Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Curriculum and Instruction PhD

First Advisor

Ruth R. Murdoch

Second Advisor

George A. Akers

Third Advisor

Robert Cruise


Problem. During the last ten years there has been a surge of Interest among college students in short-term volunteer missionary service. It was the purpose of the present study to describe the personality, attitudes, and overseas experience of a group of 150 Seventh-day Adventist college students who served as short-term volunteer missionaries (student missionaries) during the 1975-76 school year. Method The Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire (Form A), a series of semantic differential rating scales for selected religious, mission, cultural, and personal concepts, and a two-part questlonnaire were used to describe the personality, attitudes, and overseas experience of the student missionaries. Cattell's Coefficient of Pattern Similarity (rp) was used to compare the preservice and postservice personality and attitude profiles of the student missionaries and the profiles of different subgroups within the population. The data from the questionnaire were analyzed using percentage comparisons.

Results. Among the most Important results obtained were indications of significant relationships between the personality of the student missionaries and the college students on which the testing instrument was normed (rp = +.370 at p < .03); the preservice and postservice personality profiles (rp * +.899 at p ^ .01); the preservice and postservice attitude profiles (rp * -.293 at p ^ .05); and the attitude profiles of student missionary returnees who had served at language schools and those who served at other locations (rp * -.374 at p ^ .01). All concepts were rated positively, with the religious ones receiving the highest ratings and the cultural ones the lowest. Ratings of the self (Me) showed no significant difference between appointees and returnees. The most distinguishing personality characteristic of the group was their high rating on self-control. Former student missionaries played the most influential role in encouraging these students to serve overseas. Over half of the group served in the Far East and most served for ten to twelve months. Teaching was the main work responsibility of three-fourths of the group. Most of the student missionaries worked with nationals almost all of the time. The majority were happy with their opportunities for witnessing while overseas. The student missionaries felt that one of their most important contributions while overseas was their personal relationships with students. The group felt that orientation procedures needed Improvement. Several areas of personal adjustment while in the field and upon returning to North America were identified. Most of the student missionaries felt that they had experienced growth toward personal maturity and their personal religious experience had been strengthened while serving as a student missionary. The majority felt that their work was a definite contribution to the field. Over 80 percent of the returnees indicated that they were considering overseas mission service for a lifework.

Conclusions. The personality of the student missionaries represented a normal distribution of traits somewhat as might be expected from a group of college students. Their one distinguishing characteristic was high self-control. The basic personality structure and the self-concept appeared to remain stable during the overseas experience. The subjects went to the field and returned with very favorable attitudes toward missions. One of the strengths of the student missionary appears to be his ability to relate on a personal level with nationals in the country where he serves. Student missionary service seems to have strengthened religious commitment, aided growth toward personal maturity, and encouraged the participants to make a commitment to lifetime missionary service.

Subject Area

Missionaries, Student


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