Education Doctorate

Year Approved


First Advisor

Daniels, Jessica


This study sought to understand the relationship between a sense of purpose and autonomous functioning in young adults. The relationships between the dimensions of purpose (goal orientation, sense of meaning, and beyond-the-self focus) and the dimensions of autonomous functioning (authorship/ self-congruence, interest-taking, and a low susceptibility of control) were also investigated. Further, the results were compared with the independent variables of gender, volunteerism, study aboard interest, and faith community participation. Participants (n = 356) were undergraduate college students at a small private liberal arts Christian institution located in the Midwest of the United States of America. Measures included the Claremont Purpose Scale and the Index of Autonomous Functioning. Pearson correlations were used to analyze the data, and purpose and autonomous functioning were positively correlated. With the exception of the susceptibility of control dimension of autonomous functioning, statistically significant correlations were also found between the dimensions of purpose and the dimensions of autonomous functioning. Women reported higher levels of a sense of purpose and autonomous functioning. Students who were involved in faith communities reported higher levels of autonomous functioning and also were more likely to report a sense of purpose. Finally, volunteerism was only associated with a beyond-the-self focus (one of the dimensions of the Claremont Purpose Scale).

Degree Name

Education Doctorate

Document Type

Doctoral dissertation

Streaming Media