Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Jeria, Jorge

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Counseling, Adult and Higher Education


Higher education; Higher education administration; Spirituality; Catholic college students; Residence and education; Christian education of young people


The college years are a transformative period for undergraduate students, especially in their spiritual development. Fowler (1981) initially proposed the stages of faith model, and Parks (1986) clarified the unique faith journey experience of college students. There are many aspects in the lives of college students that influence faith development. Residence halls have long been known as having a great impact on student learning and development (Astin, 1993; Pascarella & Terenzini, 2005). This study examined college student spiritual development by exploring the impact of a residential learning community on the faith development of Catholic college students. This qualitative study examined the impact of a living-learning community situated in a private residence hall at a public university on the experiences of thirteen college students. Data was gathered using a series of three individual interviews with each participant. Data were then analyzed through a thematic coding process. Defining terms was an important introduction to this study. Participants described spirituality as an individual, personal relationship with God and religion as an organized community following a common set of principles and beliefs. Participants viewed faith as the way to put their belief into practice, to make meaning of their actions. Several environmental factors within the residential community emerged as impacting the faith development of college students including opportunities for invitation, peer mentoring, faith development programming, discernment support, and preparation for faith life after college. Participants also described several factors that influenced their decision to live within the residential community including the facility and amenities, the dining program, and the Catholic nature of the living community. From these findings, several recommendations for student affairs educators were suggested to enhance practices on campus in order to empower spiritual conversations and development. Suggestions for future research also emerged from this study's results.


Advisors: Jorge Jeria.||Committee members: Suzanne Degges-White; Denise Rode.


151 pages




Northern Illinois University

Rights Statement

In Copyright

Rights Statement 2

NIU theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from Huskie Commons for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without the written permission of the authors.

Media Type