The influence of cognitive conflict on religious thinking in fifth and sixth grade children Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/q811kp10t

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  • The purpose of this study was to test the effectiveness of two religious education curricula in facilitating measure-able concrete-to-abstract movement in children's religious thinking. Subjects for the study were 47 fifth and sixth grade children enrolled in the Sunday School classes of four Oregon United Methodist Churches. Twenty-four children who served as experimental subjects were exposed to the Cognitive Conflict Curriculum. Twenty-three subjects who served as control subjects were exposed to the Christian Studies curriculum. The curricula were taught in Sunday School sessions of the target churches over a period of eight weeks. Pre-and post- measures of religious thinking were obtained on the two summed scales, RTTC and RTTA, of John H. Peatling's Thinking About the Bible instrument. One central null hypothesis was formulated to focus the comparisons of the experimental and control groups with respect to changes in concrete to abstract religious thinking. A 2(program) X 2(grade) X 2(sex) analysis of covariance using regression was employed to analyze the data. The pretest was designed as a covariate in the analysis to statistically equate any variation present in the scores of the subjects prior to treatment. The analysis of covariance, applied separately to the two scales, produced strikingly similar results. For both scales, the main effects of program, grade, and sex were not significant, and for both scales there was a significant interaction effect between program and grade. Since the analysis revealed no significant difference for the main effect of program, the null hypothesis could not be rejected. However, since the analysis did reveal a significant interaction effect of program X grade, further analysis in the form of t-tests was undertaken to assess the degree of significance between mean adjusted posttest scores of experimental and control group fifth and sixth graders. For fifth graders, no significant differences were revealed on either scale; for sixth graders, significant differences were revealed on both scales. The original analysis of covariance also revealed that the main effect of sex was not significant, and that the interaction of program and sex was not significant. These findings were sufficient to conclude that, as a group, neither females nor males exposed to the experimental curriculum were more likely to advance in religious thinking (decrease in concrete thinking, increase in abstract thinking) than females or males exposed to the control curriculum. However, based on the finding that grade level was closely tied to advancement in religious thinking, the data were further analyzed to assess the effects of the curriculum on scores of females and males within grade level groupings. In these analyses, t-tests were again employed. A significant difference was revealed between sixth grade experimental group females and sixth grade control group females, and a difference approaching significance was revealed between sixth grade experimental group males and sixth grade control group males. There was no significant difference for any of the fifth grade comparisons tested. These findings suggest that cognitive conflict may have some benefit as a teaching method for facilitating both decreased concrete religious thinking and increased abstract religious thinking in sixth grade students. Further, the more specific analysis by grade suggests that the effects of the cognitive conflict-based teaching methodology may be more effective for sixth grade females than for sixth grade males.
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