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The proper APA Style reference for this manuscript is:
MASON, S A (2009). Religiosity in Class. National Undergraduate Research Clearinghouse, 12. Available online at http://www.webclearinghouse.net/volume/. Retrieved December 2, 2022 .

Religiosity in Class
Department of Psychology Central Missouri State University

Sponsored by: PATRICIA MARSH (pmarsh@ucmo.edu)

The purpose of this study was to examine whether spirituality and religious students having a positive outcome in their academic performance in the classroom.  The participants consisted of fifty students from the University of Central Missouri.  Participants were given a ten to fifteen item questionnaire where they were analyzed based on their specific answers.  There was a significant difference between the spiritual students and the general population.

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Religiosity in Class

            Through religion alone, people have said to have accomplished the most amazing miracles of all time.  Jesus could not only walk on water, but could also turn it into wine.  Moses spilt the red sea to help free his people from slavery.  Thousands of people have fought and died in massive bloody wars that started simply over religious conflicts.  One would think that through religion, he or she could at least achieve and A in a college level course at a university.

            Even at a smaller university, the different types of people, social groups, clans, and peer pressure are just so hard to resist.  College itself is not as evil as many who do not successfully finish may say and think, but it seems that for those who have faith, confidence, are self centered in the respect for their education, feel it is a gift of all gifts.  The opposite of this is the students who do not see college in this way.  They do not let homework get in the way of their social life, which includes friends and partying.  They do not let exams or finals get in the way of that girl who looked so good in the short shirt and high hills walking to class.  They fold under the pressure of being a college student, and when they fold, there is usually no one there to help, and then there is not enough time to recover.  It has been stated that in the U.S., of every 100 high school students entering college, no more than 40 will graduate 5 years later (Desruisseaux, 1998; Geraghty, 1996).

            A study conducted by Michael Herndon (2008) surveyed a few African American students who were very in tuned with their religion.  He noticed that prayer was used by these students for guidance and coping, and that spirituality is used in a social context and social support from religious institutions, meaning when times are rough, students look to religion as a coping mechanism.  Also, in this research, there were some distinctive themes that were not reported.  The first distinctive theme was participants reported that they expressed their spirituality verbally.  None of these participants ever threw their religious beliefs and values under the buss because religion was their main gossip if you will.  The second distinctive theme was locus of control.  Participants with an internal locus of control were better at coping (Herndon, 2008).  No matter what


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happened to them, whether good or bad, they had their faith to fall back onto, which comforts them in every situation.  A few of these participants admitted that through the power of Christ alone was the only reason why they are able to continue to make the grades to stay in school.  Love and Talbot (2000) maintained that “spirituality is a process that involves the pursuit of discovering direction, meaning, and purpose in one’s life (pg. 364).”  Others psychologists believe in a certain “terror management theory that helps enhance ones self-esteem which in turn helps open up a meaningful worldview (Blaine, Trivedi, & Eshleman, 1998).

            To many college students, it is a struggle to search for their purpose in life.  In a lot of different situations, many students end up dropping one or two majors because of the fact that at the end of the day, those majors wouldn’t have taken them to where they would be happiest in life.  Religious meaning is the core of life because it contains an explainable dynamic, a mystery, of dependence on God.  Carroll et al. (1950) states that “the search for meaning and purpose begins with a release and is continued by a nurturing of religious impulse.  It is assisted but not answered by teaching the rudiments of a carefully defined religion or faith (p.58).”

            Students, whether extremely religious or not, struggle almost every day to be the best student they possibly can be.  During the last semester of the third year here at UCM, example of daily stressors encountered range from inefficient allocation or distribution, study plans, and/or very poor organization of time.  One of the easiest ways for a student to gain insight into alternative ways to deal with frustration or stress from a difficult course is by forming a “study group” that may consist of a few close buddies.  In many cases, students may find out that a buddy indeed had already taken and passed this specific course that they are struggling with now and the buddy may still have previous notes, quizzes, and tests from that class which may be an advantage.  These are all ways for students to up their performance in courses but many students just do not have this drive to do so.  In most cases, students seem to get caught up in the social aspect of college whether going out to much during the week or on weekends when this time could have been spent


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studying for a Monday test.  Faith comes into play with many students who live with religion in every aspect of their life.  It seems that a lot of students who are strongly encouraged by religion usually take these extra steps of success by almost harassing their professors via email if any minor problem or misunderstanding is to occur, or using their professors office hours to their advantage and seeking extra help directly from the professor.  It is these little things that seem huge to students but are basically daily routines for these passionate students who take every course as serious as possible.

