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Spirituality in Higher Education: A National Study of College Students

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Title: Spirituality in Higher Education: A National Study of College Students


1
Spirituality in Higher Education A National
Study of College Students Search for Meaning and
Purpose
  • Higher Education Research Institute
  • University of California, Los Angeles
  • Funded By John Templeton Foundation

2
What is Spirituality?
  • Points to our interiors
  • Is qualitative and affective
  • Involves our values, beliefs, meaning, and
    purpose
  • Has to do with our connectedness to others and
    the world around us
  • Refers to those elements of our lives that are
    difficult to define or put into words (i.e.,
    intuition, creativity, inspiration, and the
    sacred)

3
Research Questions
  • How many students are actively searching and
    curious about spiritual issues and questions such
    as the meaning of life and work?
  • How do students view themselves in terms of
    spirituality and related qualities such as
    compassion, forgiveness, optimism, and
    generosity?
  • What spiritual/religious practices (e.g.,
    rituals, prayer/meditation, service to others)
    are students most/least attracted to?

4
Research Questions
  • How do spiritual/religious practices affect
    students academic and personal development?
  • What is the connection between traditional
    religious practices and spiritual development?
  • What in the undergraduate experience facilitates
    or hinders students spiritual/religious quest?

5
Spirituality in Higher Education Project Phases
  • Pilot Administration to 3,600 Third-Year Students
  • at 46 Institutions (Spring 2003)
  • Interviews with 85 Second-, Third-, and
    Fourth-Year Students
  • at 6 Institutions (Fall 2003)
  • Full-Scale Administration to 112,000 First-Year
    Students
  • at 236 Institutions (Fall 2004)
  • HERI Faculty Survey Administration to 65,000
    Teaching Faculty
  • at 511 Institutions (Fall 2004-Spring 2005)

6
Beliefs
  • Believe in God 79
  • My spiritual/religious beliefs have been formed
    through
  • much personal reflection and searching
  • Agree 61
  • To be truly religious, a person must accept all
    the
  • teachings of his/her faith
  • Agree 42

7
Interests and Activities
  • I have at least some interest in spirituality
    80
  • Discussed religion/spirituality at least
    occasionally
  • With friends 80
  • With family 76
  • In class 65
  • Do you pray? (Yes) 69

8
Spiritual/Religious Beliefs Indicating Agree
Somewhat or Agree Strongly
9
Feel Obligated to Follow My Parents Religious
Practices
10
Spirituality Strengthening Experiences
  • Death of close friend/family member 45
  • Events of September 11, 2001 42
  • Romantic relationship 36
  • Personal injury/illness 34
  • New ideas encountered in classes 31
  • War in Iraq 29
  • Natural disaster 24
  • Parents divorce/separation 18

11
Current Views about Religious/Spiritual Matters
12
Expectations about My Religious Beliefs
13
  • Scales

14
Spirituality a.88
  • Agree that we are all spiritual beings
    69
  • Goal Seeking out opportunities to help me
  • grow spiritually Very important or
    Essential 47
  • Goal Integrating spirituality into my life
  • Very important or Essential 41

15
Religious Engagement a.87
  • Engages at least weekly in
  • Religious singing/chanting 30
  • Reading sacred texts 27
  • Other reading on religion/spirituality 21
  • Frequently
  • Attended a religious service 42
  • Attended class/workshop/retreat on matters
  • related to religion/spirituality 14

16
Religious Commitment a.93
  • My spiritual/religious beliefs provide me with
    strength, support, and guidance
  • Agree 69
  • I find religion to be personally helpful
  • Agree 68
  • I gain spiritual strength by trusting in Higher
    Power
  • Agree 65

17
Religious/Social Conservatism
a.72
  • Abortion should be legal
  • Disagree 48
  • People who dont believe in God will be punished
  • Agree 37
  • Conception of God Father-figure
  • Agree 35

