The Effects of Religiosity on Academic Motivation
Sponsored by Missouri Western State University Sponsored by a grant from the National Science Foundation DUE-97-51113
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The proper APA Style reference for this manuscript is:
Taylor, S. A. (2004). The Effects of Religiosity on Academic Motivation. National Undergraduate Research Clearinghouse, 7. Available online at http://www.webclearinghouse.net/volume/. Retrieved September 21, 2017 .

The Effects of Religiosity on Academic Motivation
SCOTT A. TAYLOR
Missouri Western State University DEPARTMENT OF PSYCHOLOGY

Sponsored by: Brian Cronk (cronk@missouriwestern.edu)
ABSTRACT
In the past, there have been studies that showed the effect of religiosity on life satisfaction, honesty, and many other factors (Nelson, 2002). This study looked to see if religiosity had an effect on academic motivation. There wasn’t an overall effect, but religiosity did seem to have a negative impact on how much a person enjoys school, and a positive relationship to how determined they were to graduate. The lack of school enjoyment may spring from being taught things that go against their belief system. This would cause people who are more religious to find school frustrating. This study, if duplicated, may need to find different indicators of academic motivation to see if there is an effect on another area.

INTRODUCTION
There have long been studies showing different relationships between motivation and religiosity. Motivation is the “backbone of the mind” (Oppenheimer, 1949). Motives are what drive us to do, or be, more than we currently are. Without motivation we would simply stay where we are, satisfied yet unmoved, having no desire to change. Motivation is our gateway to growth. While motivation is a fairly well understood concept, religiosity is a much more subjective idea. Many people have different views on how to rate religiosity. Nelson (2002) says that religiosity can be measured by rating prayer frequency, religious belief, importance, and church attendance in Christians. Nelson did a study correlation these variables to life satisfaction. She found a significant relationship between life satisfaction and religiosity. As you can assume, there are many ways that you would be able to study the effects that religiosity and motivation have on one another. Religious motivation has been at the forefront of many psychological studies. Logan (2002) states that many religious practices, such as confession, are driven by these motivations. This is supported by the fact that the non-religious person does not participate in similar, non-religious practices in their daily life. There are many studies that support the idea that religiosity is responsible for many different motivations in one’s life. One theory for the cause of their motivation is the idea that the religious person wants to have God control their life (Jackson, 1988). This idea allows for a person to rely on God to help make their decisions, rather than doing it alone. The amount of “God-control” is a good predictor of intrinsic religious motivation. This is to say that the more a person relies on God, the more motivated a person will be when carrying on their decision. The final idea of religiosity and motivation is to see the combined effect on behavior. Trimble (1996) found that people with a greater amount of intrinsic religiousness had a greater religious behavioral response set. He also found a negative relationship between extrinsic religiousness and behavior. This seems to support the thought that a person who believes deeply in their religion will respond differently than those who are less religious. This discovery got me curious to see how far the effects of religiosity will range on motivation. If people who are more religious will behave differently than those who are not religious, to what extent does this theory apply? The purpose of this study is to see if the students who are religious are more academically motivated than those students who are non-religious.


METHOD

PARTICIPANTS
Forty-one college students from Missouri Western State College were given a survey that rated different indicators of academic motivation against their level of religiosity. These students were all members of upper level psychology classes. They were chosen based on the fact that they had been in school more than one semester and their information would be more reliable.

MATERIALS
A survey was constructed to rate indicators of academic motivation. This includes such items as the amount of classes skipped, on average, per semester and the amount of time the individual spends studying per week (see appendix A). There was also a question that asked them to rate their religiosity based on the amount of time they spent practicing and its importance in their life.

PROCEDURE
This paper and pencil survey was given to the forty-one students and the data was entered into SPSS. This program was used to run a correlation between religiosity and the different indicators of academic motivation.


