Values in Students of Higher Education


The values of students occupy a central position in the cognitive system and on student’s personality, because it includes components of knowledge, affective and behavioural, determining their attitudes and motivations. In order to respond to the question “what are the values in students of higher education”, we have done a review of literature indexed in databases online, getting 23 articles published between 2008/2017. The reflection on the values of a student is of extreme importance to the educational system, due to the relationship between education and human values, resetting or recapturing the true role of the school in the formation of values. The results show that through the school it is possible to construct and develop human values in students, making it a place for this construction, without neglecting the importance of family. With the heterogeneity of methodologies of the studies, we suggest the development of more homogeneous research, materials and methods to evaluate the values of University students.

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de Agrela Gonçalves Jardim, M. , da Silva Junior, G. and Alves, M. (2017) Values in Students of Higher Education. Creative Education, 8, 1682-1693. doi: 10.4236/ce.2017.810114.

1. Introduction

The values are guiding criteria of our choices, our inclinations and ultimately can materialize either in formation of our personality or in our decision-making. Therefore, we believe the values as judgments of truth, having a universal character. Being conveniently spiritual in nature and not sensitive, we take the concept of value as everything that is object of the evaluation and is seen as significant to someone.

A value is understood as a belief that belongs to desirable purposes or forms of behaviour that transcends the specific situations, which guide the selection or evaluation of behaviour, persons and events and that is organized by your relative importance to other values to form a system of priorities of values (Schwartz, 2006) .

Identifying two main functions of the values, we can define as motivator (materialist or humanitarian law) and guidance (personal, social or central). The combination of such functions makes it possible to derive sub-functions that explain the psychosocial organization (structure) of human value. Such sub-func- tions are―Personal Values psychosocial: Experimental Values (emotion, stimulation, pleasure and sex), and values of realization (self-direction, success, power and prestige); Core values such as: Existence values (personal stability, health and survival) and Supra Individual Values (beauty, knowledge, social justice and maturity); Social values such as: Regulatory Values (obedience, social order, religion and tradition), and Interactional Values (affectivity, social support, and honesty) (Gouveia, 2008) .

Based on these attributes the author has established a set of twenty-four basic values, terming them of basic human values―Survival; Sexual; Pleasure; Stimulation; Emotion; Personal Stability; Health; Religiosity; Social Support; Social Order; Affectivity; Coexistence; Success; Prestige; Power; Maturity; Auto direction; Privacy; Social Justice; Honesty; Tradition; Obedience; Knowledge and Beauty.

To mention that human values reflect the personality of the people and are the expression of the cultural, moral, affective, social and spiritual transmitted by the family, the school, social peer, by the institutions and the society in which they live, we must think of an education geared to meet the requirements imposed by these instances (Saviani, 2002) .

The school is the first social space that is presented to the child after the family experience, and is basically the first scenario in which the child learns to be subject in life. To assume the role of social space, the University becomes one of the most important Institutions in the transmission of values, legitimized by society, coming soon after the family and the Church, privileged space of democratization and construction of citizenship (Marques, 2007) . The school culture is not only the skill-set of determinants myths, behaviors, traditions, innovations and social relations, but also an ideological and scientific variable dependent on the general culture. In this way, the school can be pointed to as a crossing of cultures (Silva, 2006) , that is, as a place of cultural intervention between the meanings, feelings and behaviours of the population and the development of future generations.

In a society in transformation, as this in the 21st century, education in values is crucial to the formation of the subject future and their future. And, as what we see today is a profound crisis of values, educating in values arises as a permanent requirement, caused by the culture of modernity that presents an urgent need for an education geared toward the teaching of moral values. The global ecological calamity is adverse and incompatible between rich/poor, consumerism/ savings, fanaticism/atheism, apathy/agitation, unemployment/dubious occupations, placing the young university students in a dilemma, risking to destroy nature and be themselves victims of this degradation, expressing insecurity, anger, aggression, anxiety, depression and even some suicidal ideations and self-muti- lation, calling into question to your own life.

2. Methodological Design

This research based on a systematic review of the literature with narrative summary. Was made exclusively in online databases, including EBSCOhost (Medline, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Psychology and Behavioural Sciences Collection, EJS E-Journals, British Nursing Index), SciELO and RCAAP (open access Scientific Repository of Portugal). As inclusion criteria we consider articles reported to the period between 2008 and 2017, in full-text, and about the values of University students. Were deleted articles that not reported the investigation around the theme under study.

The research resulted in 279 articles, being 110 articles on EBSCOhost, 8 on SciELO and 161 in RCAAP, by Key words: values, students, University. Some articles were common to databases and after a full reading of these were selected twenty-three studies for systematic review. The rest have been removed for not meeting the inclusion criteria (Figure 1).

For the analysis and synthesis of selected articles was conducted a summary table contemplating various information extracted from them and then a descriptive analysis of the results.

Figure 1. Design of reduction.

