A case study of the integration of faith and learning at a Christian college
Gaeddert, Terri J.
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Many faith-based institutions articulate a mission of bringing faith and scholarship together. The integration of faith and learning is widely discussed, yet limited empirical research of the concept exists. This qualitative case study provides insight into the daily, lived experiences of the campus community at a small, private, liberal arts college as they worked together to achieve the mission of Christ-centered education. The study was designed to facilitate understanding of how the organizational culture of an institution influenced daily life; to see if participants perceived the organization as living the mission of integrating faith and learning. The college had a full-time enrollment of 281 students in traditional, resident-based programs, and about 400 non-traditional, on-ground and online students. Document reviews, interviews, and focus group sessions with faculty, staff, and students were utilized. Upper-level administrators (4) participated in individual interviews. Two focus group sessions each were held for faculty (11), staff (14), and students (11), for a total of 40 participants. Data were analyzed through the lenses of organizational culture and transformational leadership. Findings revealed both culture and leadership played a role in helping the community walk the talk, and four conclusions related specifically to the integration of faith and learning. First, language is important. The phrase, integration of faith and learning, articulates a concept that is both too broad and too narrow to provide a model for empirical research. Second, institutional culture influences the ability of the college to achieve its mission. Third, faculty face challenges similar to those described by other researchers. And, fourth support is needed to facilitate the process of integrating faith and learning in the academic areas. These conclusions imply schools should discuss what the integration of faith and learning means for their unique campus culture, and align leadership with organizational culture to support the achievement of their missions.
Thesis (Ed.D.)-- Wichita State University, College of Education, Dept. of Counseling, Educational Leadership, Education and School Psychology