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SA 21 A SPOT SURVEY EXERCISE

Cabrera, Cahulogan, Ong, Rojas, Tolosa, Wu

Daniel Marsula/Post-Gazette

How strong is the religious belief of Atenean students?


SA 21 A | Spot Survey Exercise | Cabrera, Cahulogan, Ong, Rojas, Tolosa, Wu

The Ateneo de Manila University is one of the premiere academic institutions in the
Philippines. Being a Catholic school, there is an underlying assumption that most Atenean
students are not only part of the aforementioned faith but are also devout believers. This
research intends to shed light on the influence of religion in the Ateneo.

Research Problem

How strong is the religious belief of Atenean students?

Objectives

The research aims to !

1. Quantify the subjective feelings of respondents about their religion.


2. Reveal correlations between the religions and high schools attended by the
respondents, and their religiosity and spirituality.
3. Inform the Ateneo community about the varying religious sentiments of Loyola
Schools students.

Assumptions

The research intends to prove or disprove the following assumptions:

1. Most Atenean students are devout religious believers.


2. Students who attended public high schools are less likely to have positive
sentiments about religion and spirituality.
3. Students who attended private sectarian high schools are more likely to have
positive sentiments about religion and spirituality.

M ethodology

The independent variables to be tested were the religion of the respondent (Catholic
/ non-Catholic) and the high school that the respondent attended (private sectarian / private
non-sectarian / public). The dependent variable to be tested was the respondent’s level of
religious belief and devotion.

The research method employed in this research is the survey. The survey form
contained the following questions:

1. What is your religion?


o Catholic
o Non-Catholic
2. What kind of high school did you attend?
o Private Sectarian
o Private Non-Sectarian
o Public
3. How frequently do you practice your religion?
o Never
o Seldom
SA 21 A | Spot Survey Exercise | Cabrera, Cahulogan, Ong, Rojas, Tolosa, Wu

o Sometimes
o Most of the time
o Always
4. Rank the following in terms of priority (5 being the highest and 1 being the lowest):
__ God, __ Family, __ Friends, __ Academics, __ Extra-Curricular Activities
5. How strong is your faith? (Check the statement which you agree with most.)
o I am in my religion because I have no choice.
o I only turn to my religion when I am in need.
o I turn to my religion whenever it is convenient for me.
o I have complete faith in my religion.

Survey questions 1 and 2 will be referred to as Descriptive Question (DQ) 1 and 2,


respectively. Survey questions 3, 4, and 5 will be termed as Substantive Question (SQ) A,
B, and C, respectively.

The responses to DQ 1 and DQ 2 were abbreviated as follows: C – Catholic, NC –


Non-Catholic, PS – Private Sectarian, PN – Private Non-Sectarian, P – Public.

Numerical equivalents were assigned to SQ A and SQ C. For SQ A, the answer


“Never” has a numerical value of 1, “Seldom” 2, “Sometimes” 3, “Most of the time” 4, and
“Always” 5. For SQ C, the first statement (I am in ! no choice) has a numerical value of 1,
the second statement 2, and so on.

The survey forms were distributed in the following manner: 5 forms in Berchman’s
Hall Room 105 at 10:30 A.M.; 30 forms at the extension of Kostka Hall at 10:30 A.M.; 10
forms at JGSOM Student Enterprise Center at 12:00 P.M.; 5 forms in the Cervini Hall lobby
at 12:00 P.M. The survey results may be found on Appendix A.

Fig 1. Researcher distributing survey forms.


SA 21 A | Spot Survey Exercise | Cabrera, Cahulogan, Ong, Rojas, Tolosa, Wu

Presentation and Analysis of Data

The data collected in this exercise should be scrutinized with respect to the profile of
the 50-person sample based on DQ 1 and DQ 2. Generally, patterns and recurrences may
be found in the results from Catholic respondents under DQ 1 and respondents from private
sectarian high schools under DQ 2. The following tables clarify the aforementioned
circumstance and account for similar circumstances unnoticed by the researchers.

