Epistemological Development in Pre-Ministry Undergraduates Attending Secular Universities
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SubjectChristian college students
Developmental psychology--Religious aspects--Christianity
Knowledge, Theology of
This qualitative study sought to replicate the previous study conducted by John David Trentham in 2012. Trentham’s study was cross-institutional in nature with a population from bible colleges, confessional Christian liberal arts colleges and universities, and secular universities. This study is focused on a population consisting of pre-ministry undergraduate students from a single institutional setting, secular universities. The Perry Scheme is the basis for the evaluation and previous research conducted by Trentham is used to study how attendance at secular universities affects the progression of pre-ministry undergraduate students through positions established by Perry in his epistemological developmental scheme. The qualitative research design consisted of six steps. The first step consisted of customizing the Trentham Interview Protocol which entailed adding a line of questioning exploring the impact of attending events sponsored by Student Services/Student Affairs. The second step was to recruit study participants having each complete a Thesis Study Participation Form verifying they met the criteria for the study. The third step was to conduct a pilot study ensuring I was able to properly conduct the interviews and make any necessary adjustments before moving forward. The fourth step was to conduct and transcribe interviews with study participants and submit them to the Center for the Study of Intellectual Development (CSID) for scoring. The fifth step was to perform an independent content analysis utilizing Trentham’s categories for assessing epistemological priorities and competencies. The six step was to evaluate the scoring provided by the CSID and the content analysis, determine research findings, and draw conclusions based on the data obtained. Overall, the findings of this research were consistent with those of Trentham’s earlier research. This is especially so of his study participants from secular universities. Study participants with higher Perry Scheme scoring also scored higher in Trentham’s structured framework for epistemological priorities and competencies. This study also suggests a possible correlation between epistemological positioning and voluntary attendance at extracurricular events sponsored by Student Services/Student Affairs with Trentham’s Epistemological Priorities and Competencies. However, due to the small population size, further research is necessary. The prominent themes that emerged were consistent with those observed in the Trentham study.