Date of Award

January 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Margaret A. Healy


The undergraduate collegiate years are filled with growth and development for students. As students experience and progress through their collegiate years, they are often confronted with difficult life questions, such as what is the meaning of life or why am I here? Oftentimes, the question is why do bad things happen? The purpose of this study is to better understand relationship between student engagement and spirituality.

Undergraduate students at a small, church-related private college in the Upper Midwest were surveyed in the Spring 2015 semester using the College Students’ Beliefs and Values Survey (CSBVS).

Alexander Astin’s I-E-O model was utilized as a conceptual framework for better understanding the relationships of inputs, environments, and outputs while testing the variables selected for the purposes of this research from the CSBVS, specifically the five constructs of spiritual quest, ethic of caring, ecumenical worldview, equanimity, and charitable involvement.

In-class experiences appear to be the strongest as it relates to the five spirituality constructs. There is a statistically significant relationship between out-of-class experiences and spirituality. There is less evidence that there is a relationship between spirituality and faculty interactions. It is important to remember the institution surveyed. Midwest Church College (MCC) is a small, church-related private college. What the research with this project also showed is strong support of the findings of the Astin, Astin, and Lindholm research of 2011 in that there is a strong relationship between engagement and the five spirituality constructs of equanimity, ecumenical worldview, charitable involvement, ethic of caring, and spiritual quest for students at MCC.

Such information helps to confirm that students at MCC find that spirituality is a significant part of their daily lives and thus must be considered as a strong piece for better understanding how to best respond to the difficult questions they often pose: Why am I here? What is the meaning of life? Why do bad things happen?