Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
The spiritual development of college students has recently become a greater concern for student affairs professionals in higher education. This study was designed to discover if the social climate of living-learning environments would contribute to the spiritual development of college students. More specifically, this study was conducted with freshmen students involved in an international living-learning community and tested the students' perceptions of their social climate, along with their growth in spiritual maturity over a semester. Freshmen students experiencing traditional on-campus living arrangements were the control group for this study. Social climate was defined as the unique characteristics of a specific group environment. Rudolph Moos' Group Environment Scale was utilized in order to measure the social climate of the living-learning environment. Craig W. Ellison's Spiritual Maturity Index assessed the change in spiritual maturity over the semester. Spiritual maturity was defined as possessing Christ-like characteristics. It was predicted that the study abroad students would experience higher levels of social climate dimensions and that these dimensions would be a predictor for growth in spiritual maturity. Thus, it was anticipated that the study abroad students would have greater growth in spiritual maturity than students on-campus. The subscales of independence and self-discovery were more statistically significant within the study abroad students than the on-campus students. The independence subscale was also a significant predictor of student spiritual maturity. Students in the international living-learning community did not higher growth in spiritual maturity than on-campus students as predicted. However it was found that the students participating in the study abroad program entered their freshman year significantly more spiritually mature than on-campus students. These results raise significant implications for student affairs professionals working in study abroad programs. Specific programming and mentoring relationships may need to be directed toward students at a higher spiritual maturity level.
Rodeheaver, Laura M., "Spirituality and Social Climate in the Context of an International Learning Community" (2009). Master of Arts in Higher Education Theses. 77.