Ana Carolina Messias Shinoda
Doctorate – Development of Student’s Life Purpose in Higher Education in Business Management
Advisor: Prof. Dr. Hamilton Luiz Correa
Comission: Profs. Drs. Marlei Pozzebon, Janette Brunstein Gorodscy and Viviane Potenza G. Pinheiro Fonseca
Class: 217, FEA-5
A person's life purpose is developed and modified throughout life, but it is during youth that one of its most important stages happens, as the process of personal identity formation occurs (Bronk, 2011; Erikson, 1976). Although studies in this field reveal several benefits of having a purpose – such as greater psychological, physical and social well-being, feelings of gratitude, empathy and hope, increased longevity, and reduced stress, anxiety and depression - few young people can identify their life purpose (Damon, 2008). Education is pointed as an important space to support young people in this process of purpose development (Damon, 2008; Koshy & Mariano, 2011; Malin, 2008). However, limited research has been devoted to how purpose is discovered or how it is pursued over time (Bronk, 2014, p. 91) and it is in this direction that this thesis aims to contribute. Thus, the research question of this study is “how can students’ life purpose be developed during their higher education?”. The context of the research development was the Brazilian higher education in Business Management. Considering the diversity of career options that students have in this area, increasing clarity about their life purpose can help them make a coherent career choice. The research was conducted in two business schools – FEA/USP and Centro Universitário FEI – in which interventions aimed at the development of the student’s life purpose were promoted. A Mixed Research Approach was used, as it was considered important not only to understand the purpose development process (qualitative aspect), but also to measure it (quantitative aspect). This was conducted through a combination of methods including survey, experiment, intervention and focus group. The research results were: (1) a correlation was identified between sense of purpose and student’s career decision self-efficacy, (2) a theoretical model of life purpose development was built, (3) A method for its development in Higher Education was proposed, (4) it was identified that the interventions contributed to the increase in the students' sense of purpose, (5) influencing factors of the development process were identified, (6) it was understood how purpose developed after the interventions and (7) were suggested ways for Institutions of Higher Education in Business Management to promote the purpose of their students. This research is expected to make contributions to the field of youth purpose development as well as to Higher Education in Business Management.
*Abstract provided by the author