Contemporary research about purpose suggests that adolescents benefit in multiple ways when they develop purpose, and at the same time, that many adolescents are not purposeful. Adolescents in Catholic high schools may receive a unique set of contextual supports that help them develop a sense of purpose and understand what that purpose is. This study was designed to understand the content and organization of purpose for young adolescents during their first year in a Catholic high school. The sample included 153 ninth grade students from a Catholic high school in the United States (M age at T1 = 14.02 years; 51% male; 39.2% White). Participants responded to open-ended prompts on a survey at the beginning and end of the academic year. Open-ended responses were qualitatively coded, and descriptive and chi-square analyses were used to look for unique distributions of purpose organization. Most adolescents named one or two content categories of purpose, and most adolescents demonstrated stability or became more organized about the content of their purposes. Results are discussed in terms of their developmental significance and their utility for researchers and practitioners, particularly in the Catholic school setting.
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Quinn, B. P. (2018). Purposeful Explorers: Adolescents Finding Their Purposes in a Catholic High School. Journal of Catholic Education. https://doi.org/10.15365/joce.2102032018