Date of Graduation

Spring 2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


School of Education


Leadership Studies


Catholic Educational Leadership EdD

First Advisor

Patricia Mitchell

Second Advisor

Michael Duffy

Third Advisor

Jane Bleasdale


The purpose of Catholic education has always been to educate students on the mission of the Catholic Church which is evangelization. This study examined the prospect of preserving Catholic identity in Catholic secondary schools that enroll non-Catholic and international students. Research revealed there was limited material available on non-Catholic students, but there was no study conducted on international students. It is precisely because there is no research on the experiences of international students in Catholic secondary schools that this study directs its attention. Specifically, the focus of research is directed on Catholic identity: what Catholic identity is; how one instills Catholic identity in a secondary school and the impact on Catholic identity by non-Catholic and international students.

The dissertation utilized a quantitative methodology of surveying students, faculty, and administrators. The Catholic Identity Defining Characteristics Survey and the Catholic Identity Program Effectiveness Survey (Ozar & Weitzel-O’Neill, 2012) were combined and presented to the participants. Both surveys are contained in the National Standards and Benchmarks for Effective Catholic Schools (2012) which served as the theoretical framework for this study.

This dissertation also employed the conceptual framework of relationships, “a coherent and relevant framework for thinking about Catholic identity and charism in contemporary schools using relationships as the organizing principle” (Cook & Simonds, 2011, p. 319).

Eight Catholic secondary schools that were randomly selected from across the U.S. agreed to participate in this research. A total of 126 students responded to the student survey. Approximately half of the respondents were international students (n = 65, 51.6%). A total of 56 individuals responded to the administrator/faculty survey (n = 56). The results suggest that non-Catholic and international students do not impact the Catholic identity in secondary schools. The results also highlighted two notable responses that point to administrators and faculty negatively impacting Catholic identity: (1) students were most concerned that although administrators and faculty members wanted to be present for their students, for unknown reasons, were not available; and (2) administrators and faculty were concerned that there was the lack of “communion and community” at their schools.