carriers they are and which they promote through their entire activity.

The research involved 112 subjects: 2 groups of 56 professors from "Petrol Gaze" University of Ploie^ti (UPG) and "Vasile Alecsandri" University of Bacau (UVA), Romania. The structure of the group was the following: women: 56 (28 from each university for the real/engineering sciences, half of them with maximum professional experience, half of them with less than 15 years of experience; 28 from each university for the socio-human profile, the same as above); men: 56 (28 from each university for the real/engineering sciences, half with maximum experience and half with less than 15 years of experience; 28 from each university for the socio-human profile, the same as above).

The qualitative research was conducted simultaneously in the two university centers, during March-May 2012 and September-October 2012. We have applied, on each occasion, the same questionnaire that we realized and validated, which contained items with open-ended answers. For the items which required the hierarchization of the respondents' options, the score for each value was established as follows: 3 points for the value from the first position, 2 points for the value from the second position, 1 point for the value from the third position.

Based on the data from previous studies, we shall attempt to systematize: the categories of values appreciated by the investigated professors; their percentage and the relations between them; the values shared by the two axiological sets and the unshared values; axiological tensions between the value options of professors.

3. The results we obtained

The comparative analysis of the questionnaire answers generated 8 sets of data, corresponding to each item, which we have systematized and presented successively (except item 6) in tables and figures, corresponding to the two categories of experience of the investigated professors (UVA shall further designate "Vasile Alecsandri" University of Bacau and UPG shall further designate "Petrol §i Gaze" University of Ploie^ti).

Gabriel Albu and Venera-Mihaela Cojocariu / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 171 (2015) 24 - 33 Table 1. Synthesis of the first three values in which university professors believe (item 1)

Experience Rank I values/score

Rank II values/score

Rank III values/score

Below 15 years

Above 20 years

Fairness, 19 p.

Morality, 61 p Morality, 61 p

Morality, 144 p.

Honesty, 40 p.

Respect, 13 p. Work

perseverance, 13 p.

Morality (fairness, Love for respect, altruism), people, 18 p. 43 p.

Morality, 83 p. Love for

people, 18 p.

Professional competence, 15 P-

Professional

competence, 15 p-

Love for people, 18 p.

Faith in God, 8 p.

Respect, 9 p.

Honor, integrity, Work, education, Faith in God, 9 dignity, 11 p. learning, 8 p. p.

Work, education, Respect,

learning, 8 p.

Faith in God, 8 p

Faith in God, 9 p.

Faith in God, 17 p.

According to Table 1, at the level of the group, the values which the university professors believe in most are morality 144p., love for people, 18p. and, with very similar scores, faith in God, 17p. Highly relevant are the convergence and the predominance of the 1st rank value (morality) with a very high score, 144p., the highest score obtained throughout the study. It also expresses, for the senior and junior professors from both universities, the cherishing of/need for this moral fundamental reference point. The predominating 2nd rank value is, according to UVA, love for people, 18p., essential for the formative activity. The highly appreciated 3rd rank value is faith in God, 17p., also a moral reference point. No axiological tensions are visible between the value options of the categories of investigated professors. Even when these are not shared by the age groups (e.g. the UVA senior professors' 2nd rank value, love for people), they are in perfect agreement with the shared 1st and 3rd rank values.

Table 2. Synthesis of values which professors consider most in relation to their work (item 2)

Experience Rank I values/score

Rank II values/score

Rank III values/score

Below 15 years Above 20 years

Professionalism, 7 p.

Professionalism, 6 p.

Professionalism, 8 p.

Professionalism, 6 p.

Professionalism, 27 p.

Responsibility, 6 p.

Work quality, 4 p.

Work quality, 9p. Responsibility, 6 p.

UPG Fairness,

Work quality,

Perseverance, 3 p.

Responsibility, 3 p.

Desire for self-improvement, 3 p.

Meticulosity, 2 p.

Desire for self-improvement, 3 p. Responsibility, 3 p. Perseverance, 3p.

According to Table 2, at the level of the entire group, the values which professors consider in relation to their work are professionalism, 27p., work quality, 9p. and desire for self-improvement, perseverance and responsibility, 3p. each. It is relevant the fact that the value of professionalism cumulates the options of all the categories of teachers from both universities, being a unanimously shared axiological reference point, relevant for academic activity. The scores cumulated for the 2nd and 3rd rank values are quite low, pointing to a fragmentation

of options, respectively expressing quite numerous and different opinions of professors. There are no visible axiological tensions between the value options of the categories of investigated professors.

Table 3. Synthesis of the values regarded as most important for the activity of a university professor (item 3)

Experience Rank I values/score

Rank II values/score

Rank III values/score

Below 15 years

Above 20 years

Passion, 4 p. Fairness,

Continuous 4 p.

professional self-improvement, 2 p.

