Catholic student experiences and perceptions at a non-Catholic Christian institution
Today’s college students desire their institutions to invest in their spiritual development cultivating an affective exploration for meaning and purpose. A significant portion (25%) of the students who make up those findings and the current traditional undergraduate student population at four-year institutions identify as Roman Catholic. It is during the college-aged years of 18-23 when individuals who leave the Catholic faith make that decision most frequently citing either a lack of spiritual development or disagreement with the social perspectives of the Catholic Church. Research has shown that Catholic students attending non-Catholic Christian institutions grow as much or more in the spiritual development compared to their peers at Catholic institutions and substantially more than their peers at non-religious institutions. This case study explored the institutional environmental components of a non-Catholic Christian institution on the spiritual and religious experiences of Catholic students. Utilizing Strange and Banning’s (2001) campus ecology conceptual framework, the researcher interviewed 16 Catholic students; six administrators, faculty, and staff who designed the environment; completed direct observations; and analyzed documents to better understand how Catholic students experienced the physical, aggregate, organizational, and constructed environments within the institution.