First Advisor

David Willis

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Community College Education






Higher education, College environment, Church colleges



Physical Description

3, x, 118 leaves: ill. 28 cm.


The purpose of this study was to determine if the small liberal arts Christian colleges provide a distinctive environment apart from the traditional classifications of colleges and universities. The environments of the six sample colleges were assessed by administering the Institutional Functioning Inventory (IFI) to faculty and administrators. Statistically significant differences were found among the colleges on eight of the 11 environmental dimensions. However, it was concluded that the colleges constituted a relatively homogeneous group on all dimensions measured except Self-Study and Planning. Total sample means on the 11 scales of the IFI allowed for a generic description of 11 dimensions of the environments at these colleges. They were described as environments low on intellectual-aesthetic extracurriculum activities, human diversity, personal and academic freedom, concern for improving society, and concern for advancing knowledge, while being high on institutional esprit and placing high emphasis on undergraduate teaching and learning. The environments were characterized as having moderate amounts of democratic governance, self-study and planning, innovative educational practices, and programs designed to meet the needs of their immediate communities. The sample colleges differed significantly from both the liberal arts colleges and the four-year state colleges on eight of the IFI scales. When compared to the liberal arts colleges, the most notable differences were the considerably lower scores on Intellectual-Aesthetic Extracurriculum, Freedom, Human Diversity, and Concern for Advancing Knowledge. When compared to the four-year state colleges they were most distinguished by considerably lower scores on Intellectual-Aesthetic Extra curriculum, Freedom, and Human Diversity, and by higher scores on Concern for Undergraduate Learning and Institutional Esprit. The conclusion of the study is that these colleges do provide a unique college environment. It is suggested that additional research focus on other environmental dimensions, student and faculty characteristics, institutional goals, and the value of environments such as these in higher education.


In Copyright. URI: This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).


Portland State University. School of Education.

Persistent Identifier