Professional Dissertations DMin
Utilizing Personality Theory To Help High School Students Find Meaningful Spiritual Growth Practices at Portland Adventist Academy in Portland, Oregon
Date of Award
Doctor of Ministry
Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary
Doctor of Ministry DMin
S. Joseph Kidder
Some students at Portland Adventist Academy (PAA) struggle to connect with God and many never develop personal habits of connecting with God or learn how to grow into mature relationships with God.
I developed twelve devotional habits designed for different personality types. Six of the habits focused on prayer and six on Scripture. I taught six religion classes for three weeks, collecting data from 100 junior and senior PAA students. Their ages spanned from 15 to 19: two students were 15 years old, thirty-eight were 16, thirty-eight were 17, twenty were 18, and two were 19. They were fairly evenly dispersed with regard to gender: fifty students identified male, forty-nine female, and one preferred not to indicate gender. With the exception of some introductory and conclusory lectures, discussions, and activities, the majority of the class periods were spent with the students practicing the devotional habits and giving me feedback. Throughout the experience, I administered several digital questionnaires to the participants using Google Forms: before we began the experience a Big Five personality instrument–Soto and John’s BFI-2 (2017), after each devotional habit exercise the Spiritual Exercise Perceived Efficacy Assessment (SEPEA), on the final day of the threeweek period an experience overview assessment, and four months later, a slightly altered version of that final assessment. A mixed methods approach, the questionnaires collected both quantitative and qualitative data, which I analyzed in Excel and SPSS.
On both final assessments (90 participants filled out the first and 95 the second), over 71% of the participants reported the experience helped them find more meaningful ways of connecting with God. Over 70 students indicated they repeated or planned to repeat an entire habit or an activity within a habit in both the first and second final assessment. The SEPEA received positive face validity feedback and demonstrated high internal consistency, but criterion validity checks were inconclusive. I found significant correlations between personality traits and some devotional habits (for example, with N = 97, Pearson’s r = 0.369 for agreeableness and the sixth devotional habit and r = 0.323 and 0.328 for the habits designed for habits designed for those high in Perception and Intuitiveness on the Myers-Briggs respectively) and activities (for example, with N = 91, Pearson’s r = 0.319 for extraversion and group sharing activities) suggesting several personality-score-derived recommendations for spiritual practices. I saw the highest correlations between the habits themselves. When asked for feedback about the overall experience, 98 students gave some kind of positive feedback. Both quantitative results and quantitative feedback provided insights regarding changes that could be made to the intervention to make it more effective in similar contexts in the future.
This intervention is a viable way to help high school students find meaningful spiritual practices because it provides open, social, and experiential activities in a safe spiritual environment and has many spiritually positive results. These results provide more robust research support for existing literature that claims a relationship between personality and spiritual practice preferences. It also suggests, if working with a large group and using these same habits, one should introduce the habits in the order L3, L1, S6, S3, L2, S1, S2, S7, S5, S4, S8, L4 (See Appendix F for the list of habits). An additional finding suggests The SEPEA is a viable instrument for measuring perceptions of spiritual activities, but its implications and usefulness need to be further explored by use in one-on-one spiritual direction, comparison with other spirituality measures, and use with larger and varying groups. The intervention’s effect on spiritual maturation should be researched further, as well as its ability to further connect personality and spirituality if habits were designed around Big Five rather than MBTI personality factors.
Personality--Religious aspects--Seventh-day Adventists; Seventh-day Adventist youth--Spiritual life; Seventh-day Adventist high school students--Spiritual life; Portland Adventist Academy (Oregon)
Moor, Jonny Wesley, "Utilizing Personality Theory To Help High School Students Find Meaningful Spiritual Growth Practices at Portland Adventist Academy in Portland, Oregon" (2022). Professional Dissertations DMin. 768.
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