Date of Award

December 2019

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Educational Leadership - Higher Education

Committee Member

Michelle L Boettcher

Committee Member

Tony W Cawthon

Committee Member

Matthew Boyer

Committee Member

Hans W Klar

Abstract

The purpose of this dissertation was to explore the role that self-reflection has in the spiritual quest to make meaning of experience. It also examined how spiritual quest can operate within moments of spiritual struggle in order to make meaning of the experience through a process of self-reflection. In the literature view, relevant theories and concepts by preeminent scholars in the field of spirituality were examined. Though the spirituality of students in higher education was discussed in the literature, as well as the concepts of self-reflection (Bassot, 2013, Grossman, 2009), spiritual quest (Astin, Astin & Lindholm, 2011; Vaughan, 2002), and spiritual struggle (Bryant & Astin, 2008), a gap was identified through the missing example of how students might use a process of self-reflection to support their spiritual quest to make meaning of life experiences (including instances of spiritual struggle).

Scholarly personal narrative (Nash & Bradley, 2011) is the qualitative methodology used, and it is about conveying the personal narrative of life experiences organized in themes, and then using the literature to systematically examine them in order to draw universalizable insights that enhances the literature. In the following study, I used a structured process of self-reflection to draw spiritual meaning from life experiences, which were organized into the following themes: relationship, leadership, career, and education. A total of eight experiences (four themes subdivided into spiritual quest and spiritual struggle) were then examined in the following structure: description, reaction, insights. Finally, the insights were examined with the literature and then their implications, recommendations, and future research was discussed.

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