Developing and Assessing Respect for Human Dignity in College Students




scientist-educator model, respect for human dignity, assessment, learning outcomes


Academic institutions are now expected to engage in developing and assessing learning outcomes; however, responsibility outcomes, such as respect for human dignity (RFHD), can be particularly challenging. As part of our Biopsychology course and Sensation and Perception course over the past decade, we applied the scientist-educator model of learning and drew from the literature on prejudice reduction to develop our RFHD interventions, which involved face-to-face interactions with others who had sensory deficits or brain/spinal cord injuries. We iteratively created two pre-post measures to assess development of different aspects of RFHD: a Behavioral Tendencies Questionnaire and a 4-Factor RFHD Model Questionnaire. Recently, we modified the intervention and the assessments for adoption in our Class, Race, and Ethnicity in Society course. This paper reports findings from these three courses and a control course in engineering (n = 153). Findings support our two sets of hypotheses, regarding 1) the efficacy of the assessments to capture different likelihoods for interacting with others targeted by the interventions and changes over time in these factors, and 2) positive effects of the face-to-face intervention activities. This study demonstrates RFHD can be developed and assessed in a college course and provides new assessments for RFHD that are easily modified for a variety of types of others (e.g., individuals who are homeless versus blind or of a particular race).

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Author Biographies

Lauren F. V. Scharff, US Air Force Academy

Lauren Scharff is the director of the scholarship of teaching and learning program and a professor of behavioral sciences at the US Air Force Academy (USA).

Michelle A. Butler Samuels, US Air Force Academy

Michelle Butler Samuels is a professor of behavioral sciences at the US Air Force Academy (USA).


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As student wearing camoflauge military gear and a blind-fold kneels in a basketball court with her arms outstreched searching for the ball.




How to Cite

Scharff, Lauren F. V., and Michelle A. Butler Samuels. 2023. “Developing and Assessing Respect for Human Dignity in College Students”. Teaching and Learning Inquiry 11 (April).