Following the administration of the CSBV pilot survey in spring 2003, the HERI research team performed a number of preliminary analyses of the survey data in order to determine the feasibility of developing scales measuring various aspects of the students’ religious and spiritual life and development. This process was a complex combination of hypothesis-testing and empirical exploration where we sought to identify clusters of items that had consistent and coherent content and that simultaneously demonstrated a high degree of statistical internal consistency.

After each analysis the research team discussed the resulting solution at length, collectively deciding whether additional analyses were needed. Once a promising potential scale was identified, a reliability analysis (Cronbach Alpha) was performed in order to eliminate items that were not contributing to scale reliability. The resulting scale was then correlated with other items in the questionnaire in order to (a) identify other possible items that could be added to the scale and (b) explore the scale’s construct validity (i.e., does it correlate in expected ways with other items and other scales?) An item that appeared to belong on more than one scale was either omitted or placed on the scale with which it had the highest correlation. Note that, in order to avoid any experimental dependence among the scales, no item was used in more than one scale.

Although 19 scales were initially developed, the study focuses on 10 that directly relate to spirituality (5 scales) and religiousness (5 scales). Some of the 19 scales were omitted because they were not directly related to spiritual/religious constructs or because they were not relevant to the experiences of college students. The research team developed cut-off points to identify low, medium, and high scorers, which enabled them to make meaning of the scores, interpret individual changes in scores during college, and compare scores across various groups (“How do men and women compare in the proportion who score high on Equanimity?”).