Keywords: Spirituality, religion, mindfulness, enlightenment

Introduction to Spiritual Awareness

Spiritual awareness is a concept that involves an individual being conscientious about their surrounding world and the understanding one has of their role in its existence.  It also involves how one determines meaning in their interactions with others and of their own knowledge, skills, and behaviors (Tisdell, 2003).  Student affairs professionals are often concerned with measuring the growth and development of a student’s spiritual awareness throughout their college education.  If someone were to ask a graduating student who they are, it’s likely that the student would reply with facets of spiritual awareness.  For example, they might discuss how their beliefs and opinions have changed, or how they feel like they have developed an authentic identity.  How have students developed a better understanding of themselves and others, and how has their purpose in life been altered?  

When Would You Measure Spiritual Awareness?

Student affairs professionals may want to measure spiritual awareness if their goal is to gauge:

  • If a student’s meaning of life has changed due to a program/experience
  • How beliefs in a higher power change over time
  • Understanding about how changing thought processes can change behaviors
  • Development of psychosocial and faith-based values
  • Both religious and non-religious spiritual perceptions



Those wanting to measure spiritual awareness may find it helpful to start their research by reviewing similar evidence-based literature:

Stages of Faith from Infancy through Adolesence: Reflections on Three Decades of Faith Development Theory (Folwer & Dell, 2006)

  • Fowler originally produced theory on his “stages of faith” in 1981; this article provides a review of that originally theory. In addition, this research details the progression that humans have in regards to their spiritual development and meaning. 


Defining Spiritual Development: A Missing Consideration for Student Affairs (Love & Talbot, 1999)

  • The authors aim to bridge the gap for the discussion of spirituality that is often avoided in higher education practices due to its controversial content. This research provides a general overview of spiritual theory and its usage in student affairs. 


Role of Spirituality and Spiritual Development in Student Life Outside the Classroom (Capeheart-Meningall, 2005)

  • This research provides examples of other constructs student affairs professionals also measure when attempting to measure spiritual awareness. Furthermore, they provide steps to integrate spiritual awareness into student affairs programs and services. 


Frequently Used Instruments/Measures

The following instruments/measures have been used to assess spiritual awareness:

  • The Spiritual Well-Being Scale
  • Values Preference Indicator (VPI)
  • The Inventory of Religious Activities and Interests (IRAI)


Don’t Think This Construct Matches Your Assessment Goals? Check Out These Related Constructs: Belongingness, Engagement

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