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A Multi-level Examination of College and Its Influence on Ecumenical Worldview Development

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Abstract

This multi-level, longitudinal study investigated the ecumenical worldview development of 13,932 students enrolled in one of 126 institutions. Results indicated that the final hierarchical linear model, consisting of institution-and-student-level predictors as well as slopes explaining the relationships among some of these predictors, explained 39.98% of variance in Time 2 ecumenical worldview. Specifically, differences in ecumenical development trajectories for men and women could be partially explained by the average amount of religious struggle reported by students. Implications for college impact researchers and student development scholars are discussed.

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Notes

  1. It is important to note that the authors of the measure of ecumenical worldview (see Astin et al. 2011a, b) did not intend its constituent items to capture or reflect Park’s orientation to understanding spiritual development. Perhaps a matter of interpretation, the author of current study has conceptualized ecumenical worldview as a possible point of convergence between the three forms described in Park’s model. Other scholars in this area may disagree with this conceptualization.

  2. By including T1 average ecumenical worldview in the model, the slope model was better specified, providing compelling evidence that institutional-level covariates were indeed related to ecumenical worldview development.

  3. In addition to the aggregated, Level-2 measure of religious struggle, a non-aggregated measure of this variable was also included as a Level-1 covariate. By including these simultaneously, a more direct estimation of the contextual effect of religious struggle could be attained (see Raudenbush and Bryk 2002, for a discussion of this).

  4. Figure 1 represents the model used to guide this study. Institutional-level covariates are represented by circles and student-level covariates are represented by squares. Also note the overlap between the constructs representing organization characteristics and peer group characteristics; this overlap is intended to represent the interaction terms created for religious institutional type and average peer religious struggle. Finally, italicized terms were used to represent the cross-level effects examined for this study, with average peer religious struggle posited for explaining the relationship between gender and Time 2 ecumenical worldview.

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Acknowledgments

The author thanks UCLA’s Spirituality in Higher Education Project and its directors, Alexander W. Astin, Helen S. Astin, and Jennifer A. Lindholm, for providing the data for this study. The UCLA project, which is housed at UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute, is supported by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the John Templeton Foundation.

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Appendix

Appendix

Fully Unconditional Model

For Time 2 ecumenical worldview, the fully unconditional models can be expressed using a similar equation,

$$ Y_{ij} = \beta_{0j} + r_{ij} . $$

Y ij is Time 2 ecumenical worldview and β0j is the institutional mean for institution j, and r ij is the deviation from the institutional mean for students ij. The result of the null model is used to estimate the proportion of variance that exists between and within colleges. In this case, the proportion of variance explained by institutional differences was approximately .0571, suggesting the 5.71% of the variance in the Time 2 ecumenical worldview could be explained by institutional-level differences.

Level-1

Data structure for the Level-1 covariates can be represented as,

$$\begin{aligned} Y_{{ij}} =& \beta _{{0j}} + \beta_{{\text{1}}} \left( {{\mathbf{Male}}} \right) + \beta_{{\text{2}}} \left( {African\,American} \right) + \beta_{{\text{3}}} \left( {Latino/a} \right) \\ & + \beta_{{\text{4}}} \left( {Asian/Asian\,American} \right) + \beta_{{\text{5}}} \left( {Native\,American} \right) + \beta_{{\text{6}}} \left( {No\,race\,given} \right) \\ & + \beta_{{\text{7}}} \left( {Reported\,Disability} \right) + \beta_{{\text{8}}} \left( {Zscore{:}\,Socioeconomic\,status} \right) \\& + \beta _{{\text{9}}} \left({Zscore{:}\,Precollege\,religious\,identification} \right) \\ & +\beta _{{{\text{1}}0}} \left({Zscore{:}\,Precollege\,spiritual\,identification} \right) \\ & +\beta _{{{\text{11}}}} \left({Zscore{:}\,Pretest\,ecumenical\,worldview} \right) \\ & + \beta_{{{\text{12}}}} \left( {Zscore{:}\,College\,grade\,point\,average}\right) \\ & + \beta _{{{\text{13}}}} \left({Participation\,in\,curricular\,religious\,and\,spiritual\,opportunities}\right) \\ & + \beta _{{{\text{14}}}} \left({Zscore{:}\,Perceptions\,of\,religious\,struggle} \right) \\ & +\beta _{{{\text{15}}}} \left( {Participation\,in\,co{\text{-}}curricular\,religious\,and\,spiritual\,opportunities} \right) +rij, \\ \end{aligned} $$

where Y ij (i.e., Time 2 ecumenical worldview) is calculated as a deviation from the average Time 2 ecumenical worldview at an institution (β0j ) based on the effects of student entry characteristics (β1–β11), the effect of student academic (β12–β13) and social experiences (β14–β15) and error (r ij ). Based on stated research questions, the variance for gender is represented in bold since it was group-mean centered and left free to vary at Level-2.

Level-2

Data structure for the Level-2 covariates included the following representation:

$$ \begin{gathered} \beta_{0j} = \gamma_{00} + \gamma_{0 1} \left( {\text{Catholic}} \right) + \gamma_{0 2} \left( {\text{Public}} \right) + \gamma_{0 3} \left( {\text{Non-sectarian}} \right) + \gamma_{0 4} \left( {{\text{Other}}\,{\text{Religious}}} \right) \\ + \gamma_{0 5} \left( {Zscore{:}\,Peer\,Average\,Ecumenical\,Worldview\,Time\,1} \right) \\ + \gamma_{0 6} \left( {Zscore{:}\,Peer\,Average\,Religious\,Struggle} \right) \\ + \gamma_{0 7} \left( {Zscore{:}\,Catholic\,by\,Average\,Religious\,Struggle\,Interaction} \right) \\ + \gamma_{0 8} \left( {Zscore{:}\,Public\,by\,Average\,Religious\,Struggle\,Interaction} \right) \\ + \gamma_{0 9} \left( {Zscore{:}\,Non{ - }sectarian\,by\,Average\,Religious\,Struggle\,Interaction} \right) \\ + \gamma_{ 10} \left( {Zscore{:}\,Other\,Religious\,by\,Average\,Religious\,Struggle\,Interaction} \right) + u_{0j} , \\ \end{gathered} $$

where the average Time 2 ecumenical development score at the institution (β0j ) is a function of institutional religious type (γ01–γ04), average peer-reported ecumenical worldview at Time 1 (γ05), average peer-reported religious struggle (γ06), interaction terms for institutional religious type by average peer-reported religious struggle (γ07–γ10), and deviations from the institutional average (γ00), plus error (u 0j ). Italicized items were grand mean centered; other indicator variables remained un-centered.

To represent the effects of peer socialization variables on explaining gaps in Time 2 ecumenical worldview between males and females, an additional model representation is offered:

$$ \beta 1j = \, \gamma_{{ 1 1 { }}} + \gamma_{ 1 2} \left( {Zscore{:}\,Peer\,Average\,Religious\,Struggle} \right) + u_{ 1j,} $$

where (β1j ) indicates the relationship between gender and Time 2 ecumenical worldview for each institution. This relationship (slope) is a function of the average religious struggle reported by students (γ12), deviations from the institutional average (γ11), plus error (u ij ).

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Mayhew, M.J. A Multi-level Examination of College and Its Influence on Ecumenical Worldview Development. Res High Educ 53, 282–310 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11162-011-9231-6

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