Details of Thesis

Title An Examination of Student Meaning-Making in the Post-Compulsory Subject of Study of Religion
Author Craig, Mark Gerard
Institution Australian Catholic University
Date 2006
Abstract Current research and anecdotal evidence has suggested that students enrolled in the QSA (Queensland Studies Authority) subject for Year 11 and Year 12, Study of Religion, as outlined in the Senior Syllabus for Study of Religion, are experiencing difficulties in meaning-making. This may be due to particular methodologies being employed to teach the subject to secondary students (Barnes, 2001; Flood, 1999; Kay, 1997). The purpose of this research was to explore the connection between student difficulty in meaning making in Study of Religion and the employment of phenomenological methodologies as a pedagogical tool for teaching Study of Religion. It was anticipated that this study would illuminate the nature of the relationship between these two variables and provide a framework for the consideration of possible changes to current methodologies being employed in the Study of Religion classroom. The researcher adopted a case-study approach and further utilized the research methods of a survey questionnaire and a focus group to collect data. A cross-sectional survey at a Catholic co-educational College was completed. Forty-five students from a Study of Religion cohort totalling ninety were surveyed at this College. This was followed up by a focus group discussion involving five of the original forty-five students surveyed. The participants furnished a range of valuable insights in regard to the connection between student difficulty in meaning-making and the employment of largely phenomenological methodologies in teaching Study of Religion. Data analysis revealed that students enrolled in Study of Religion in Year 12 are struggling to construct meaning when phenomenological methodologies are predominantly employed. This is arguably a result of phenomenological methodologies having their provenance within a modernist paradigm. Consequently, methodologies that once assisted students to make meaning effectively in a modern context are unable to continue to do so in a post-modern context. This may be due to paradigmatic shifts in Education, Philosophy and Religious Studies.
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