Skip to content

Volume 6, Issue 1

Volume 6, Issue 1

Letter from the Editor
Some thoughts from our editor, Christina Belcher.

Faculty Perceptions of Academic Freedom at a Private Religious University
James A. Swezey & T. Christopher Ross

Academic freedom is viewed by many in higher education as an indispensible foundational principle offering protection to university faculty. University faculty working within schools of education rely on the protection of academic freedom to pursue and develop new knowledge, frameworks, and pedagogies with which they can train and equip the next generation of classroom teachers and school administrators. Private religious universities have been a part of the American education landscape since the founding of Harvard University, yet the perception exists that faculty at religious universities are de facto inhibited by the religious commitment of many of these institutions. This study examines the concept of academic freedom as viewed by 18 senior faculty at Regent University, a private religious institution. Findings demonstrate faculty generally support an institutional perspective of academic freedom and express a high level of comfort with limited restrictions on academic freedom in light of the university’s religious mission. Implications exist for all faculty, especially those at religious institutions.

The Role of Controversial Issues in Moral Education: Approaches and Attitudes of Christian School Educators
Samuel J. Smith

This study investigated the approaches and attitudes of Christian school teachers as they addressed controversial issues in moral education. Thirteen teachers from four schools were interviewed extensively. A hermeneutic phenomenological methodology was implemented. Participants conveyed that they attempted to remain pedagogically neutral in matters relating to denominational differences among Christian churches. While acknowledging that indoctrinative techniques may alienate students, teachers chose to indoctrinate selectively, especially in matters critical to the Christian faith. Issues impacting the classrooms included abortion, sex, doctrine, homosexuality, evolution, etc. Teachers rarely chose to remain neutral on controversial issues unless by doing so they sensed that they would undermine parental authority or a particular Christian church’s denominational doctrine.

Teaching and Learning by Analogy: Psychological Perspectives on the Parables of Jesus
Kevin B. Zook

Christian teachers are often encouraged to use Jesus’ teaching strategies as models for their own pedagogy. Jesus frequently utilized analogical comparisons, or parables, to help his learners understand elements of his Gospel message. Although teachers can use analogical models to facilitate comprehension, such models also can sow the seeds of confusion and misconception. Recent advances in cognitive psychology have provided new theoretical frameworks to help us understand how instructional analogies function in the teaching-learning process. The goal of this paper is to analyze Jesus’ analogical teaching from these psychological perspectives, with implications for all teachers who utilize instructional analogies. In addition to reviewing basic analogical learning processes, I explore a six-variable model to account systematically for potential analogical misconceptions.

Students’ Perspective on Intrinsic Motivation to Learn: A model to guide educators
Jane Taylor Wilson

The purpose of this qualitative study was to understand the collective perspective of what motivates students to exert effort and energy towards learning tasks in a classroom setting. To reach this goal, the researcher utilized a qualitative methodology, the Insider Perspective Approach, to take a deep look inside the classroom experience and examine the broad view of the students’ collective perspective. A model for situational motivation is presented suggesting factors that educators can manipulate to enhance students’ intrinsic motivation to learn: control, competence, active involvement, variety, curiosity, challenge, a sense of belonging, and honored voices. When teachers integrate these constructs as they plan activities and assignments, students’ intrinsic motivation to learn will be enhanced.

Teacher Vital Signs: A Two-country Study of Teacher Vitality
Delta Cavner

Defining teacher vitality as the vigor, energy, passion, and joy teachers bring to their classroom, students and colleagues; this article describes an international, comparative, qualitative, phenomenological study of teachers’ lived experiences to determine the elements influencing teacher vitality. This is a two-country, multiple-case study of twenty-one middle and high school teachers who had taught ten to twenty years. In order to serve as a confirmation of the universality of the elements of teacher vitality, the study was not only conducted in two different schools in Idaho, but also was replicated in two different schools in Austria. In each of the four participating schools, both high and low-vitality teachers were matched for similarities, then investigated to determine why—in the same school, with the same administration and colleagues, and with the same struggles and challenges—some teachers maintain their vitality while other teachers lose their vitality and may even want to leave the profession. Data in the form of field notes, interview transcripts, categorized relevant information, composite comparisons, and anecdotal stories are analyzed to isolate patterns in teachers’ perceptions of their vitality in the classroom. The goal of this analysis is to identify common themes and to develop principles to help teachers receive life, vigor, and enjoyment from their work.