Professional Professional

competence, 9p. competence, 5p.

Professional competence, 14 p.

Fairness, 3 p.

Responsibility, 3 p.

Honesty, 3 p.

Responsibility, 3 p.

Professionalism, 3 p.

Students' appreciation, 4 p.

Students' appreciation, 4 p.

Dignity, 2 p. Work, 2 p. Honesty, 2 p.

Responsibility, 2 p.

Dignity, 4 p.

Dignity, 2 p.

Fairness, 2 p.

According to Table 3, at the level of the entire group, the values appreciated by professors as the most important for their activity are professional competence, 14p., the students' appreciation, 4p., and dignity, 4p. We appreciate as interesting the ways in which the values shared by the various age groups complete and complementarize each other. Whereas the 1st rank value, professional competence, is appreciated by the experienced professors from both universities, the 3rd rank value, dignity, is appreciated by the junior professors from both universities. It is also useful to highlight the interest of the experienced professors from UPG in how they are appreciated by students, an axiological vector turned into a 2nd rank value. There are no axiological tensions between the value options of the categories of professors, on the contrary, the values rendered as representative, irrespective of the age of the professors who expressed them, are in full harmony and coherence.

Table 4. The synthesis of today's most dangerous counter values according to university professors (item 4)

Experience Rank I values/score

Rank II values/score

Rank III values/score

Below 15 years

Above 20 years

Lying (Truth), 30 p.

Lying, 10 p. Lying, 122 p.

Lying, (Truth),

Lying, 42 p.

Ignorance, 15 p.

Superficiality, 9 p.

Incompetence/

superficiality,

Superficiality, 14 p.

Superficiality, ignorance, 62 p.

Incompetence/ Money

superficiality, 7p. (Financial

success ) 22 p.

Promotion of non- Self-

values, 5 p. sufficiency, 5

Money (financial success), 22 p.

According to Table 4, at the level of the entire group, the counter values incriminated by the professors as most dangerous are lying, 122p., ignorance, superficiality, 62p. and money (financial success), 22p. We noticed the major moral reaction of rejecting lies of all the categories of professors from both universities, with a very high score, this counter value obtaining the second score at the level of the study. The incriminated counter value may be converted into the opposed value, honesty (truth), respectively the so much cherished morality. The 2nd rank counter value, ignorance, superficiality cumulates a very high percentage, 62p., showing its repudiation by all the professors investigated. Whereas the 1st and 2nd rank counter values are shared by all the professors, the 3rd

rank counter value is incriminated, with a high score, only by the junior professors from UPG, with a high score. Of course, financial success is blamed only to the extent in which it becomes a purpose in itself, and the means of obtaining it are not always moral or humanistic. There are no major axiological tensions between the value options of the categories of investigated professors. The high score of the incrimination of financial success by the junior professors from UPG builds only certain connections with the other rejected counter values, lying, superficiality and ignorance, which are interpreted as being in a relation of interdependence and convergence.

Table 5. Synthesis of fundamental values characteristic of higher education according to university professors (item 5)

Experience Rank I values/score Rank II values/score Rank III values/score

UVA UPG UVA UPG UVA UPG

Below 15 years Professionalism, 9 p. Responsibility, 30 p. Dignity, 5 p. Professionalism, 19 p. Fairness, 4 p. Knowledge, 7 p.

Above 20 years Fairness, 22 p. Respect, 33 p. Truth, 10 p. Professionalism, 29 p. Work, 9 p. Work, 15 p.

Respect, 33 p. Professionalism, 48 p. Work, 24 p.

Table 5 shows that, at the level of the entire group, the values characteristic of higher education are respect, 33p., professionalism, 48p. and work, 24p. We appreciate the novel and complementary way in which the three dominant values are constituted. Combining the horizontal analysis of the data from Table 5 with the vertical one, we find the following: the 1st rank value, respect, is supported by the experienced professors from UPG; the 2nd rank value, professionalism, is dominant for all the professors from UPG, both juniors and seniors (although there were options for professionalism from the junior professors from UVA, but as a 1st rank value); the 3rd rank value, work, is appreciated only by the senior professors, from both universities. The triad respect-professionalism-work shows that there are no axiological tensions between the professor's options, on the contrary, the values rendered as representative support each other mutually, irrespective of the professors' age.

Table 6. Synthesis of the value which would save the world according to the university professors (item 7)

Experience Rank I values/score

Rank II values/score

Rank III values/score

Below 15 years

Above 20 years

Faith in God, 11p.

Love for people, 6 p.

Faith in God, 11 p.

Love (for people), 11 p.

Faith in God, 6p.

Love (for people), 11 p.

Faith in God, 11p. Love (for people), 11 p.

