First Advisor

Mary Kinnick

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership


Educational Leadership and Policy




Adult education, Ego (Psychology), College environment -- United States



Physical Description

1 online resource (3, vii, 151 pages)


This study was based on the premise that one outcome of education is ego development. The research was based on Jane Loevinger's theory that ego development is the central frame-of-reference through which people view themselves and their relationships with others. The study looked for evidence of ego development in adult students and for contributing factors, including academic environments. It compared the ego levels of students aged 35 to 55 at two higher education institutes and some experiences that are common to most colleges.

The variables compared were based on Loevinger's levels of ego development and theories of academic environments of Moos, Pace, and Knefelkamp. The variables used were: ego development, type of school, background characteristics, relations with faculty, enthusiasm about school, opinions about academic environment and estimates of gains.

The study was done in two stages. Five hundred forty students responded to a questionnaire on background characteristics and selected portions of Pace's Measuring the Quality of College Student Experiences. From this group, 150 students were mailed Loevinger's Sentence Completion Test and 85 were returned. Study findings provided an opportunity to expand the knowledge about the ego levels of adult students.

Statistical analyses included chi-square and ANOVA. No statistically significant change in ego levels was found. No statistically significant differences were found between the ego levels of the students by schools or background characteristics.

There were differences in how the two total populations responded to the questionnaire about school, environment and personal gains. Students attending the small liberal arts college indicated that they were more enthusiastic about college, felt that their school placed a stronger emphasis on both the subjective and objective outcomes of college. These students felt that their school placed a higher emphasis on interpersonal relationships.

The students from the small liberal arts college were more likely to say that they had gained the most personally. Personal gains included development of values and standards, understanding of self, and the ability to work with others. These are characteristics that are indicative of ego growth.

Recommendations included additional research into maximizing developmental environments of adult students and faculty education on adult development and learning styles.


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