Master of Arts in Higher Education Theses

Date of Award

2012

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Scott Moeschberger

Second Advisor

Skip Trudeau

Third Advisor

Scott Gaier

Abstract

With the growing pressures on higher education institutions, schools are increasingly focusing their attention on issues surrounding retention and persistence. Since many religious institutions are tuition-driven, when students leave the institution, these institutions are losing revenue. Religiously-based institutions are often centered on a mission that impacts students’ spiritual growth along with their academic growth. At these types of institutions, students’ feelings of spiritual fit within the institution impacted their attrition. Based on Tinto’s (1993) theory of student departure, this study looked at fit within the institution. This study utilized a mixed method design to examine the relationship between persistence and students’ spiritual growth through participation in various expressions of their spirituality (Smith, 2009). Findings indicated that those students who reported more spiritually positive experiences with the institution and more spiritual growth were more apt to stay at the institution. Whether they were academically dismissed or they voluntarily withdrew, students who did not return did not mention relationship, community, personal devotions, or church attendance as often as returning students. This means that it is imperative that the institution assist students who are not developing relationships within the institution. These students may be assisted through mentoring relationships that teach methods for personally developing spirituality.

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