3. Results

The synopsis of the articles and selected studies are described, in Table 1, according to the year of publication, study goals, type of study, methods, results and sample.

Table 1. General characterization of the articles reviewed.

In relation to the year of publication, has identified the prevalence of studies published in 2014 and 2015 with 4 articles each year and, then, were the years of 2008, 2011, 2012 and 2016 with 3 articles each year. An article was published in the years 2009, 2010 and 2013. It was observed that the values inherent to college students present a limited number of research, although with some concern over the past fifteen years, which could be supposed to be due to the international crisis.

Methodologically it was found that most studies are quantitative. Data collection instruments, the most commonly used was the questionnaire. Similarly, we observe the use of qualitative methods in seven studies. Only two articles used a mixed methodology, qualitative and quantitative.

Through the analysis of the results of the studies selected, we categorize them according to the recommended values, particularly subtypes in values of experimentation, of accomplishment, of existence, super personal, interactional and normative values (Gouveia, 2008) .

Experimental values are associated with the values of life and are positively related to satisfaction with life and with self-compassion (p < 0.05) (Fernandes, 2012) . The main values related to this type were hedonism, self-direction (Teixeira, 2011) , emotional value (Jarrar, 2013) , promoting the construction of moral personalities, with the promotion of role from experience, the discussion and the confrontation of social moral conflicts (Novak, 2008) . The value of hedonism was referenced as a prized value in third world countries (Lins, 2010) . In this type of value was mentioned that men appreciate the excitement, fun and pleasure of life (8.17), related to the amusement, leisure and recreational activities (Costa, 2008) . Also we found that the prevalence of suicidal ideations is 10.7% as referred to give little sense to life (Pereira & Cardoso, 2015) .

There are studies that emphasize the values of accomplishment (Rosa et al., 2014) reporting the sense of accomplishment (7.95) and self-realization (7.76) (Costa, 2008) , and demonstrate positive relations between values, auto concepts and future employment (Sagone & Caroli, 2014) . Mention that the safety factors, success, work environment and relations with social pairs are most important to the students of tourism. In addition, there are significant differences by age, gender, type of department and class differences, based on some dimensions of the value of work of students (Koroglu & Gezen, 2014) . Studies have reported positive correlation between the sense of accomplishment and self-respect (r = 0.625, p < 0.01), between the self-respect and safety (r = 0.560, p < 0.01), between the sense of accomplishment and self-actualization (r = 0.546, p < 0.01) and between the warm relations with others and excitement (r = 0.516, p < 0.01) (Costa, 2008) . We found that the female gives priority to self-actualization linked to personal realisation and professional (Costa, 2008) and both sexes appreciate the realization (11.47) (Almeida & Tavares, 2009) . Another study indicates the power with 0.4%, preceded the have money with 6.4% (Cruz, 2011) , having people human values as contentious, dramatic, accurate and open (Park & Kim, 2008) . Another author reveals that Italians attach greater prestigious intellectual jobs and that Africans favour more the practical work/manuals, affecting friendship (Falanga, Caroli, & Sagone, 2014) .

With regard to existence values, the values of life are positively associated with the well-being and mental health (p < 0.05) (Fernandes, 2012) reporting 5.1% for mental values, revealing the values with the care of the body and the right to life (Jarrar, 2013) .

As regards the above personal values were reported humility (12.80) (Almeida & Tavares, 2009) , dignity (16%) (Cruz, 2011) , conformity, benevolence, security (Miguel, 2015) , self-respect (Rosa et al., 2014) , honesty (30.4%), feeling of guilt (25.3%), altruism (9.1%) and the capacity of negotiation (56.4%) (Jarrar, 2013) . The five qualities listed as important to the student were responsibility (89%), be tolerant and respect others (88%), good manners (81%), worker (54.6%), determined and perseverance (49.6%), equality and not be selfish (49.4%) (Pires, 2012) . The responsibility is a value reported by various authors, showing 11.65 results for this value (Almeida & Tavares, 2009) , and this is higher than in the public universities, but the fact of the worker is higher than private institutions (Pires, 2012) . Another author mentions the responsibility, commitment, persistence and trust in themselves, hope to have a promising future, to accomplish their goals, crowned with strong feelings from their experiences, understanding the entrepreneurship as a form of social development (Carvalho, 2016) . Personal values are predictors of individual behaviour and decision-making that could have an impact on the college experience and satisfaction with the learning environment (Arambewela & John, 2011) . First world countries were associated individual development values and materialism (Lins, 2010) . The male values more responsibility (12.43), independence (11.49) and the imagination (Pires, 2012) and female literacy prevails the responsibility (13.03), independence (11.74) (Almeida & Tavares 2009) , tolerance, respect, obedience (Pires, 2012) , security and self-respect (Rosa et al., 2014) .

