An analysis of the impact of learning environment factors on retention and attrition in adult Sunday School classes

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An analysis of the impact of learning environment factors on retention and attrition in adult Sunday School classes

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Title: An analysis of the impact of learning environment factors on retention and attrition in adult Sunday School classes
Author: Wilson, Darryl Haskel
Advisor: Pettegrew, Hal Kenton
Abstract: This dissertation identified and analyzed the impact of learning environment factors on the retention and attrition of members of adult Sunday School classes in Kentucky Baptist Convention churches. The study was delimited to spiritual, physical, and social learning environment factors internal to adult classes meeting at church on Sunday led by the same teacher for the previous twelve months. The research questions focused on the strength and relationships of these factors and demographic data gathered.

Precedent literature was investigated next. First, since adults in Sunday School study the Bible, an understanding of the impact of God and theological assumptions was presented. Then, adult learning assumptions, learning environment factors, and retention and attrition (assimilation) issues were applied to the context of adult Sunday School classes. Because limited literature was available addressing these issues in the church, resources from a diversity of fields were utilized, analyzed, and applied to this setting.

The methodological design of the research involved creating and validating a research instrument, contacting and training church leaders, surveying classes on Sunday morning, and mailing instruments to no/low attenders. The random proportionally stratified sample included teachers and members of adult classes in nineteen KBC churches of the Long Run Baptist Association (Louisville area). The two instruments (teacher and member) contained seventy-two statements utilizing a Likert response scale along with twenty-two and sixteen demographic variables, respectively. Chronbach alpha reliability testing of the 762 instruments produced a score of .8801.

In the analysis of findings, means, modes, medians, standard deviations, rankings, cross tabulations, percentages, and ANOVA data were provided to help answer the six research questions. The statements were combined into twenty-four triangulated learning environment factors in response to precedent literature. The strength of spiritual, physical, and social factors were examined along with the impact of retention (high/average attenders) and attrition (low/no attenders) and various demographic variables. Tables and figures helped to display findings in helpful ways.

Conclusions drawn from the research findings were that spiritual and social learning environment factors did impact retention and attrition of the adult Sunday School classes in the sample. The impact of friends upon high/average attenders was evident, as was the impact of the teacher upon low/no attenders. Even though physical factors did not impact retention and attrition, several findings need application in the local church such as flexibility and physical arrangement. Several suggestions for further research were presented, including replication and utilization of the instrumentation and methodology in other locations and other denominations. Focusing on part of the learning environment factors could also produce helpful results.

Description: This item is only available to students and faculty of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. If you are not associated with SBTS, this dissertation may be purchased from or downloaded through ProQuest's Dissertation and Theses database if your institution subscribes to that service.
Date: 2003-05-01

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