Saturday, May 24, 2008

SPIRITUALITY AND THE LAW DON'T GO WELL TOGETHER

SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH NETWORK ABSTRACT - This empirical study explores whether a student's spirituality affects academic performance during the first year of study at the University of St. Thomas School of Law (Minnesota). A spirituality index measured 1) frequency of attendance at religious worship, 2) frequency of discussion of religion with others from different faith traditions, 3) the presence and strength of the connection between God and morality, and 4) the presence and strength of the view that entry into the legal profession is a divine calling. The spirituality index was correlated with academic performance measured by comparing actual performance and predicted performance (using the LSAT and the student's undergraduate grade point average). Strong spirituality had a negative correlation with academic performance. Medium and low spirituality had no correlation. And among the third of the students who performed substantially under expectations, the negative correlation was more significant than the broader positive correlation of either the LSAT or the undergraduate grade point average. This study is especially interesting and powerful because the University of St. Thomas School of Law has a strong Catholic identity and affirmatively promotes its faith-based mission at all levels of operation.

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