Thesis (Ed.D., Leadership and Counseling)--University of Idaho, June 2014 | The college experience is a challenging transitional time when students assume adult roles and responsibilities, face new social and academic pressures, and enter a foreign and demanding environment. Diverse sectors of society are attempting to mediate this experience. This independent qualitative case study, in conjunction with a collaborative meta synthesis of three case studies on aspects of religious practices of college student and graduates in higher education, sheds light on the premise that religiosity may ease some of the challenges faced by college students during this challenging transitional period. This dissertation reports on three articles examining religiosity in the university environment.
This Professional Practices Doctoral (PPD) Dissertation in Practice (DiP) is designed to enhance curriculum and training, and deepen the discussion regarding student religiosity during the college years. This DiP consists of three parts, (a) in independent inquiry (chapter 2) that describes the experiences of highly religious college students regarding the challenges of college life and the role of religiosity, (b) a collaborative team-based qualitative meta-synthesis (chapter 3) of three research projects sharing a similar theme, and (c) a white paper (chapter 4) presenting the findings and implications for practice from both the individual and group research projects.
The independent inquiry reports on eight undergraduate students enrolled in two Intermountain West universities. They reported academic, social and familial challenges which, at times, were amplified by religiosity. They also reported behavioral expectations and community support from their religiosity, which helped them manage particular challenges. The collaborative meta-synthesis described the contextual nuances and lived experiences of LDS college students and academic professionals and sought to understand how college life influenced their religious choices. Findings revealed that students and academic professionals experienced varying levels of tension between religiosity and academia; however, the participants were supported by the sense of community their religion provided. Examples of religious living and thinking from church members provided support in times of stress and challenge. The white paper is intended for those in the industry of religious education--stakeholders of the professional practice--and presents implications for curriculum development and training.