Date of Conferral







Stephanie Cawthon


Previous research has shown that 80% of college students have reported they are interested in spirituality. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore the experiences of female students while studying Old Testament scriptures as part of their required liberal arts curriculum and to describe how their experiences affected their lives, spiritually or in other ways. While there is a small but growing body of survey data about students' interest in spirituality, a gap exists regarding how or in what ways required biblical curriculum affects students spiritually at Christian liberal arts universities. Fowler's faith stages, Gibson's model for spiritual development, and Thayer's spirituality scales, derived from learning theory, provided the conceptual framework and guided the interpretation of findings. Thirteen female students, the class professor, and his classroom manager participated in face-to-face interviews. The constant comparative method was used for content analysis to identify, code, and group meaningful statements into salient themes and organize them into 5 primary domains. Students reported the study of scriptures increased their faith in and spiritual connection to God, helped them internalize and articulate their Christian beliefs, and eased their transition into college, because they applied biblical lessons to their everyday lives. The results of this study have implications for positive social change by adding to the knowledge of spirituality in Christian higher education. At the student level, the implications for social change are positive attitude and lifestyle changes, improved relationships with family, and having meaning and purpose in life. At the institutional level, the results provide insight for developing effective curriculum that meets the needs and expectations of students, which can lead to greater student retention and persistence to graduation.