Table 1. Sample Profile Based on Descriptive Question 1

Religion Quantity
C 42
NC 8

Table 2. Sample Profile Based on Descriptive Question 2

High School Quantity


PS 33
PN 9
P 8

Table 3. Sample Profile Based on Descriptive Questions 1 and 2

Religion and High School Quantity


C & PS 28
NC & PS 5
C & PN 7
NC & PN 2
C&P 7
NC & P 1

The limited sample size of the entire survey and of each category (e.g., NC, P, or C
& PN, among others) may pose some difficulties in statistical analyses and in the formation
of generalizations based on the data. Conclusions made on this exercise must be taken
critically; larger sample sizes and alternative methodologies may lead to different results.

Table 4. Tally for Substantive Question A Based on Descriptive Question 1

Religion 1 2 3 4 5
C 2 6 12 15 7
NC 1 0 1 3 3

A significant portion of the respondents (41 out of 50) reveals that the frequency of
their religious practice lies on the range of “Sometimes” (numerical value of 3) to “Always”
(numerical value of 5). Religion (i.e., Catholicism vis-à-vis other beliefs) seems to have little
influence on the negative response of some respondents, as proven by the insignificant
difference between the Catholics and non-Catholics who answered “Never” (numerical
SA 21 A | Spot Survey Exercise | Cabrera, Cahulogan, Ong, Rojas, Tolosa, Wu

value of 1) or “Seldom” (numerical value of 2) in Substantive Question A (approximately


19% and exactly 12.5%, respectively).

Table 5. Tally for Substantive Question A Based on Descriptive Question 2

High School 1 2 3 4 5
PS 2 4 7 12 8
PN 0 2 5 2 0
P 1 0 1 4 2

Respondents from private sectarian (PS) high schools and public (P) high schools
appear to be the most frequent practitioners of their religions; a majority from PS and P high
schools (approximately 60% and exactly 75%, respectively, of the total number of
respondents who attended each kind of high school) say that they exercise their religious
beliefs “Most of the time” (numerical value of 4) or “Always”. In contrast, only a minority
(22%) of respondents from private non-sectarian high schools practice their religion “Most of
the time”, while none of them chose the option of “Always”.

Table 6. Tally for Substantive Question B Based on Descriptive Question 1

Religion 1 2 3 4 5
C 8 4 7 4 19
NC 1 1 0 0 6

Exactly half of all the respondents claim that they prioritize God over their family,
friends, academics, and extra-curricular activities. A sizeable minority (approximately 20%)
of Catholic respondents says that God would be their last priority when weighed against the
other options presented. Also, a majority (approximately 55%) of Catholic respondents
challenge the convention that “God [must be put first] above all else.”

Table 7. Tally for Substantive Question B Based on Descriptive Question 2

High School 1 2 3 4 5
PS 7 4 4 3 15
PN 1 1 2 1 4
P 1 0 1 0 6

Similar to the findings for SQ A, a relative majority of respondents from PS and P


high schools (approximately 45% and exactly 75%, respectively) prioritize God over the
other options. The difference is that the analysis for respondents from PS and P high school
will also apply to respondents from private non-sectarian (PN) high schools. A relative
majority (approximately 45%) of them also consider God to be their first priority. Much like
the results for this question based on DQ 1, half of all the respondents disagree with the
traditional belief of putting God first.
SA 21 A | Spot Survey Exercise | Cabrera, Cahulogan, Ong, Rojas, Tolosa, Wu

Table 8. Tally for Substantive Question C Based on Descriptive Question 1

Religion 1 2 3 4
C 8 4 11 19
NC 2 0 1 5

Half of all the respondents and a majority for both Catholic and non-Catholic
respondents (approximately 45% and exactly 62.5%, respectively) say that they “have
complete faith in [their] religion.” A majority (approximately 55%) of Catholic respondents
appear to have poor faith in Catholicism, given by their agreement with “non-ideal”
statements (i.e., statements that are morally wrong by dogmatic standards) like “I am in my
religion because I have no choice.”

Table 9. Tally for Substantive Question C Based on Descriptive Question 2

High School 1 2 3 4
PS 8 3 6 16
PN 1 1 4 3
P 1 0 2 5

Much like the trend for the past two tables based on DQ 2, about half of all the
respondents provided the “ideal” response (i.e., the statement that displays unwavering faith
in one’s religion). A fairly large number of the respondents feel that they are forced into their
religions (20%) or that they can choose to be religious whenever it will be favorable to them
(24%).

