Date of Completion


Embargo Period



academic achievement, achievement gap, adolescence, faith-based, group participation, religion, religiosity

Major Advisor

Robert Colbert

Associate Advisor

H. Jane Rogers

Associate Advisor

Erik Hines

Field of Study

Educational Psychology


Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Campus Access


The majority of adolescents struggle through puberty in search of their own identity while straying away from their parental influences. Puberty is a transitional time for adolescents, while experiencing hormonal changes, and school changes (transitioning to high school) it is vital to their development to have positive supports systems both in the home and in the community. As the majority of Americans identify with a religious affiliation, the religious environment can be an important means of support for adolescents. While researchers highlight the significance of contextual influences that religious participation has on academic achievement, none focused on the relationship that faith-based youth group participation has on academic achievement.

This study investigated the nature of the relationship between religious youth group participation and high school student academic achievement.

Participants for this study were 210 high school students (13-19 years) who attend church in Connecticut. This study included 7 Christian churches that either identified as “Mega” churches or churches with congregations of roughly 400 members. The participants in the study received a questionnaire that examined students’ beliefs about religion, their perceptions about education and the frequencies of their participation in various religious based activities. Findings from this current study supported three main themes. First, that religious participation is significantly correlated to grade point average. Next, students who value education achieve academically more so than their peers that do not value education.

Finally, students who held positive beliefs about the function of religion in their lives scored higher in their grade point averages. Utilizing the participants’ scores on various questions about the beliefs about religion and perceptions about education are presented along with possible implications and suggestions for future research.