The overriding purpose of Christian liberal arts colleges in the United States is to offer a comprehensive education to their students. Inherent in this goal is the deliberate integration of Christian faith with academic content; it is, after all, what differentiates Christian institutions of higher education from their secular counterparts (Muntz & Crabtree, 2006). The mission statement of Trinity International University (TIU) in Deerfield, Illinois is to “educate men and women for faithful participation in God’s redemptive work in the world by cultivating academic excellence, Christian fidelity and lifelong learning.” The Division of Education that prepares candidates for certification to teach in K-12 schools in the state of Illinois defines its more specific mission thusly: “to develop highly qualified Christian teachers who view teaching as a mission; they nurture their students, reflect critically on their practice, and facilitate classroom experience to maximize the potential of all learners.” Implicit in this conceptual framework is that faculty members will engage in their own integration of faith and learning so that they can model what it means to be Christian teachers.
In February 2009, as professors in TIU’s Division of Education, we informally surveyed a group of traditional undergraduate education majors during a department chapel session to discover their perceptions about the integration of faith and learning within our department. We were curious to find out whether or not what we believed we were doing in our classes regarding the integration of faith and learning was in fact impacting our teacher candidates. After defining the concept of the integration of faith and learning in broad terms, we asked them what has helped them become “highly qualified Christian teachers” within our education program. Their responses primarily focused on the more external aspects of demonstrating personal faith; i.e., professors’ leading in devotions at the beginning of classes and modeling Christian behaviors and attitudes. Admittedly, we were somewhat disappointed with their answers, concluding that our teacher candidates were not viewing integration as an academic endeavor that requires deep intellectual as well as spiritual analysis (Hasker, 1992). This concern led to a desire to explore their perceptions further in a more formal way, leading us to review the literature on the integration of faith and learning in Christian colleges and universities and to conduct this particular research study.
Matthias, Laurie R. and Wrobbel, Karen
"Teacher Candidates’ Perceptions of the Integration of Faith and Learning as Christian Vocation,"
International Christian Community of Teacher Educators Journal: Vol. 8
, Article 5.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.georgefox.edu/icctej/vol8/iss1/5