Master of Arts in Higher Education Theses

Date of Award

2019

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Tim Herrmann

Second Advisor

Todd Ream

Third Advisor

Scott Gaier

Abstract

In student development theory, a crisis is considered the impetus for development. For undergraduate students, contemplation is one of the ways students resolve their crises. This study was an inquiry into those contemplative practices and was guided by the following research question: What are the contemplative practices of undergraduate students, and what are the outcomes of those practices? After eleven students were interviewed, findings revealed 1) an enrichment of the meaning of the word space to include space in time; 2) contemplation is perceived by students as deep thinking; 3) contemplation is often connected to spiritual practices; and 4) students’ contemplation is enhanced by an articulation of their thoughts. Additionally, 5) contemplation can cause fear and anxiety, although 6) it ultimately leads to greater clarity and allows students to make more informed decisions on how to live. These findings imply that professionals in higher education encourage students to deal with crises through contemplation, especially through articulation (journaling, processing with friends, “one-on-ones,” etc.). The findings also explain how a student might advance from stage to stage in various student development theories.

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