Discerning Catholic Worldviews in Catholic Schools

Who: Dr. Jorge Pena of  the Greeley Center Loyola-Chicago & Dr. Tim Uhl of Catholic School Matters are developing a survey to measure Catholic Culture by discerning Catholic worldviews, mindsets, and affinities.  School culture is often defined as “the way we do things around here” but we are trying to uncover the allegiances and dispositions which help form a community’s culture.  If you can tap into the root beliefs, you can uncover the norms.  And if you can uncover the norms, you can discover the culture.

We are looking for Catholic schools to measure the effectiveness of the survey.  For these schools, the survey and reports will be free.  We are developing this instrument in order to help individuals discover their root dispositions and for groups to discover their operating milieu.

What: This is an online anonymous measurement of 27 questions across five dimensions.  Each of the four dimensions is a continuum and each participant will receive a score compared to national norms (which we are building from this survey).  The five dimensions measure aspects of Catholic culture:

  1. Questions will measure a person’s affinity toward working alongside other schools or toward approaching his/her own school solely.
  2. Questions will measure a person’s affinity toward solving problems at the lowest possible level or supporting a more centralized structure.
  3. Tradition vs. Innovation. Questions will focus on affinity toward returning to the past practices or trying new approaches.
  4. Mission or Resources. Questions will measure an individual’s affinity toward the school’s mission or a business mindset.
  5. Holiness of All vs. Hierarchy. Questions will measure perspectives on ecumenism and orthodoxy.

We are not operating under the assumption that there are right answers to the questions.  It’s often a “both and” situation.  However, we believe the forced choices will reveal where an individual resides on a continuum.

The idea is that the survey will measure on four levels—the individual, the group (such as a Board or faculty), the schools, and then at the Diocesan/system level.  The more surveys we receive, the more likely we are to establish national norms. We believe those scores will illustrate potential conflicts as well as need for more formation.  This tool can then serve to help understand the culture of a group.

When: The plan is to administer the 5- to 10-minute survey in October/November in order to compile results in December. .

Why: We believe that not enough work has been done to form our lay leadership in the Church.  Also, we don’t have a way to measure what many of us suspect.  For example, we assume that most boards have a stronger tendency toward resources (as opposed to mission) than the faculty.  But what if they don’t?  And might not this survey be a way to help each group understand the position of the other group?

How: We plan to use these results for an academic journal article.  Then we’ll partner with a company which has the capacity to administer the survey and manage the results like the ACRE test.

Resources for your information and to share with your principals and other stakeholders:

Timeline for this fall’s cohort:

  • October 21: survey links sent to either school leaders or system leaders. Individual schools who have expressed interest in participating will receive an individual link.  Systems who have committed to the survey will receive one link with a drop-down menu for each individual school
  • Survey results will be sent to us automatically so all you’ll need to do is remind participants to participate.
  • November 28: surveys will close
  • December: collection and sorting of data
  • January: Data analysis
  • February: Articulation of survey results will begin


Questions?  Interested in participating? Contact Dr. Uhl at superintendent@montanacc.org & Dr. Peña at jpena3@luc.edu