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Study seeks better data on Christian college outcomes

Universities associated with Churches of Christ often compete for students, reputation and funding. But now they’re working together on a major research project through the Christian higher Education Foundation.
Oklahoma Christian University President Mike O’Neal    the foundation’s president    said the project’s first phase has three primary objectives:

  • To get more reliable data from churches on the percentage of high school seniors who attend a Christian college or university
  • To determine what factors cause families to choose various church and non-church universities.
  • To determine the impact of Christian universities on churches and marriages.

“The most reliable data regarding the percentage of Church of Christ seniors matriculating to our schools is 15 to 20 years old, and the presidents felt we needed to have better information as we make the case for Christian education,” O’Neal said.
Foundation members participating in the study include the presidents of Abilene Christian University, Cascade College, Faulkner University, Freed-Hardeman University, Harding University, Heritage Christian University, Lipscomb University, Lubbock Christian University, Magnolia Bible College, Oklahoma Christian, Southwest Chrsitian College and York College.
Flavil Yeakley of the Harding Center for Church Growth is directing the fist phase of the research project. His study will include a survey of 19,000 students at the 12 participating institutions, a survey of people who graduated from those institutions, a survey of campus ministry leaders and Christian students attending state-supported schools, and a study of more than 1,000 churches.
Plans call for sending survey forms to churches in June. Among the data the researches hope to accumulate: the number of young people who no longer attend a congregation after they leave home; the divorce rate among those growing up in the church; and how many oung people now have any kind of church leadership or service role.
“The bottom line for the church is, this is going to give us the first real data in about a decade or two on what is our retention rate right now,” Yeakley said. for the churches that participate in the survey, he said, “It’s going to open their eyes to how good a job they’ve been doing with their own young people.”
Tom Milholland of Abilene Christian University will direct the study’s second phase, using a nationwide survey by UCLA to compare attitudes, beliefs, values and behaviors of students at Christian colleges with students at state-supported schools who identify “Church of Christ” as their religious affiliation.

Filed under: National Staff Reports

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