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Kevin Dougherty, Ph.D. - Baylor University . Waco, TX, US

Kevin Dougherty, Ph.D. Kevin Dougherty, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Sociology | Baylor University


Dr. Dougherty focuses on the impact of religion on other realms of social life such as community involvement, politics, and work



Dr. Dougherty is an award-winning teacher and active researcher. He teaches large sections of Introduction to Sociology almost every semester. At the graduate level, he teaches the Seminar in Teaching and The Sociology of Religious Organizations. His research explores religious affiliation, religious participation, racial diversity in congregations, congregational growth and decline, and the impact of religion on other realms of social life such as community involvement, politics, and work. He also regularly writes and speaks about innovative teaching. His published research appears in leading academic journals and has been featured in news media such as the Chronicle of Higher Education, CNN, National Public Radio, and USA Today

Industry Expertise (1)


Areas of Expertise (7)

Religious Education Religion Sociology of Religion Religion Politics & Culture Facebook in Education Congregational Diversity Tests vs. Learning Celebrations

Accomplishments (2)

Outstanding Professor Award (professional)

Baylor University

Outstanding Professor Award (professional)

Baylor University

Education (3)

Purdue University: Ph.D., Sociology 2003

Purdue University: M.S., Sociology 1999

George Fox University: B.A., Communication Arts 1993

Media Appearances (7)

Racial Attitudes of Blacks in Multiracial Congregations Resemble Those of Whites, Study Finds

Baylor Media Communications  


“Whose interests are multiracial congregations serving?” asked researcher Kevin Dougherty, Ph.D., associate professor of sociology in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences. “We want to believe that they promote a shared, integrated identity for all. But the truth may be that many are advancing a form of Anglo-conformity instead.”...

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Tests vs. Fests: Students in “Learning Celebrations” Rather than Exams Scored Higher and Enjoyed Themselves, Baylor Sociologist Says

Baylor Media Communications  online


A Baylor sociologist who reshaped “test day” in his class — transforming it with balloons, streamers, treats and music — found that students in “learning celebrations” scored higher than students who took standard-style exams in previous semesters.

“Assessment is too important for students to dread,” said Kevin Dougherty, Ph.D., associate professor of sociology in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences, in the article “Reframing Test Day,” published in Teaching/Learning Matters. “My goal is to create an ambience for assessment that enhances learning and joy.”

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Cyberspace Scholarship Nets Higher Grades and Better Critical Thinking for Classmates in a Facebook Learning Group, Baylor Study Shows

Baylor Media Communications  


The study has implications for the challenge of teaching large classes, a matter of growing concern for higher education. Classes numbering hundreds of students — particularly in introductory courses — have become common at many universities, said researchers Kevin Dougherty, Ph.D., associate professor of sociology in Baylor’s College of Arts and Sciences, and Brita Andercheck, a doctoral candidate in sociology at Baylor...

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Members of Congregations' Smaller Racial Groups Feel Less of a Sense of Belonging and Are Less Involved, Baylor Study Finds

Baylor Media Communications  


The findings "weren't unexpected, but they were sobering," said study co-author Kevin D. Dougherty, Ph.D., an associate professor of sociology in Baylor's College of Arts & Sciences. "If you visit a multiracial church and peek inside a Sunday school class, you're more likely to see a homogeneous group than in the main service."...

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Huge Congregations View Racial Inequality Differently than Others Do, Study Shows

Baylor Media Communications  


"Large congregations are more likely than smaller congregations to attract members of multiple races," said Dougherty, an associate professor of sociology in Baylor's College of Arts & Sciences. "Our research suggests that bigger congregations do little to challenge prevailing views on racial inequality. The larger the congregation, the less likely a congregant is to accept discrimination or other structural explanations for the economic gap between blacks and whites. It's hard to solve a social problem when people disagree about its source."...

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Entrepreneurs Pray More, See God as Personal, Baylor Researchers Find

Baylor Media Communications  


Entrepreneurs are categorized in the study as those who have started a new business or who are trying to do so, said Kevin Dougherty, Ph.D., an associate professor of sociology in Baylor's College of Arts & Sciences.

When it comes to entrepreneurs' concept of God, "they tend to think of God as a more personal, interactive being, and that is tightly related to why they pray more frequently," Dougherty said...

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Small Groups Are Crucial -- But Not a Cure-all for Megachurches, Baylor University Researchers Say

Baylor Media Communications  


"Simply having a small group program in a church is no guarantee of success," said Dr. Kevin Dougherty, an assistant professor in Baylor's department of sociology and co-author of the article "A Place to Belong: Small Group Involvement in Religious Congregations" in the March issue of the journal Sociology of Religion...

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Articles (9)

Using Facebook to Engage Learners in a Large Introductory Course Teaching Sociology


Classes of hundreds pose special challenges for teaching and learning. Notable among these challenges is the tendency for students to feel like anonymous spectators rather than active, collaborative participants. To combat this tendency, we used the popular social networking site Facebook to cultivate a sense of community among 200-plus students in an Introduction to Sociology course. The Facebook Group proved a powerful tool for community-building and learning. We describe our Facebook Group, present evidence of its benefits in the course, and discuss the pedagogical potential of social media.