            Herndon (2003) found that in his study over African-Americans in a predominantly white college, that academic, emotional, social, financial, and spiritual support was needed in order to have success in this particular college.  They received academic support through tutoring services, meeting with professors or academic advisors, mentoring programs, and campus facilities like the library or computer labs.  Walker (2002) also conducted a study over whether or not spirituality and religious participation correlates with academic performance among college students.  A sample of 192 college students (109 European-Americans, 85 African Americans) completed a questionnaire created by the research team.  Basically, blacks have higher levels of spiritual beliefs and religious participation than whites.  This correlated with spiritual beliefs, which were more salient among blacks, whereas participation was more salient among whites (Walker, 2002).  In summarizing the important variables that influence students’ grades and the important role of religion that coexist, it is easy to see that religion only helps in every situation.  Many students look up to religion as an answer to all.  The role of religion is larger than one could imagine considering 90 to 95 percent of students associated themselves with some sort of religious group.  If religion was to fail, then the world we live in tody would be drastically different and difficult.  It would be difficult to argue against the fact that in most cases, we will struggle more in college as students versus whatever company that we end up working for in the real world.  Therefore, it is important to examine whether spirituality and religious students having a positive outcome in their academic performance in the classroom.


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            Participants were fifty-five (34 male, 21 female) students athlete undergraduates from a smaller Midwestern university.  The majority of participants, (n = 38, 69%) were European American, and (n = 17, 30%) were African American.  Of all participants, 43 (78%) identified themselves as either Baptist or Catholic, 2 (3%) as Mormon, 3 (5%) as Jewish, 5 (9%) as Atheist, and 2 (3%) as “other.”


            Participants will be given a pencil or pen.  They will read and sign an informed consent form, which discloses exactly what the study is about, participants then were given a 10 question questionnaire about their past and present religious beliefs and academic workload.  For example, “how often do you attend church or other religious meetings?”


            The researcher set up a table at track practice before practice actually started where these participants successfully obtained the questionnaire.  After reading and signing the informed consent form, participants will answer and complete the questionnaire.  The questionnaire will not be online; therefore, participants will have to be present to complete it.  Grades will be requested from participating students.  In doing this, students will receive will receive up to ten points in extra credit.








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            In this particular study, the lower each participant scored on the 10 question survey is typically better than scoring higher.  The best score an individual can score is 10, and the worst is 52.  Participants who were classified as Catholic or Baptist (n = 43, 78%) had an average score of 22.93, (n = 2, 3%) Mormon had a average score of 20.50, (n = 3, 5%) Jewish had an average score of 19.66, (n = 5, 9%) Atheist had an average score of 34.60, and (n = 2, 3%) Others had an average score of 31.00.  This shows an aggressive difference between those who strongly involve themselves in religious activities versus those who do not.


















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Blaine, B., Trivedi, P., & Eshleman, A. (1998). Religious belief and the self-concept: Evaluating the implications

for psychological adjustment. Society for Personality and Social Psychology, 24, 1040-1052.

Desruisseaux, P. (1998). U.S. trails 22 nations in high-school completion. The Chronicle of Higher Education. 

Retrieved May 1, 2009, http://chronicle.com/weekly/v45/i15/15a04501.htm

Geraphty, M. (1996). Data show more students quitting college before sophomore year.  The Chronicle of

Higher Education. Retrieved May 1, 2009, http://chronicle.com/chedata/articles.dir/issue-45.dir/45a03501.htm

Herndon, M. K. (2003).  Expressions of spirituality among African-American college males.  Journal of Men’s

Studies, 12, 75-84.

Love, P., & Talbot, D. (1999). Defining spiritual development: A missing consideration for student affairs. 

NASPA Journal, 37, 361-375.

Walker, K. L. (2002). Spirituality and academic performance among African-American college students. Journal

of Black Psychology, 22, 107-121.

Submitted 05/09/2009
Accepted 05/28/2009

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