18
Religious Struggle a.75
  • Frequently
  • Struggled to understand evil, suffering, and
    death 15
  • Felt distant from God 14
  • Questioned religious/spiritual beliefs 14
  • Disagreed with family about religious matters 13
  • Felt angry with God 7

19
Religious Skepticism a.83
  • Agree Strongly or Somewhat
  • I have never felt a sense of sacredness 31
  • In the future, science will be able to explain
  • everything 31
  • The universe arose by chance 26
  • Whether or not there is a Supreme Being
  • doesnt matter to me 26

20
Ecumenical Worldview a.70
  • Love is at the root of all the great religions
  • Agree 72
  • Most people can grow spiritually without being
    religious
  • Agree 64
  • I have an interest in different religious
    traditions
  • To some or great extent 61

21
Spiritual Quest a.85
  • Very Important or Essential Personal Goals
  • Attaining wisdom 77
  • Becoming a more loving person 67
  • Improving the human condition 54
  • Attaining inner harmony 49
  • Finding answers to the mysteries of life 45
  • Developing a meaningful philosophy of life 42

22
Ethic of Caring a.79
  • Very Important or Essential goals
  • Helping others who are in difficulty 63
  • Reducing pain and suffering in the world 55
  • Becoming a community leader 31

23
Charitable Involvement a.74
  • Frequently
  • Performed volunteer work 26
  • Donated money to charity 14
  • Participated in community food or
  • clothing drives 11

24
Equanimity a.76
  • Describes Me To a Great Extent
  • Being thankful for all that has happened to me
    52
  • Feeling good about the direction in which my life
  • is headed 49
  • Seeing each day, good or bad, as a gift 40
  • Feeling a strong connection to all humanity 16

25
Compassionate Self-Concept
a.78
  • Self-rated Kindness
  • Above average 75
  • Self-rated Generosity
  • Above average 67
  • Self-rated Forgiveness
  • Above average 56

26
  • Intended Major
  • and Spirituality

27
Spirituality by Intended Major ( high scorers)
  • Highest
  • Music 39
  • Humanities 30
  • Fine Arts 25
  • Lowest
  • Computer Science 11
  • Business 13
  • Architecture 14

28
Religious Commitment by Intended Major ( high
scorers)
  • Highest
  • Humanities 32
  • Education 28
  • Health Professions 28
  • Lowest
  • Business 18
  • Undecided 19
  • Engineering 19

29
Ecumenical Worldviewby Intended Major ( high
scorers)
  • Highest
  • Humanities 25
  • Political Science 24
  • Fine Arts 21
  • Lowest
  • Agriculture 3
  • Computer Science 7
  • Engineering 8

30
Spiritual Questby Intended Major ( high scorers)
  • Highest
  • Humanities 38
  • Fine Arts 36
  • Music 35
  • Lowest
  • Agriculture 8
  • Computer Science 15
  • Engineering 17

31
Equanimityby Intended Major ( high scorers)
  • Highest
  • Music 31
  • Humanities 30
  • Political Science 27
  • Lowest
  • Computer Science 14
  • Engineering 18
  • Business 18

32
  • Race and Spirituality

33
Spiritualityby Race ( high scorers)
  • Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander 25
  • American Indian/Alaska Native 24
  • African American/Black 24
  • White/Caucasian 17
  • Latino 17
  • Asian American/Asian 14

34
Religious Commitmentby Race ( high scorers)
  • African American/Black 47
  • American Indian/Alaska Native 32
  • Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander 29
  • White/Caucasian 25
  • Latino 23
  • Asian American/Asian 22

35
Ecumenical Worldviewby Race ( high scorers)
  • Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander 24
  • American Indian/Alaska Native 19
  • Latino 18
  • Asian American/Asian 18
  • African American/Black 16
  • White/Caucasian 12

36
Spiritual Questby Race ( high scorers)
  • African American/Black 36
  • American Indian/Alaska Native 34
  • Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander 34
  • Latino 28
  • Asian American/Asian 27
  • White/Caucasian 23

37
Equanimityby Race ( high scorers)
  • African American/Black 33
  • Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander 28
  • American Indian/Alaska Native 27
  • Latino 23
  • White/Caucasian 22
  • Asian American/Asian 19

38
Gender and Spirituality
39
Gender Differences on Factors High Scorers
40
Gender Differences on Factors High Scorers
41
Preliminary findings on gender differences in
spirituality
  • We explored gender differences in spirituality
    using two survey items included in our
    longitudinal pilot data
  • The value students placed on integrating
    spirituality into my life
  • Students self-rated spirituality
  • We identified the variables that predicted
    changes in these items during college for women
    compared to men.

