Assessing the Democratic Maturity and Self-Fulfillment of 154 Air Force High School JROTC Cadets

Article excerpt

Survival in a democracy means first, that one has developed personal maturity sufficiently to compete in a financial based society, and second, is able to get along with people of different races and religions. Self-fulfillment means that one is able to gratify personal needs sufficiently to enjoy life. The two tests used in this study are designed to assess the degree to which that has occurred. Accountability in our schools is believed to be related to providing democratic maturity and self-fulfillment for all students.

A recent Air Force policy Letter by former Secretary of the Air Force, Sheila E. Widnall (1993) directed that "accountability is a central component of Air Force education," which served as the basis for the present study:

   "Accountability is a prerequisite of effective military operations.
   Further, it is essential to our ability to gain and sustain the trust of
   the American people. Consequentially, standards must be enforced and
   responsibility upheld. This sense of accountability is paramount for the
   good of the order and discipline of our force ... This message is a central
   component of Air Force education and training programs."

Accountability In Relation to Personal Development

The present study sought to assess change in JROTC students in relation to two critical areas of personal development, and which means accountability in education beyond academic subject matter areas (Cassel, 1954, 1996, and 1998a)). The first and most important element in relation to success in life in the United States is "democratic maturity," and the second, of course, has to do with personal "self-fulfillment. Two recently developed tests by Cassel and Kolstad (1998 a and b) seek to assess the two important dynamics in relation to personal development of individuals:

Democratic Maturity

The Democratic Maturity Test (DEMO) by Cassel and Kolstad (1998a) was used for this personal development area. It has 200 true/false items distributed equally (25 items) for the eight different parts. The test is based on the definition of democracy as described by John Dewey "democracy is the interdependence of independent individuals" (Cassel, 1953). The first four pan scores seek to measure "personal development" and as it pertains to independence-the ability to live by one's self; as opposed to socialism where the government is expected to provide for the individual. The second four scores seek to measure social integration, and as it relates to the interdependence of individuals--the ability to get along with others.

Self-fulfillment

The Self-fulfillment Inventory (SELF) (1998b) was used for assessment in this area. It is based on "free association" as initially described by Freud. Later Leon Festinger (1957) described free association as "cognitive dissonance" and likened it to the old family physician who would ask a sick little boy, "Where does it hurt?" The cognitive dissonance (free association) was a hurt cause by ungratified needs, and the greater the hurt, the more prevalent the ungratified needs that are present. For example, if the question asked is "Is your home warm and friendly?" and if the answer is "No." it suggests that "cognitive dissonance" (hurt) is present in the home and family area of life.

Group Involved

The group involved in this study included 154 high school youth from San Diego, California. They ranged in age from 14 to 20 year with a mean age of 16.05 and with a standard deviation of 1.03 years. Seventy of them were females, and 84 were males. There were 81 sophomores, 49 juniors, and 24 seniors. All of them were presently enrolled in Air Force JROTC.

Gender Differences

A statistical t-test was computed between the means for all part scores on both DEMO and SELF between the male and female members with findings as follows:

1. For democratic maturity, in general there was no statistically significant difference between the sexes:

a. …