Love (for people), 4 p.

Work, 3 p.

Truth, 3p.

Love (for people), 4 p.

Faith in God, 4 p.

Responsibility, 3 p.

Faith in God, 4 p.

Faith in God, 4 p. Love (for people), 4 p.

Fairness,

2 p., Scientific knowledge, 2 p.

Fairness, 2 p.

Fairness, 4 p., Scientific knowledge, 2 p.

Fairness, 4 p.

Education, 3 p.

Work, 2 p. Fairness, 2p. Education, 3 p.

According to Table 6, at the level of the entire group, the value which would save the world is hierarchized as follows: rank I - faith in God and love for people, with equal scores, 11p. each; rank II - also faith in God and love for people, with equal scores, 4p. each; rank III - fairness, 4p. The consistency and

coherence with which the 1st rank value is constituted is interesting. The junior professors from UVA are convergent in their options with the senior professors from UPG and vice-versa. Concerning the 2nd rank value, it is the only case in which the same value occurs, successively, as both 1st and 2nd rank value. We may notice the equal hope of professors in saving humankind by the involvement of divinity (an aspect characteristic of Romanian culture!) and the optimization of people's mutual feelings. There are no axiological tensions between the value options of the categories of investigated professors.

Table 7. Synthesis of the values regarded as necessary for the future society according to future university professors (item 8)

Experience Rank I values/score

Rank II values/score

Rank III values/score

Below 15 years Above 20 years

Faith in God, 14 p.

Professionalism, 11 p.

Faith in God, 14 p.

Responsibility, 22 p.

Responsibility, 22 p.

Morality, 20 p.

Responsibility, 22 p.

Respect, 12 p.

Freedom, 8 p.

Respect, 12 p. Generosity, 14 p.

Love (for people), 12 p.

Generosity, 14 p.

Generosity, 14 p.

Professionalism, 11 p.

Morality, 7 p.

Professionalism, 11 p.

Kindness, 9 p.

Professionalism, 11 p.

Professionalism, 11 p.

Professionalism, 22 p.

Table 7 shows that, at the level of the entire group, the values regarded as necessary for the future society are responsibility, 22 p., generosity, 4p., and professionalism, 22p. Again, it is visible the complementary way in which professors of different ages appreciate values. Whereas the 1st rank value, responsibility, is imposed by the junior professors from UPG, the 2nd rank value, generosity, is, this time, imposed by the senior professors from UPG. At the same time, the 3rd rank value, professionalism, is promoted, with equal scores, 11p., by the junior professors from UVA and the senior professors from UPG. The values thus hierarchized indicate a good complementarity between the axiological options of the categories of investigated professors.

4. What is the relevance of the data obtained?

The summation and synthesis of the data obtained from the comparative analysis generated 3 sets of data:

Table 8. Data synthesis (comparison between the two universities) obtained for professors with more than 20 years of experience

RANK 1 RANK 2 RANK 3

UVA UPG UVA UPG UVA UPG

Professionalism, Morality, 63 p. Love for people, Professionalism, 29 Work, 17 p. Work, 17 p.

26 p. Respect, 33 p. 18 p. p. Morality, 7 p. Professionali

Morality, 61 p. Truth, 13 p. Superficiality, 14 p. sm, 11 p.

Generosity, 14 p.

Morality, 124 p. Professionalism, 29 p Work, 34 p.

Respect, 33 p. Love for people, 18 p. Professionalism, 11 p.

Gabriel Albu and Venera-Mihaela Cojocariu / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 171 (2015) 24 - 33 Figure 1. Graphical representation of the hierarchy of values obtained by professors with more than 20 years of experience

■ Morality

_ ■ Respect

■ Professionalism

■ Love for people

-J,- ■ Work

fM ■ Professionalism

Rank 1 Rank 2 Rank 3

As the two systematizations of former data indicated, in terms of the senior professors' axiological system, we may find a maximum convergence for the 1st rank value (morality) with very similar scores for the two universities, 61p., respectively 63p. Professionalism is imposed by UPG as a 2nd rank value, 29p., also highly appreciated by UVA, regarded as a 1st rank value, after morality, with 26p. Work is convergently and equally appreciated by both universities as a 3rd rank value, 17p. There is a significant gap between the 1st rank value of morality and the 2nd and 3rd rank values which cannot equal it, not even together. Also, between the high score of work, a 3rd rank value, compared to the 2nd rank value of professionalism.

Table 9. Data synthesis (comparison between the two universities) obtained for professors with less than 15 years of experience

Rank I values/score Rank II values/score Rank III values/score

UVA UPG UVA UPG UVA UPG

Lying, 30 p. Fairness/ Respect, 25 p. Professional Professionalism, Money

Faith in God, 25 p. honesty, 44 p. Ignorance, 15 p. competence/ 11 p. (financial success) 22 p. Respect, 9 p.

