High school religion teachers in Catholic schools are central to the mission of such schools and teach in every Catholic high school. Research on effective teaching has not traditionally included this subset of teachers. The overall purpose of this study was to research the best instructional practices for high school religion teachers in Washington State, explore how to best implement the best practices, and explore what opportunities for sharing best practices teachers currently have. The Survey of Instructional Practices (SIP) was created, piloted, revised, and administered in this study. The SIP provided information from high school religion teachers in Washington State about lessons deemed to engage students and enhance student learning, in addition to teachers’ opportunities for sharing ideas on best practices for teaching high school religion.
The participants in this study reported on a best lesson taught in a high school religion class and many key findings emerged. The best instructional practices included: (a) discussion, (b) application to real-world situations, (c) application to student’s own life, (d) questioning by teacher, (e) cooperative or collaborative learning, and (f) identifying similarities and differences. Each of these practices is highlighted in the research on best instructional practices for teachers. Furthermore, four major themes emerged for how teachers can implement these practices, which included: (a) clear guidelines and directions, (b) students engaged, (c) student-centered, and (d) students working together. Lastly, participants in the study highlighted the opportunities for sharing best practices as being informal, yet helpful and important. Overall, the findings highlight two important themes for high school religion teachers: (a) the importance of collaboration, both for students and teachers, and (b) the importance of being engaged in the learning process.
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McGah, M. H. (2019). Instructional Practices of High School Religion Teachers. Journal of Catholic Education, 22 (1). http://dx.doi.org/10.15365/joce.2201032019