With regard to the interactive values, the highest are, be respected (8.24), safely (7.83) (Costa, 2008) , dialogue, solidarity, equality and participation (Novak, 2008) . The lower rating, but still positive, were warm relations with others (6.63), sense of belonging (6.21), excitement (5.96) (Costa, 2008) . In this type of value is appreciated the concern with the environment (11.61) and with the other (11.49), loyalty to family and group (11.45) (Almeida & Tavares, 2009) , relationship (Rosa et al., 2014) and be available to give his life on behalf of others or of values (86.5%) (Cruz, 2011) . Pointed to the friendship (32.0%) and intelligence (35.0%) as the most value considered by their peers around 40.0% indicated as a reason the fact provide adaptation to a new reality distant of family members (Silva, 2015) . Other authors elect the family as a generator for your motivation and in the construction of their ways, setting out to conquer your dreams and wishes (Carvalho, 2016) , point 14.5% for the social value, 7.8% to the biological, 74% the economic situation of the family as an important factor in moral education, 24.3% believed that the most important role in education is due to family, 23% to the media (media), 7.1% to schools and 2% to the University (Jarrar, 2013) . Social exclusion is reported as a multidimensional concept, reflects a combination of interrelated factors with the potential to prevent people from full participation in society. By conducting a principal components analysis, ten factors are included on legitimacy/legality, social relationship, quality of accommodation, facilities, extracurricular activities, accessibility, safety, comfort, academic services (Sedaghatnia et al., 2015) . College student’s political consumers enhance against transcendence, equality, concern and well-being on the other (Teixeira, 2011) and the Asian students are more individualistic, uncommunicative and interpersonal sensitivity in relation to European Americans (Park & Kim, 2008) . There’s that valuing the importance of the guidance and constant support of culturally different students for social integration, academic, achievement of autonomy and interpersonal relationships. Male students value the concern with the environment (11.42) and females consider concern for others (11.84) and with the environment (11.73) (Almeida & Tavares, 2009) .

The normative value is mentioned the importance of religion (16.6% and 60.5%) (Jarrar, 2013; Cruz, 2011) and spirituality (p = 0.03) (28.7%) (Jarrar, 2013; Almeida & Tavares, 2009) . The results show that there are differences of meaning between epistemological beliefs of college students and their colleges, departments, family education, socio-economic level, religiosity and reading habits (Ulucinar et al., 2012) . In contrast, third world countries were related values of social justice, professional development, and religiosity (Lins, 2010) . Report that there is no moral crisis in society and that the most important role in education is due to develop a spirit of subordination of the moral system (57.4%), of conscience and morals (35.1%), development of a spirit of brotherhood (4.1%) and development of the spirit of the well (2%). Students value the individual harmony and depreciate the public duties (Silva, 2015) . We found that students with less than five semesters feature greater obedience to students with more than six semesters (p < 0.02) (Parra, 2014) .

4. Discussion

The results described above emphasize the current need to increase the empirical evidence, as well as to make known the values associated with the students.

We found that the values of experimentation they invoke enjoy emotions, pleasure, being a personal orientation and the value of the achievement report the power, prestige and success as a result of their studies and goals for the future. This last value student highlights the realization, self-realization, self-re- spect and safety.

With regard to existential values, college students made reference to the values of life and the meanings attributed to this, as well as the well-being and mental health.

However, most studies in this systematic review enhance individual and interactional values. In the first report the knowledge and maturity of University students, making reference to responsibility, respect, tolerance and independence, as well as to the dignity, individual attitudes and behaviours based on personal values. Still we find other authors who report confidence and hope for a promising future. As for interactive values, college students prioritize the affection, relationships and society support in achieving their goals. In these, students report solidarity, dialogue, respect and concern/respect for others and the environment. Mention the interpersonal relationship to society and the family, as well as loyalty and well-being with these.

Nevertheless, the students mention the spiritual values/religiosity, referring to the beliefs, moral crises, development of the well inspirations and individual harmony.

5. Conclusion

Reflection on the ability of these same values has in the formation of a full citizen, and is ready to live in society and of great importance for the implications in the training of young students. The trajectory of this study had as initial focus the unrest we understand the design of the students, about the construction process of human values in everyday life of the school, analysing whether it is possible to exist this construction and development. To this end, some conclusions may serve as a starting point for new studies and personal investigations and other researchers who are interested in the subject.

Education is not the same as teaching content. At present the school has on your responsibility much more than simply administer and transmitting knowledge, having in itself the function of forming social individuals along with the family. To educate is to form the full set of attributes that generates a complete and quality education where they can’t miss the construction and development of solid human moral and ethical values.

One of his contributions is the emphasis on care practice as interpersonal, based on factors that result in the satisfaction of human needs, promoting health and individual and family growth, as well as in understanding the environment as favouring personal development and integrated biophysical and human behavioral knowledge.

Finally, and still on the basis of the results obtained, we also suggest the development of more research to give a greater empirical consistency to this theme, our college students, and so contribute to the practice/teaching excellence based on evidence. In this context, the author currently is developing a survey where the primary goal is aimed at identifying the values of a representative sample of students from Madeira, Portugal.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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