42
Preliminary findings on gender differences in
spirituality
  • College experiences that impact mens and womens
    spirituality similarly
  • Discussions on spirituality/religion with friends
    or in class ()
  • Charitable Involvement ()

43
Preliminary findings on gender differences in
spirituality
  • College experiences that impact mens and womens
    spirituality differently
  • Hours per week spent studying/doing homework (-
    for men)
  • Majoring in one of the science disciplines
  • (- for men)

44
Preliminary findings on gender differences in
spirituality
  • College experiences that impact mens and womens
    spirituality differently
  • Having many close friends who are religious
  • ( for both genders, but stronger for women)

45
Preliminary findings on gender differences in
spirituality
  • The spiritual differences we observe are not
    necessarily innate gendered qualities, but are
    influenced by contextual factors and student
    experiences in the college environment.

46
Spirituality, Religion, and Political Orientation
47
Percentages of High Scorers on Each of
Eight Scales Who Are Conservative and Liberal
48
Political and Social Issues
49
High vs. Low Religious Engagement
  • Diverging Perspectives On
  • Legalized abortion
  • Casual sex
  • Same-sex marriage
  • Legalization of marijuana

50
Political and Social Issues
51
High vs. Low Religious Engagement
  • Converging Perspectives On
  • Issues of race
  • Rights of criminals
  • Womens roles
  • Gun control

52
Percent agreeing that The death penalty should
be abolished
53
Religious Differences
54
Spiritualityby Religious Preference ( high
scorers)
55
Spiritualityby Religious Preference ( high
scorers)
56
Self-description Have an interest in
spirituality, to a great extent
  • Highest on Spirituality
  • Mormon 66
  • 7th Day Adventist 52
  • Other Christian 52
  • Lowest on Spirituality
  • No religious preference 10
  • Jewish 17
  • Hindu 23

57
Religious Engagementby Religious Preference (
high scorers)
58
Religious Engagementby Religious Preference (
high scorers)
59
Attended religious services frequently
  • Highest on Religious Engagement
  • Mormon 78
  • 7th Day Adventist 76
  • Other Christian 61
  • Lowest on Religious Engagement
  • No religious preference 4
  • Unitarian 24
  • Buddhist 10

60
Religious/Social Conservatismby Religious
Preference ( high scorers)
61
Religious/Social Conservatismby Religious
Preference ( high scorers)
62
Agree strongly that abortion should be legal
  • Highest on Religious/Social Conservatism
  • Baptist 13
  • Mormon 11 Other Christian
    14
  • Lowest on Religious/Social Conservatism
  • Unitarian 67
  • Buddhist 34
  • Hindu 28

63
Religious Skepticismby Religious Preference (
high scorers)
64
Religious Skepticismby Religious Preference (
high scorers)
65
Religion and science conflict I am on the side
of science
  • Highest on Religious Skepticism
  • None 42
  • Unitarian 29
  • Jewish 22
  • Lowest on Religious Skepticism
  • Mormon 0
  • Baptist 3
  • Other Christian 4

66
Ecumenical Worldviewby Religious Preference (
high scorers)
67
Ecumenical Worldviewby Religious Preference (
high scorers)
68
Agree strongly that people can grow spiritually
without being religious
  • Highest on Ecumenical Worldview
  • Unitarian 55
  • Hindu 25
  • Buddhist 35
  • Lowest on Ecumenical Worldview
  • Church of Christ 14
  • Baptist 11
  • Lutheran 14

