Graduation Year

2008

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Adult, Career, and Higher Education

Major Professor

William Young, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Michael Mills, Ph.D.

Keywords

Alienation, Incongruence, Isolation, Worldview, Retention

Abstract

This qualitative study explored the perceptions of evangelical freshmen students attending the University of Texas at Arlington and the University of Texas at Dallas during the spring semester of 2006 in the context of student alienation. The purpose of this study was to explore the possibility that evangelicals attending secular universities were perceiving alienation through their interactions with their universities. It was hypothesized that the modern university, having evolved into its present naturalistic worldview condition, might prove alienating to evangelicals from a worldview standpoint. Assuming the possibility that alienation might prove to be a reality for evangelicals, the subordinate purposes were intended to discover the types and sources of alienation, the possible evangelical coping strategies, and their perceptions of the university's reaction to them as evangelicals.

During the spring semester of 2006, I conducted two live interviews with twenty participants. The first interview included a questionnaire which was administered for the purpose of providing insight into each participant's religiosity or evangelical commitment. The first interview (conducted prior to spring break) asked the students to reflect back upon their first semester experience (the fall of 2005). The second interview, conducted towards the end of the spring semester, was oriented towards the second semester experience. I found that all evangelicals but one had successfully assimilated socially and academically into their respective university. Their academic assimilation was primarily manifested by their relatively high academic achievement. Although they did experience worldview related incongruence, it was not severe enough to manifest any related attrition.

I found the most severe incongruence to be related to the perceptions of a negative university moral ethos combined with the prevailing naturalistic monism of the university that relegated the Christian worldview to marginalization or irrelevance. I also found that the high level of social integration was primarily related to participant affiliation with various evangelical entities independent of the university. The data revealed that zero participants lost or abandoned their evangelical faith during their freshman year, and the students' perceived that they had actually experienced positive growth in their spiritual lives as a result of the overall college freshman experience.

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