Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Dissertation


College students--Religious life--Iowa--Decorah; Universities and colleges--Iowa--Decorah--Religion;


Luther College (Decorah, IA) is a liberal arts school of 2550 students that has been affiliated with the Evangelical Church in America since 1861. Its mission includes a higher calling to help students connect faith with learning, freedom with responsibility, and life's work with service. The college co-curriculum includes more than seventy campus organizations, seventeen intercollegiate sports, thirteen music ensembles, a comprehensive work-study program, and numerous community connections. Amidst these chaotic activities and events, relationships, and challenging learning environments, student faith is developing. Administrators at the college do not seem to understand the significant relationship of the co-curriculum with student faith development. The purpose of this case study is to describe, understand, and assess how and to what extent the co-curriculum contributes to student faith development at a college of the church.

James W. Fowler's stages of faith model and Sharon Dolaz Parks' extension of Fowler's model into higher education help to inform and guide the research. Other faith development scholarship also provides student affairs professionals with methods for understanding the college student as a person of faith. With the recent resurgence in values-based education in the United States, now is the time that college administrators seriously consider matters of student faith development when creating, implementing and assessing co-curricular programs at their higher education institutions. This is especially important at a college of the church, which must be diligent in its efforts to distinguish itself from other institutions in the highly competitive educational market place of today.

Twenty junior and senior class students were nominated to participate in qualitative interviews. The interview format was divided into four distinct sections: demographic information, college of the church perceptions, co-curricular commitments, and faith development experiences. Interview findings were categorized into a two-tier model, which includes challenges to student faith development, and supports for student faith development at a college of the church. Practical improvements for student affairs practice and future research efforts in faith development are discussed in the concluding chapter of this study.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Department of Educational Leadership, Counseling, and Postsecondary Education

First Advisor

Michael Waggoner, Committee Chair

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (x, 155 pages)



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