Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Education


Educational Leadership PhD

First Advisor

James A. Tucker

Second Advisor

Shirley A. Freed

Third Advisor

Loretta Johns


Problem. While models of teaching and teaching methods have manifested themselves in the wake of most major world philosophies and thus are accessible to present-day educators, a defined model of teaching based on the Christian worldview is harder to find. This is strange, given the fact that the person who, by definition, stands as close to the Christian worldview as one can possibly get, Jesus Christ has the reputation of being one of the greatest teachers ever. Institutions that offer an education aligned with the Christian worldview should be the ones showing greatest interest in a model of teaching derived from the works of Jesus. However, every educator with a desire to facilitate effective learning would, regardless of ideological background, benefit from refreshing their perspectives by a teacher who reportedly was a master in the art of teaching. This study has aspired to pinpoint some of the central teaching methods Jesus applied and synthesize them into a Jesus Model of Teaching.

Method. The main source of methodical inspiration and structure for this research is the classical grounded theory, as developed by Glaser and Strauss in the 1960s. Grounded theory, which mainly is a theory-generating method, offers the inductive tools essential in discovering properties and underlying patterns in the material under study. Properties and patterns yield indicators of centrality, which again give the basis for the theory. In this study grounded theory is a Jesus Model of teaching. The study has six phases, alternating between being sequential and simultaneous: 1. Selection of material: Seventy accounts from the four Gospels describing Jesus in a teaching situation were selected based on their characteristics as teaching stories. 2. Open coding: The analysis of content and coding of Gospel Accounts. A group of five teaching professionals performed this as a cooperative project. They coded (established categories) by analyzing and comparing teaching stories until all 70 were categorized. The group of five attached essential attributes to each category, and gave each category a working name. 3. Recategorization: The 70 Gospel accounts were given to a second panel of four professionals for recategorization. This next group of professionals was given the established categories and their attributes, but they were not given any information about which teaching stories the first group had included in each category. This group recategorized the 70 teaching stories into the categories established by the first group. They worked independent of each other, to check to what degree the categories/teaching methods were recognizable by their attributes. 4. Comparison of results: Comparison between the results from the first and second groups of professionals was done shortly after the data were received from all the members of the groups. From the comparison of the work of the two groups, three teaching methods of Jesus were much more prominent than the others. These became the subject of more comprehensive analysis. At the end of phase four, a discussion of the main teaching methods of Jesus in light of current learning theory, research, and practice was conducted. 5. Axial coding: The relationships between the categories were investigated, and emergent, repeating patterns within and among the categories were identified. Underlying central themes and their synthesis because of the axial coding process emerged. 6. Grounded theory: The central themes identified as underlying principles or concepts of the categories were established as the integrative agents of the Jesus Model, generated from this study. The model was constantly compared for validation to the data from which it had emerged.

Results. The first line of results was the combined work of open coding and recategorization: Three main and six minor teaching methods were established. The category given the working name Metamorphosis in the open coding was the teaching method in which Jesus frequently applied stories, parables, metaphors, and other figurative speech. The category Straight Talk was the teaching method in which Jesus gave talks, sermons, and speeches. The category Demonstration of Authority was the teaching method where Jesus gave practical advice, and performed healings and miracles. The three main categories Metamorphosis, Straight Talk, and Demonstration of Authority underwent further analysis with regard to why, how, and when Jesus used these methods, and how current learning theory and practice can explain or corroborate their effectiveness. During the in-depth analysis of the three main teaching methods, the following patterns emerged from the material as underlying concepts and principles: flexibility, accommodation to needs, and authentic authority. In this study authentic authority is defined as a relationship between teacher and students marked by a high level of social power on the part of the teacher. The two main components of authentic authority are expert power and referent power. The three concepts— flexibility, accommodation of needs, and authentic authority—form the Jesus Model of Teaching, which is the main result of this study. While authentic authority is the backbone in Jesus‘ teaching, flexibility and accommodation to needs are the conditions under which teaching is delivered. The three main teaching methods and the remaining six minor methods are merely practical expressions of the Model.

Conclusions. The Jesus Model of Teaching presented in this thesis was developed as a grounded theory based on empirical data. Authentic Authority and flexibility practiced in need-based instruction is well corroborated in scholarly literature and can be implemented in general education at all levels. Teacher quality would possibly be improved if this model were taken as the basis for teacher training programs. However, further research is recommended that could measure the association between learning success and application of the operationalized propositions. A more definite knowledge support could subsequently be generated by experimental research.

Subject Area

Grounded theory, Teaching--Methodology, Teaching--Religious aspects--Christianity