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Race, Belonging, and Participation in Religious Congregations Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion


Significant effort has gone into understanding and promoting racial diversity in congregations. Still, uniting worshippers of different races remains a challenging endeavor. Even congregations that successfully attract worshippers of different races often have difficulty sustaining their multiracial composition. This study contributes to the discussion of race and religion by examining racial group differences in belonging and participation in congregations. Drawing on organizational ecology theory, we develop four hypotheses to test whether and how racial group size corresponds to congregational commitment. Results of multilevel modeling using 2001 U.S. Congregational Life Survey data reveal that those who are a part of a congregation's largest racial group possess a stronger sense of belonging and participate at a deeper level than congregants of other races. Moreover, differences in belonging and participation by racial group persist regardless of group size.

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A Religious Profile of American Entrepreneurs Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion


The entrepreneur is a celebrated figure in American society. These innovative risk-takers hold an influential place in the economy and in popular culture. Substantial research has gone into identifying characteristics associated with these individuals, but research on entrepreneurs and religion is surprisingly sparse and inconsistent. Using national survey data, we examine religious affiliation, belief, and behavior for Americans who have started or are trying to start a business. American entrepreneurs appear no different than nonentrepreneurs in religious affiliation, belief in God, or religious service attendance. They do tend to see God as more personal, pray more frequently, and are more likely to attend a place of worship that encourages business activity. A discussion of implications concludes the research note.

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A Place to Belong: Small Group Involvement in Religious Congregations Sociology of Religion


Large congregations are commonly criticized as eliciting less involvement from adherents than smaller congregations. Small groups have been heralded as a remedy to drawbacks of increasing congregation size. This study tests the relevance of small groups to individuals’ commitment and participation, particularly in large congregations. Analysis features the 2001 U.S. Congregational Life Survey and a survey of congregants at one Central Texas Megachurch. Persons involved in small groups devoted to prayer, discussion, or Bible study report a greater sense of belonging, more frequent attendance, and higher rates of giving. The effect of small group involvement does not differ by congregation size, however. From worshippers in one Texas megachurch, we find that the extent of small group involvement positively relates to commitment and participation. Small groups may not completely resolve problems associated with increasing size, but we believe they do represent a potent source of vitality in congregations big and small.

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Congregational Responses to Growing Urban Diversity in a White Ethnic Denomination Social Problems


How do congregations from a white ethnic denomination respond to growing urban diversity? Using an ecological perspective, we examine 14 Christian Reformed congregations in Southeast Grand Rapids, Michigan over a 30-year time period (1970 to 2000). We track neighborhood composition, residential patterns of congregation members, and congregation membership totals. As white residents declined in urban neighborhoods, congregations from this historically Dutch denomination had difficulty sustaining themselves as neighborhood churches. Tracing the history of these congregations revealed churches reaching beyond their neighborhoods for members as the surroundings changed. Such activities resulted in niche overlap, heightened competition, and jeopardized organizational sustainability. Older, more traditional churches in the most dramatically changing neighborhoods saw membership plummet. Newer, more suburban congregations showed greater stability. Fastest growing were mission churches originally formed to serve non-Dutch constituencies but now attracting diverse members from a wide area. Implementing organizational ecology theory, our conclusions address issues of adaptation, institutional interrelationships, and the contingent nature of competitive advantage.

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Racially Diverse Congregations: Organizational Identity and the Accommodation of Differences Journal For the Scientific Study of Religion


Racial integration in religious congregations is a topic of keen interest to researchers and religious leaders. Although not common, there are congregations that successfully reach across cultural lines to attract adherents. Prior studies tend to dichotomize congregations into categories of multiracial and nonmultiracial and, thereby, miss a wider range of racial variation...

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When the Final Bell Tolls: Patterns of Church Closings in Two Protestant Denominations Review of Religious Research


While growth in congregations and denominations generates much research, few studies speak to the other side of religious organization performance: decline and death. This study steps into this gap to consider rates and reasons for closings among America's most pervasive form of voluntary association. Drawing on prior studies of organizational mortality outside religion, we examine congregational closure as a function of organizational age. Longitudinal data from more than 15,000 congregations in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) and Church of the Nazarene enable tests of age-liabilities. Congregations from these denominations experience lower rates of mortality than other types of formal organizations, but they are not immune from challenges to survival at founding and after 40-50 years in existence. Minimum resources necessary for congregational survival and implications for denominational growth and decline are discussed in conclusion.

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Recovering the Lost: Remeasuring U.S. Religious Affiliation Journal For the Scientific Study of Religion


Over the past several decades, survey research has found a growing percentage of Americans claiming no religious affiliation. In this article, we introduce a modified religious traditions (RELTRAD) typology to measure religious affiliation. The approach benefits from a more detailed data collection and coding scheme of religious tradition based upon religious family, denomination, and congregation...

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How Monochromatic is Church Membership? Racial-Ethnic Diversity in Religious Community Sociology of Religion


It is a common conception that the church is among the most segregated of American institutions, yet there is little research to identify the extent of racial-ethnic homogeneity or to explain what factors propel diversity within religious communities. Research that does exist draws primarily on individual level data and treats diversity as a categorical variable. This paper introduces a continuous measure of racial-ethnic diversity...

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