Student Involvement and Leadership


First-year college students attended a two-day retreat intended to foster their vocations, understood as life meaning and purpose (e.g., Damon, Menon, & Bronk, 2003). During the retreat, character strengths of hope, curiosity, zest, persistence, and compassion were described as tools they could use to support their vocational journeys.

Participants were surveyed at the retreat’s opening and at its conclusion. Results indicated that participants rated themselves higher at posttest than they did at pretest on all character strengths except persistence, where there was no change. There was a Gender x Time interaction on the Hope-Pathways scale, F(1, 114) = 4.93, p < .05, η2 = .041. Women rated themselves higher on the pathways subscale at posttest (M = 6.49, SE = .092) than they did at pretest (M = 6.12, SE = .095), whereas men showed no change (pretest M = 6.10, SE = .164; posttest M = 6.16, SE = .160). Results from qualitative analyses on the open-ended questions from the posttest revealed that participants integrated the five character strengths into their working definitions of vocation to a remarkable extent.