Faculty Publications


Faith-Learning Integration, Critical Thinking Skills, and Student Development in Christian Education

Document Type


Publication Date

August 2012


Although the integration of faith and learning presupposes a learner, little theoretical work has addressed the role of students in faith-learning integration. Moreover, many students perceive faith-learning integration to be the work of teachers and institutions, suggesting that for learners, integration is a passive experience. This theoretical paper proposes an active, critical-thinking skills model for the conduct of faith-learning integration that may guide teachers in developing courses that support students in developing the skills needed for independent faith-learning integration. The integration of faith and learning remains an oft-stated goal of Christian education, to the degree that it sometimes approaches a slogan (Bouma-Prediger, 1990; Badley, 1994; Matthews & Gabriel, 2001). Nevertheless, the idea of integrating the principles of Christian faith with the process of learning is inherent in the very concept of Christian education. Christian educators, in order to be worthy of their name, must judge— and even redeem and reconstruct—their pedagogy by the criteria of Christian principles and practice (Johnson, 1997; Wolterstorff, 1984; Glanzer, 2008). Implicitly and explicitly, however, faith-learning integration is, for the most part, the practice of scholars—far less attention has been paid to the development of student capabilities than to the intellectual tasks facing experts (Holmes, 1994). Indeed, Lawrence et al. (2005), in proposing a pedagogical approach to the integration of faith and learning, noted that students generally perceive the integration of faith and learning as the task of teachers: “the integration of faith and teaching” (p. 18). As Lawrence and colleagues noted, while the integration of faith and teaching is a necessary component of Christian education (see also Badley, 1994), without describing and developing the role of students as individuals and as members of a community, there can be no intentional integration of faith and learning on our students’ part, nor will our pedagogy and assessment be fully effective.

Journal Title

Journal of Research on Christian Education