69
Ethic of Caringby Religious Preference ( high
scorers)
70
Ethic of Caringby Religious Preference ( high
scorers)
71
Engaged in trying to change unfair things in the
world to a great extent
  • Highest on Ethic of Caring
  • Unitarian 26
  • Islamic 21
  • Buddhist 19
  • Lowest on Ethic of Caring
  • Lutheran 10
  • Methodist 12
  • Presbyterian 11

72
Religious Differences
  • Two religious clusters
  • Spiritual, religious, and conservative
  • Skeptical, pluralistic, and justice-oriented

73
Compassionate Self-Conceptby Religious
Preference ( high scorers)
74
Compassionate Self-Conceptby Religious
Preference ( high scorers)
75
Students Spiritual Diversity
  • Spiritual perspectives and experiences vary
    widely and are associated with a range of student
    characteristics.
  • While these characteristics distinguish students,
    there are also important points of convergence.
  • As we serve students and study their experiences
    in college, we must remain mindful of how these
    multifaceted identity markers interact with their
    spirituality.

76
  • Spirituality
  • and Higher Education

77
Expectations for My College Indicating Very
Important or Essential
78
Professors Provided Indicating Frequently
and Not at all
79
Faculty Spirituality
  • Consider myself a spiritual person
  • (to a great extent) 48
  • Integrating spirituality in my life
  • (very important or essential)
    47
  • Seek out opportunities to grow spiritually
  • (to a great extent) 32

80
Faculty Spirituality Factor a.88
  • Self Descriptions
  • ? Consider myself a spiritual person
  • ? Seek out opportunities to grow spiritually
  • Personal Goal
  • ? Integrate spirituality in my life

81
Highly Spiritual and Religious
82
General Work Values ( essential)
  • Spirituality
  • High Low
    Diff
  • Be a good teacher 81 62 -19
  • Be a role model to students 62 30
    -32
  • Be a good colleague 58 35
    -23

83
Student Personal Development Focus ( very
important or essential)

  • Spirituality
  • High
    Low Diff
  • Develop moral character 76
    32 -44
  • Enhance self understanding 71
    41 -30
  • Help develop personal values 68
    29 -39
  • Provide for emotional dev. 52
    16 -36
  • Facilitate meaning/purpose search 54
    16 -38
  • Enhance spiritual development 44
    1 -43

84
Civic Minded Values ( very important or
essential)
  • Spirituality

  • High Low Diff
  • Goals for Undergraduates
  • Prepare for responsible citizenship
    70 45 -25
  • Instill commitment to community service
    51 18 -33
  • Personal Objectives
  • Influence social values 49 24
    -25
  • Influence the political structure 21
    16 -5

85
Civic Minded Practice ( yes in past two years)
  • Spirituality


  • High Low Diff
  • Used my scholarship to address
  • local community needs 56 31
    -25
  • Collaborated with the local
  • community in research/
  • teaching 46
    31 -15

86
Colleges Should be Concerned with Students
Spiritual Development ( agree)
  • Other Religious Colleges 69
    Catholic Colleges 62 Private
    Nonsectarian Colleges 39 Private
    Universities 37 Two Year
    Colleges 29 Public Colleges 23
    Public Universities 18

87
Spirituality of Faculty Has No Place
in the Academy ( disagree)
  • Other Religious Colleges 78
    Catholic Colleges 71 Private
    Nonsectarian Colleges 61 Two Year
    Colleges 59 Private Universities
    58 Public Colleges 53
    Public Universities 49

88
Next Steps
  • National Institute on Integrating Spirituality
    into the Campus Curriculum and Co-Curriculum
  • (Fall 2007)
  • Longitudinal Follow Up of the 2004 Entering
    Freshmen Cohort
  • (Spring 2007)
  • Second CIRP/CSBV Administration to Entering
    Freshmen
  • (Fall 2008)

89
  • For more information
  • www.spirituality.ucla.edu
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