RESULTS
A Pearson correlation was calculated examining the relationship between religiosity and the number of classes a person skipped during a semester. A weak correlation that was not significant was found (r(40) = -0.156, p>.05). Religiosity does not relate to the amount of classes skipped per semester. A Pearson correlation was calculated examining the relationship between religiosity and the amount of time a person spends studying during the course of a week. A weak correlation that was not significant was found (r(40) = 0.184, p>.05). Religiosity does not relate to the amount of time spent studying during the week. A Pearson correlation was calculated examining the relationship between religiosity and the participants GPA. A weak correlation that was not significant was found (r(40) = 0.146, p>.05). Religiosity does not relate to GPA. A Pearson correlation was calculated examining the relationship between religiosity and how much the participant enjoyed school. A moderate negative correlation was found (r(40) = -0.327, p>.05), indicating a significant linear relationship between the two variables. People who are more religious seem to enjoy school than those who are less religious. A Pearson correlation was calculated examining the relationship between religiosity and how determined the participant was to graduate. A moderate positive correlation was found (r(40) = 0.344, p>.05), indicating a significant linear relationship between the two variables. People who are more religious seem to be more determined to graduate than those who are less religious.


DISCUSSION
While the overall effects were not significant, there were two factors that were significantly related to religiosity. I found it interesting that there was a negative relationship between religiosity and how much the person enjoys school, and a positive relationship between religiosity and how determined a person was to graduate. This is to say that a person who has a high level of religiosity will be more determined to graduate, but will enjoy school less than a person who has a lower level of religiosity. One reason that this may be is that some of the information taught on college campuses tends to threaten a persons religious beliefs (for instance the evolutionary theory taught in most science classes). This could cause people with high levels of religiosity to find school less enjoyable than others do. This study seems to go against the Nelson (2002) study that showed a relationship between religiosity and satisfaction. If you consider the similarity between satisfaction and enjoyment, students that are more religious seem to be less satisfied. This may change after graduation when the student can choose the things they allow themselves to be taught and hear. The satisfaction may come from simply not hearing contradictory arguments from people in a position of authority. There did not seem to be an overall effect, as Logan (2002) suggests, that persists over a persons general behavior. Logan said that people who are more religious are more motivated in general due to the amount of activities carried out by someone who is religious and that there are no similar activities carried out by those who are not religious ( for instance confession, prayer and others). This did not seem to hold true in this study. Religiosity did not seem to have a significant relationship to academic motivation in general. If someone were to extend this study, I would suggest that they find different indicators of academic motivation. The indicators chosen in this study were good indicators, but not ones that were affected greatly by religiosity. There may be other indicators that would show a larger affect. The subject of religiosity and college students is one that has yet to extensively covered, and may show many useful results in the future. This is an area that should be studied and the results shared with the public, but mostly students entering college. It would help provide them with information that may help them in their academic pursuit


REFERENCES
Jackson, L. E. (1988). The relationship of God control and internal locus of control to intrinsic religious motivation, coping and purpose in life. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 399-410.Logan, K. A. (2002). Religious motivation, confessional practices and perceived well-being among protestant Christians. Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The Sciences and Engineering, 1037.Nelson, S. A. (2002). The relationship between life satisfaction and intrinsic religiosity, prayer frequency, religious belief, importance, and church attendance in Christians. Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The Sciences and Engineering, 1550.Oppenheimer, O. (1949). The structure of the mind. Journal of General Psychology, 257-259.Trimble, D. E. (1996). The effects of religious motivation on behavior. Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The Sciences and Engineering, 4095.


APPENDIX
1. How many classes have you skipped on average per semester?

0 1- 3- 5- more than 6

2. How many hours per week on average do you study per course?

Less than 1 1-3 4-6 7 -more than 9

3. What is your current GPA?

Less than 2.0 2.0-2.5 2.6-3.0 3.1-3.5 3.6-4.0

4. How much do you enjoy going to school (1 being not at all, 5 being very much)

1 2 3 4 5

5. How determined are you to graduate?

1 2 3 4 5

6. Why are you pursuing a higher education?

7. Please rate your religiosity (this includes time spent practicing your religion, and its importance to your life. 1 being not religious and 5 being very religious).

1 2 3 4 5

Submitted 12/10/2004 8:42:09 AM
Last Edited 12/10/2004 9:02:29 AM
Converted to New Site 03/09/2009

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