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This conference paper was originally published as:

Fitzsimmons, P., Kasler, J., & Lanphar, E. (2017). Resonance with the spiritual: Undergraduate frames of thinking in a digital age. In L. Gómez Chova, A. López Martínez, & I. Candel Torres (Eds.), EDULEARN17 Proceedings. Paper presented at The International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies, Palau de Congressos de Catalunya, Barcelona, 3-5 July (pp. 5909-5918). Valencia, Spain: International Academy of Technology, Education and Development (IATED). Abstract retrieved from 10.21125/edulearn.2017.2331

ISBN: 978-84-697-3777-4


130103 Higher Education

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This work unpacks the findings of a qualitative ‘inside-outside’ research project that sought to understand and compare the perceptions of spirituality as understood & experienced by 100 undergraduate students in one Israeli tertiary institution. The respondents represented the overall current Israeli cultural perspectives, albeit a younger framework of thinking. In regard to the overall research background in which this study is located there is growing recognition in the field that “substantial numbers of undergraduate students appear to express a strong interest in spiritual matters” (Astin and Astin 2004: 5). However, with relatively few exceptions, this interest would appear to rarely met with any degree of satisfaction, conclusion or connectivity (Nash & Murray 2010; Astin, Astin, & Lindholm 2011) finding instead higher education has been primarily about “intellectual knowledge—the rational world of theory and ideas” (Tisdel 2002:x). Indeed Flanagan (2007:7) bluntly states, “the one sector of education seemingly exempt from these concerns with spirituality is higher education.” While there is a relatively larger body of research focussing on religiosity in the tertiary sphere and all of its components, even the most cursory review of this literature reveals that beyond the quantitative work of Astin, Astin and Lindholm (2011) there is a great deal of comment but relatively little focussed research (Hyde 2011). However, it would appear that perhaps one of the key inhibitors in this particular research arena has been the ongoing debate in regard to precisely what spirituality is (Subiondo 2011:31). This debate too has become an area of intense focus (Hyde 2008), with a gathering consensus that due to the subjective nature of the spiritual experience, nailing down this concept has proven to be extremely difficult. Insisting that understanding the precise nature of spirituality is an imperative, Hyde (2011: 235) also suggests that overall “little empirical research has emanated which explores this.” As for a cross-cultural understanding of tertiary students’ perceptions in general, and Israel in particular, an initial literature review reveals only one quantitative research agenda has been published. What emerged from this research agenda was a framework of viewing spirituality as a ‘core of being’. Surprisingly, this perspective was generally situated within a new age frame of perception for all the cultural groups represented, and stood in direct contrast to the socio-religious belief structures of previous generations.


Used by permission: EDULEARN17 Technical Secretariat, International Academy of Technology, Education and Development (IATED) and the author.

© 2017 IATED Academy

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