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ERIC Number: EJ1064605
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Oct-15
Pages: N/A
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-1938-5978
The Emergence of Three Distinct Worldviews among American College Students
Keysar, Ariela
New England Journal of Higher Education, Oct 2013
American college students' worldviews affect what they value, the way they behave and potentially how they learn. The study described in this article finds that today's students are divided not dichotomously, between religious and secular, but rather among three distinct worldviews: religious, secular, and spiritual. The author asserts that institutions of higher education need to understand the distinctions among these three worldviews and design curricula that respect students' diversity. Higher education institutions, like the American population at large, are heterogeneous. So there is no single way to teach millions of students. A student's worldview is not as easy to detect as his or her race or gender, yet sensitivity to it is easily as important as sensitivity to gender and race differences. The study, by the author and professor Barry A. Kosmin, in conjunction with the Center for Inquiry (CFI), is based on a national survey and is part of the American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) series. It was conducted during April and May 2013 at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. Drawn from a random sample of publicly available email addresses, more than 1,800 students took part in the online survey in whole or in part, representing 38 four-year colleges and universities. While not a strictly representative sample, it was geographically stratified and designed to capture a variety of institutions of higher education: state and private, religious and secular. As a result, responding students represent a wide spectrum of American students and closely reflect the overall American student population in gender, race and year of study. U.S. college students participating in ARIS 2013 were asked, "In general would you describe yourself more as a religious, spiritual, or secular person? Select one." They were nearly evenly divided among the three distinct worldviews: 32% religious, 28% secular, 32% spiritual, and 8% don't know/not sure. It is important to emphasize that the religious are in minority. Like bellwethers, college students are in the forefront of a more secular American society. This brief article describes the results of the survey, including differences between religious and secular students in choice of major, gender differences, belief in miracles, belief in reason/rationalism, belief in evolution/Darwinism vs. creationism/intelligent design, and religious identification. The article concludes that in a world where gender identities are multiplying and racial/ethnic identification is getting blurrier, students' worldviews appear to be rather distinct and well-formed. Not to mention evenly balanced--about one-third religious, one-third secular, and one-third spiritual.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A