Spirituality and Character Study Helps Baylor Support Student Development

February 5, 2020
Truett Stained Glass
Baylor researchers recently released early findings from the Spirituality and Character Study administered among Baylor students and alumni. This longitudinal study to track the long-term impact of a Baylor education on a person’s faith and character was led by Kevin D. Dougherty, PhD, associate professor of sociology; Perry L. Glanzer, PhD, professor of educational foundations; and Sarah A. Schnitker, PhD, associate professor of psychology and neuroscience.

New Students, Seniors and Alumni had High Levels of Christian Beliefs and Behaviors

• 93% of new Baylor students and seniors identify with a religious tradition.
• 50% of Baylor students attend religious services at least once per week compared to 30% of the U.S. population.
• New students and seniors reported high levels of being spiritually moved by nature, talking with others about their faith, their commitment to God, applying their faith to political and social issues and seeking opportunities to grow spiritually.
• New students are lower on Bible belief and reading than seniors or alumni.
• 74% of alumni, 69% of seniors and 61% of new students agreed that the Bible is inspired by God.
• On average, new students attended religious services about weekly but read the Bible less than once a month, while seniors and alumni read the Bible two to three times a month.

Seniors Self-Report Stronger Character Than New Students

• Seniors had higher self-ratings than new students on measures of character, including forgiveness of others, forgiveness of situations, gratitude, openness to revising one’s viewpoint and respect for others’ viewpoints. Seniors also displayed more curiosity, faith, judgment, love of learning, perseverance, prudence and wisdom.
• However, while eight in 10 seniors and new students report that their life is filled with meaning and purpose, more than half of new students in qualitative interviews could not yet identify a purpose.