Jesuit education and college outcomes: An examination of the relationship between institutional religious affiliation and students' Jesuit values, deep learning, and engagement
Jesuit education includes among its characteristics the development of students' intellect, character, values, spirituality, and a predisposition towards service and justice. Founded in the year 1540 by Ignatius of Loyola, the Jesuits sponsor 28 colleges and universities in the United States. Jesuit institutions have reputations for academic excellence marked by rigor and mission-centric values. This dissertation's primary research questions examine the relationship between institutional religious affiliation and undergraduates' Jesuit values, deep learning, and student engagement. Secondary research questions examine the extent to which Jesuit institutions' leaders report intentionality in having undergraduates' employ Jesuit values in their daily lives as well as assessment practices being used. Descriptive and multivariate analyses of data from more than 18,000 student respondents to the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) are used to examine the primary research questions. Secondary research questions are addressed analyzing data from a questionnaire completed by senior administrators at the nation's Jesuit postsecondary institutions. The conceptual framework for this dissertation builds on the work of George Kuh and Robert Gonyea. Unlike most prior research, this study distinguishes between students attending Jesuit institutions and students attending other Roman Catholic institutions when examining the relationship between institutional religious affiliation and deep learning and student engagement. The study develops composite measures for Jesuit values using available items from the NSSE. Results suggest that even after controlling for student and institutional characteristics, students attending Jesuit, other Roman Catholic, and other faith-based institutions achieve higher average scores than students at nonsectarian institutions on measures of Jesuit values, deep learning, and student engagement. Findings also suggest that college students who self-report a majority of their grades are at least B+, and students who attend bachelor's level institutions achieve higher average scores for measures of Jesuit values, deep learning, and student engagement. Finally, senior administrators at Jesuit institutions report offering curricular and co-curricular programming that is intended to have students employ Jesuit values in their daily lives and also report utilizing assessment data, particularly NSSE, to better understand and improve on the educational experience of undergraduates. The dissertation concludes by offering implications for institutional practice and future research.
Colleges & universities;
0527: Religious education
0745: Higher education