Table 10. Results for Statistical Tests Based on Descriptive Question 1

Substantive Question A Substantive Question B Substantive Question C


C NC C NC C NC
Mean 3.45 3.88 3.52 4.13 2.98 3.13
Standard 1.07 1.27 1.58 1.54 1.13 1.27
Deviation
Mode 4 4 5 5 4 4

The most common responses (modal values) reveal that the religious faith of the
respondents is strong; they practice their faith “Most of the time”, they prioritize God above
all else, and they “have complete faith in [their] religion[s].” By this measurement, there is no
difference at all between the Catholic and non-Catholic respondents.

On the other hand, the mean and standard deviation values show a marginal
difference between the religiosity of Catholics and non-Catholics. The non-Catholic
respondents consistently obtained higher mean scores. However, this result may be
skewed because of the relatively small number of non-Catholic respondents (8 out of 50).
Also, while the responses indicating strength in religious faith are the most common, the
mean values, which are lower in comparison to the modal values, prove that other
respondents do not feel as strongly about their religion.
SA 21 A | Spot Survey Exercise | Cabrera, Cahulogan, Ong, Rojas, Tolosa, Wu

Table 11. Results for Statistical Tests Based on Descriptive Question 2

Substantive Question A Substantive Question B Substantive Question C


PS PN P PS PN P PS PN P
Mean 3.61 3 3.75 3.45 3.67 4.25 2.91 3 3.38
Standard 1.15 0.67 1.2 1.63 1.41 1.39 1.22 0.94 0.99
Deviation
Mode 4 3 4 5 5 5 4 3 4

Based on the modal values, the high schools that the respondents attended did not
account for any significant differences in the answers to the three substantive questions.
The relatively lower modal value for the PN group may be a result of the limited number of
respondents from PN high schools (9 out of 50).

Respondents from P high schools have consistently higher mean values than the
respondents from both PS and PN high schools. The mean values reveal that former
students of PS high schools usually practice their religion more frequently (3.61 > 3), but
they also prioritize God less (3.45 < 3.67) and they believe less in the intrinsic worth of
religion (2.91 < 3) compared to former students of PN high schools, as supported by the
standard deviation as well; however, the differences were marginal.

Conclusion

In most circumstances, it seems that a greater percentage of non-Catholic


respondents are devoutly religious in comparison to those that are Catholic (e.g., SQ B 5,
75% > ~45%; SQ C 5, 62.5% > ~45%). Also, a greater percentage of respondents from
public high schools are deeply religious, compared to those that are from private non-
sectarian high schools (e.g., SQ A 5, ~25% > 0%; SQ C 4, 62.5% > ~33%). The points of
comparison made here consider the extreme of the spectrum that marks great faith in
religion (i.e., the most “ideal” responses from a dogmatic perspective).

The first comparison of non-Catholic and Catholic respondents, however, is an


invalid one. Again, the mean and modal values for this descriptive profile do not differ
significantly, and at times, do not even differ at all. Secondly, the large disparity in sample
size (42 Catholic respondents versus 8 non-Catholic respondents) places an unfair and
unrepresentative weight on the response of just one non-Catholic respondent. The
conclusion, with respect to the comparison of Catholics and non-Catholics, is that people
from any religion or belief can be deeply religious. Also, it seems that years of Catholic
practices (or, impositions, from the perspective of some respondents) and education in
private sectarian high schools did not make the respondents more religious; in fact, they
may even be antagonistic to Catholicism.

The second comparison of respondents from public high schools and from private
non-sectarian high schools is a valid one. Firstly, there is no great disparity in the sample
size for both profiles (9 PN respondents and 8 P respondents). Also, the statistical analyses
yielded similar results, showing that students from public high schools are more religious
than those from private non-sectarian high schools.
SA 21 A | Spot Survey Exercise | Cabrera, Cahulogan, Ong, Rojas, Tolosa, Wu

Outside of the extreme considered earlier, there are respondents who gave the “non-
ideal” answers (i.e., responses that do not indicate absolute and unwavering faith). There
are no statistically relevant comparisons between Catholics and non-Catholics, or public
and private non-sectarian high school students; the differences on this end of the spectrum
seem to be marginal and insignificant. However, consider the responses of the Ateneans
surveyed, without regard for their religion or the kind of high school they attended.