Lying, 40 p. Professionalism, 37 p. Love (for people), 12 p. Faith in God, 8 p.

Lying (Truth),70 p. Professional competence/ Money (financial success), 22 p.

Fairness/honesty, 44 p. Professionalism, 37 p. Professionalism, 11 p.

Respect, 25 p.

Figure 2. Graphical representation of the hierarchy of values obtained by professors with less than 15 years of experience

The young professors express a relative convergence of the 1st rank value (truth) with similar scores for the two universities, 30p., respectively 40p, placed almost in the middle of the score obtained by senior professors for the 1st rank value. As a 2nd rank value, the UPG imposes professional competence, professionalism, 37p., the same 2nd rank value as in the case of senior professors, also imposed by UPG, but with a higher score, 37p. compared to 29p. For the 3rd rank, the value of financial success, money, is appreciated only by UPG, with 22p. whereas the position is given by UVA to professionalism, with half the score.

In terms of all the values promoted by the two subgroups, there is a higher convergence of values for senior professors where, among the first 3 values appreciated only two are shared (morality and work), whereas for junior professors only the 1st rank value, truth, is shared.

Table 10. Data synthesis (comparison between the two universities) obtained for all professors

RANK 1 RANK 2 RANK 3

UVA UPG UVA UPG UVA UPG

Professors with more than 20 years of

experience

Morality, 124 p. Professionalism, 29 p. Work, 34 p.

Respect, 33 p. Love for people, 18 p. Professionalism, 11 p.

Professors with less than 15 years of

experience

Lying (Truth),70 p. Professional competence/Professionalism, Money (Financial success) 22 p.

Fairness/honesty, 44 p. 37 p., Respect, 25 p. Professionalism, 11 p.

Gabriel Albu and Venera-Mihaela Cojocariu / Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 171 (2015) 24 - 33 Figure 3. Graphical representation of the hierarchy of values obtained by all the professors

■ Morality

■ Work

■ Respect

■ Professionalism

■ Love for people « Professionalism

■ Lying (Truth)

■ Fairness (Honesty)

■ Professional competence

■ Respect

■ Money (Financial success) Professionalism

experience experience

We may see that between the axiological universes of the two age groups there is a real convergence. The value of truth, appreciated by the professors with less than 15 years of experience as being of 1st rank is the undeniable expression of morality (appreciated by professors with more than 20 years of experience as being of 1st rank). Corroborating the values of truth and fairness/honesty, promoted by the junior professors among their first two options, we are nearing the level of morality, which is so much appreciated by senior professors. The value of professionalism is, for both groups, a 2nd as well as 3rd rank value (although with different scores). The 3rd rank value is different (work, respectively financial success), with a higher score for work but in axiological agreement with financial success, to the extent in which money cannot exist, within a moral perimeter, except as the product of work. There are no obvious axiological tensions.

5. Conclusions and directions for formative research and practice

Even if (and especially!) in a society generally absorbed by technology and, especially by the digital one, we cannot overlook its axiological side. Thus and always, professors have always been and will be - no matter how technologized humanity may become - not only providers of knowledge, but also senders of values and beliefs. The study has shown that: (a) irrespective of the generation, university professors have axiological references and options; (b) there is continuity in terms of their value universe, although they were trained in essentially different political-legal and economic-social periods.

It is also worth noticing the fact that the quality of a university professor is not exclusively related to the complexity and depth of his/her scientific knowledge and creation, but also the quality of his/her convictions and the values which he/she promotes, with a more or less explicit intention, to future intellectuals. We believe that this dimension of the professor's personality, as well as his/her contribution to the formation of future generations of graduates, should not be neglected or eliminated from the research on the dynamics of higher education, but on the contrary.

Professors with more than 20 years of Professors with less than 15 years of

References

Albu, G.&Cojocariu, V.-M. (2012). What do university professors (still) believe in? In Z. Bekirogullari (Ed), Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Education and Educational Psychology (ICEEPSY 2012), Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 69 ( 2012 ) 2184 - 2192.

Cojocariu, V.-M. & Albu, G. (2013). What do Young University Professors (Still) Believe in Nowadays? Paper presented to the 5thWorld Conference on Educational Sciences Sapienza University of Rome, Italy 05-08 February 2013 (selected to be published in Proceedings of the 5thWorld Conference on Educational Sciences-WCES 2013, Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences). Gardner, H. (2012). Adevarul, frumosul §i binele. Bucure^ti: Editura Sigma.

Rescher, N. (2001). Ce este valoarea? In Mure^an, V. (Ed.). Axiologie §i moralitate. Bucure^ti: Editura Punct.