Date of Award

2010

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

College

College of Education and International Services

First Advisor

Larry D. Burton

Second Advisor

Jimmy Kijai

Third Advisor

Douglas Jones

Abstract

Purpose

This study examined Christian graduate students’ perceptions of integration of faith and learning (IFL) in an instructional context where intentional integrative strategies were used to enable IFL for students.

Method

This study used a case study design that relied primarily on qualitative sources. The case investigated included 28 graduate education students in a summer “institute” at a Christian university. The instructors and most students were of the same denomination that the university is affiliated with. Most students were experienced teachers and expressed strong personal faith. The instructors support institutional goals for faith- learning integration. Descriptive statistics from a survey were collected to help triangulate the qualitative data, which included student interviews and reflective writing, responses to open-ended survey questions from instructors, and observation notes. Data from students were analyzed by the constant comparative method to understand the meanings ascribed to integration of faith and learning. Analysis considers students’ perceptions alongside instructors’ responses and the researcher’s observations. Discussion also related methods and findings to similar prior studies.

Results

Students’ definitions and descriptions of IFL were consistent with those obtained in earlier, similar studies and as a group emphasized similar aspects of the process. The findings are summarized in six areas that are relevant to educators and administrators in Christian education, particularly at the level of higher education: 1. Even without previous instruction in IFL, education students who are Christian demonstrate an a priori understanding of IFL. 2. Students grow in awareness and understanding of IFL with continued exposure. 3. Education students tend to understand IFL mostly as a teacher behavior. 4. Intentionally planned opportunities for students to integrate faith and learning provide meaningful experiences. 5. Student perceptions of IFL are fragmented and multi-faceted. 6. Faith-learning integration may be more meaningful when opportunities appeal to a student at his/her particular level of faith and cognitive maturity.

Conclusions

Faith integration strategies can be successful. Most of these students, experienced teachers, began describing ways to plan and use integrative strategies for their own students. Therefore, this avenue of inquiry should be continued for the purpose of building theory regarding use of integrative strategies.

Subject Area

Students--Attitudes; Learning and scholarship--Religious aspects; Faith development; Teaching--Methodology; Christian education

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

DOI

https://dx.doi.org/10.32597/dissertations/1716

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