Table 12. Overall Tally of Responses

1 2 3 4 5
SQ A 3 6 13 18 10
SQ B 9 5 7 4 25
SQ C 10 4 12 24 n/a

For all three substantive questions, about half of the respondents gave the “non-
ideal” answers (i.e., 1 – 3 for SQ A, 1 – 4 for SQ B, and 1 – 3 for SQ C). Despite the Ateneo
education that all the respondents have in common, a (presumably) disappointing and
sizeable number of the respondents show a lack of faith in their religion.

Generalization

Firstly, from the viewpoint of the educational system in the Philippines, public high
schools are more able to imbibe the value of spirituality in their students in comparison to
students from private non-sectarian high schools. A likely explanation for this is the
encompassing quality of religion, particularly in the Philippines, that influences even the
public education system. On the other hand, private non-sectarian high schools are overtly
secular in most situations. In both kinds of high schools, there are fewer people who feel
antagonistic toward religion when compared to people from private sectarian high schools.
Students from private sectarian high schools represent a diverse range of sentiments about
religiosity (i.e., ranging from hostility to devotion). This may be linked to the next
generalization.

The second generalization will be about the Ateneo community and the Catholic
Church in general. Based on the results of the survey, it may be surmised that the religious
faith of many Catholics and/or students of the Loyola Schools is not as strong as the
community or the Church would like to believe. It is plausible to believe that a significant
number of Catholics are compelled to stay in their religion because of sociocultural norms,
and not because of any profound affinity to Catholicism.

Recommendations

1. The researchers feel that future surveys should be administered to a larger sample
size. Given the population of the Loyola Schools, the sample size undertaken in this
exercise may not be sufficient in forming an accurate representation of the views of
Ateneans on religion. Conclusions and generalizations made in future surveys will be
more convincing if larger sample sizes are used.
SA 21 A | Spot Survey Exercise | Cabrera, Cahulogan, Ong, Rojas, Tolosa, Wu

2. Religious belief and spirituality are encompassing frameworks that influence multiple
aspects of one’s life. As such, survey questions in future investigations should be
more comprehensive in scope and, ideally, more considerate of the distinct nuances
of different religions.

3. The spiritual formation being offered in the Ateneo is seemingly unable to reach a
significant portion of the population of the Loyola Schools. Consequently, greater
effort must be put into helping students find the intrinsic worth of religion and
spirituality.
SA 21 A | Spot Survey Exercise | Cabrera, Cahulogan, Ong, Rojas, Tolosa, Wu

Appendix A – Survey Results

DQ 1 DQ 2 SQ A (1-5) SQ B (1-5) SQ C (1-4)


(C/NC) (PS/PN/P)
C PN 4 2 4
C PN 2 3 2
C PN 3 3 3
C PN 3 4 3
C PN 2 1 1
C PN 3 5 4
C PN 3 5 3
C P 3 3 3
C P 4 5 4
C P 1 1 1
C P 4 5 4
C P 4 5 4
C P 5 5 3
C P 5 5 4
C PS 3 3 3
C PS 5 5 4
C PS 3 4 2
C PS 5 5 4
C PS 4 5 4
C PS 4 5 1
C PS 3 5 1
C PS 4 4 4
C PS 3 1 3
C PS 2 1 1
C PS 2 3 3
C PS 2 2 1
C PS 4 5 4
C PS 4 1 4
C PS 3 2 3
C PS 4 4 3
C PS 5 5 4
C PS 4 3 2
C PS 1 2 1
C PS 4 5 4
C PS 5 1 4
C PS 3 5 1
C PS 2 1 2
C PS 5 3 4
C PS 4 5 3
C PS 4 5 4
SA 21 A | Spot Survey Exercise | Cabrera, Cahulogan, Ong, Rojas, Tolosa, Wu

C PS 3 5 4
C PS 4 1 4
NC PN 3 5 3
NC PN 4 5 4
NC P 4 5 4
NC PS 5 5 4
NC PS 5 5 4
NC PS 5 1 4
NC PS 4 2 1
NC PS 1 5 1