Abstracts from Journal of Religious Education, Volume 60(2) 2012
Preparing Pre-Service Teachers for Religious Education: A Peer Review Approach
by Michael Buchanan
In higher education institutions across many countries peer review strategies have influenced approaches to learning and teaching in a variety of academic disciplines. There is a growing body of research in many disciplines other than religious education exploring the benefits of peer review for advancing achievement in learning. A recent study located within a constructivist paradigm focussed on the experiences of a group of pre-service teachers of peer review in the context of religious education. Their experiences were conveyed through a response to a survey questionnaire, focus group interviews, participant observation and journaling. This paper contributes to the existing body of knowledge regarding peer review in higher education by providing another perspective based on the experiences of pre-service teachers of religious education. It identifies some considerations that teacher educators could take into account when developing and designing a peer review process.
Formation of Pre-Service Teachers for Religious Education Through Experiential Learning: The Retreat Leaders Training Program
by Chris Hackett and Shane Lavery
This article reports on the formation of pre-service teachers for religious education through an experiential learning program called the Retreat Leaders Training Program (RLTP). First, the article examines the need for formation for pre-service RE teachers, especially as the formation relates to the development of three forms of teacher knowledge: content knowledge, pedagogical content knowledge and experiential content knowledge. Second, the article reviews the literature on the role of experiential learning in professional formation and the contribution live-in retreats may make in this formation. Third, the article presents the Retreat Leaders Training Program as an example of the formative influence of a retreat based on experiential learning. Fourth, feedback from pre-service teachers undertaking the 2011 program is reported. Lastly, the article discusses the outcomes of the RLTP and the significance of the program as a key ingredient in the formation of teacher knowledge for religious education.
Professional Standards for Graduate Teachers of Religious Education in Catholic Schools: Implications for Teacher Preservice Education
by Kath Engebretson & Jan Grajczonek
This paper reports on an initial part of a wider research study investigating professional teaching standards for teachers of Religious Education in Catholic schools in Victoria. Since the 1990s Australian education departments as well as a number of discipline specific associations such as Literacy, English, Music, ESL, and TESOL have developed and implemented professional teaching standards. Professional teaching standards have also been taken up by universities as they have integrated the various state and territory as well as subject specific professional standards into their preservice education courses. This paper presents initial findings of interviews conducted with graduate teachers of Religious Education across primary and secondary Catholic schools in two Victorian dioceses. These findings not only suggest tentative professional teaching standards for graduate Religious Education teachers but also raise a number of implications for preservice teacher education in the discipline of Religious Education.
“Isn’t there a Town Named After Him?” Content Knowledge and Teacher Training in Religious Education
by Richard Rymarz
This paper examines the need for content knowledge as a foundation for teacher training in religious education. It argues that in educational models of religious education, where the emphasis is on a strongly cognitive approach, either in secular or denominational contexts, significant demands are made on teachers. Without adequate content knowledge teachers find it difficult to teach in an engaging and informed way. Two illustrative Canadian examples are provided, which highlight the cognitive demands of religion courses in both Catholic and secular schools. In light of this some recommendations are made as how best to match the requirements of the formal curriculum with the content knowledge of teachers.
Does it Make any Difference? The Case of the Quantitative Changes in Finnish RE Student Teachers’ Views of Competence During their Pedagogical Program
by Martin Ubani
This article describes the general quantitative changes in the perceptions of competence among RE student teachers (N = 86) during their one-year pedagogical program at the University of Helsinki, Finland. The data were gathered with two-part questionnaires at the beginning and end of the pedagogical program and included quantified qualitative and quantitative analysis. The study found the following trends among the students. First when summarised the student teachers' views leaned toward an educational professionalist emphasis. Second, a pattern of decrease in the intra-personal and psychological domains could be identified. Third, with the exception of learning-in-action, the students seemed to place less emphasis on life-long learning at the end of the pedagogical year than at the beginning. Fourth the RE student teachers viewed themselves as being more competent at the end of their pedagogical education than at the beginning.
The Real Vs The Virtual University Religious Education Teacher: An Interpretation of Contrasts in Participant Engagement in Learning Between Face-To-Face and Fully Online Teaching
by Graham Rossiter
This article is about learning and teaching in postgraduate courses and professional development programs. Much has been written about how children and adolescents might learn in religion classes, and about how religious education might contribute to their spiritual and moral development. But there is not so much about religion teachers’ own religious education and professional development, particularly from the perspective of those whose role is to educate them religiously (English, 2002). The article reflects on 35 years’ experience in the field. It is like an educational ‘reverse engineering’ – putting what was judged to be best practice into theory. It will propose an 8 level framework of participant engagement in study of RE that has been found to be useful for interpreting differences in contexts, participants, and course structure. It results from insights and intuitions drawn from experience, and as yet is not related to the literature of adult learning. But it might become a starting point for research on issues related to the professional development of religion teachers. The focus is on educating professionals in religious education and not on their theological education; nevertheless, the pedagogical principles that are developed may well prove to be relevant to any tertiary postgraduate or professional development program. The estimates of teaching, engagement and learning proposed here may be contested; nevertheless, they raise issues that warrant further consideration in relation to policy and priorities in the development of postgraduate religious education programs.