Frank Frankl’s Life Purpose Test



Measuring Student Development






The aim of the study is to identify an assessment instrument that measures student development based on theories. The assessment will define the theory it is designed to measure. It does this by giving a brief description of the component scales and subscales. Also, the study will illustrate the results of two validity studies. Furthermore, giving a brief description of the context in which it is applicable. Lastly, I will give an opinion of the instrument regarding its applications in the professional practice.

The study explores Frank Frankl’s Purpose in Life Test (PIL) used in the assessment of the Arthur W. Chickering’s Theory. The theory significantly focuses on the overall identity development of the students. According to Arthur, there are seven vectors for the student psychological development. They consist of development of competence, ability to manage emotions, movement from autonomy to interdependence, development of mature social relationships, development of identity, development of purpose, and the development of integrity. The student competence is the intellectual and manual skills. The movement from autonomy means that the students must risk their relationships in pursuit of their individual interests. Moreover, identity development determines the experience and levels of intensity student resonate in satisfying self-destructive fashion. Lastly, the student must develop mature relationships that require the ability to accept the unique differences among people (White & Hood, 2013).

The Frank Frankl’s Purpose in Life Test (PIL) measures the sixth vector of the Arthur W. Chickering’s Theory. According to Arthur, the students must identify the reason they are studying their course. The purpose moves beyond getting a job and earning a living. The students must discover what drives them every day and entirely find it fulfilling in their lives. The Frank assessment agrees with Arthur theory. It stipulates that the purpose of an individual is to find the meaning of life. The assessment works on three principles. First, every person life has a meaning even the most miserable ones. Secondly, the motivation for living is to find its meaning. Lastly, all individuals have the freedom to find the meaning of their actions, experiences, and decisions under varying challenging circumstances (White & Hood, 2013).

Frank also affirms that human being discovers the meaning in three ways. First, it is through the creation of a work deed. Secondly, meaning can emanate from experience and life encounters. Lastly, individuals can discover their true meaning through the development of a positive attitude towards their lives in order to avoid sufferings. A clear life purpose comes out strongly through religious beliefs, life values, and through dedication to a cause. Maturity demands an understanding of one’s life purpose that makes life meaningful (Stage & Hubbard, 2013).

The study was conducted on a random sample of 1000 students. The students enrolled for full-time at Midwestern University. Students were divided into residence halls, emerging apartment communities, general off campus and residential colleges. A web-based survey was conducted where the students had to respond to three emails. The willing participant won $150 gift voucher in a local mall. The study used three scales. First, there was the purpose of life test. The test had twenty statements where the student’s response was rated on a 7-point scale (Stage & Hubbard, 2013). The more positive response was on the right side of the scale. The statements created scores ranging between 20 and 140 points. The student with higher PIL was interpreted to have a greater sense of purpose of his life. Secondly, there was use of demographic variables. These variables consisted of age, gender, sexual orientation, residential setting, race and socioeconomic status. Lastly, the environment and involvement factors were also taken into consideration. The assessment measures the student involvement in activities the outside academic work. For example, reading newspaper and leadership positions (Stage & Hubbard, 2013).
The results showed that men had a lower sense of the life purpose than women slightly. There was no relationship between the other variables and the PIL. However, the study results were subjected further to regression analysis in order to establish the effect of environmental and demographic factors on the PIL scores. Some factors exhibited a significant relationship with the dependent variable (White & Hood, 2013).

I would use the Frank’s PIL test in a workplace environment in order to measure the height of the occupational meaningfulness among employees. The theory asserts that there exists a relationship between behavioral and instrumental issues among students. It is evident that students with higher PIL have high levels of self-confidence. They have positive life expectations when compared to those with lower PIL. Furthermore, it would be useful in a clinical environment when administering therapy to patients. The application agrees with Frank paradoxical intention purpose helpful in the breakdown of neurotic vicious cycles brought by hyper-intention (Stage & Hubbard, 2013).
The study explores the student purpose in life. It is an effective method of identifying the motives of students enrolling in college. It is an effective tool since it helps the college management in resource allocation to the most productive activities. The assessment helps the college management in the psychosocial development of the students (Iarussi, 2013). The professionals can thus develop intervention strategies that improve the purpose in life of their students.

In conclusion, Frank Purpose in Life Test (PIL) test measures only the sixth vector of the Chickering’s Theory. The purpose in life vector is extremely critical to the theory, and has wide applications in life. It is the motive of other vectors of the theory.


Iarussi, M. M. (2013). Examining How Motivational Interviewing May Foster College Student Development. Journal of College Counseling, 16(2), 158-175.

Stage, F. K., & Hubbard, S. M. (2013). Linking Theory to Practice: Case Studies for Working with College Students. New York: Routledge.

White, D. B., & Hood, A. B. (2013). An Assessment of the Validity of Chickering’s Theory of Student Development. Journal of College Student Development, 30(4), 354-61.

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