The Use of Gratitude as a Spiritual Discipline in the Spiritual Formation of Online Students at Point University
This project in the category of spirituality examines the usefulness of gratitude as a spiritual discipline in the spiritual formation of students at Point University. The students participated in an eight-week synchronous and asynchronous experience facilitated through the University’s learning management system. A One-Group Pre-test/Post-test quasi-experimental design was used to measure the frequency with which students expressed and/or experienced gratitude in their day to day lives across six areas: God, self, family, community/others, suffering, and grace. Qualitative measures included interview responses and Count Your Blessings forum posts. Quantitative data was collected from pre and post surveys. The quantitative data infers that there was an increase in the students’ awareness of God in their day-to-day experiences through the practice of gratitude. The self-reported subjective qualitative data provided by the students in the interview and the forum supports the inferences of the quantitative data that the students’ awareness of God had increased during the project using gratitude as a discipline. Recommendations for further study include using a larger sample and incorporating additional experiences such as virtual life groups and online service projects. Another recommendation is to consider exploring gender differences in student participation in spiritual formational programs.