Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



College of Education


This investigation compared the influence of public and Christian high schools on the spiritual formation and academic achievement of college students. Recent high school graduates who attend a private, liberal arts university in the southeastern United States responded to an online survey and interview questions related to the influence of one’s high school experience on spiritual formation and academic achievement. Significant differences were found between high school type and the type of problems faced by students and teachers, students’ ability to intelligently defend their faith, and students’ perceived ability to function in a diverse world. Significant differences favoring Christian school graduates were also found related to high school’s influence on taking college classes seriously, helping others, defending beliefs, sharing their faith, appreciation for other cultures, taking responsibility for actions, ability to receive constructive feedback, and being honest with oneself. Suggestions for educational improvement from both public and private high school graduates include: the need for hiring and retaining inspiring teachers who model moral behavior daily; the need for school personnel to listen to students and involve them in decision making; better problem-solving skills by school administrators; less favoritism shown to certain students by teachers and administrators; greater focus on authentic learning in real-world contexts; and the need for academic freedom to discuss critical issues without fear of retribution by teachers, administrators, or other students.


This research was funded in part by Cardus, a Canadian public policy think tank and by Southeastern University.

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AERA presentation.ppsx (1102 kB)
AERA Presentation (PowerPoint)