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ERIC Number: ED545593
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 155
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-2675-8162-4
Teaching to Make Disciples in a Higher Education Online Learning Environment: A Comparison of the Literature of Online Learning, the Objectives and Practices of Three Christian Colleges, and the Letters of Paul
Morris, Raymond E.
ProQuest LLC, Ed.D. Dissertation, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
This dissertation explores engaging students in spiritual formation and discipleship in the online environment. This researcher begins with the proposition that the letters of Paul are examples of distance teaching and distance learning. The effectiveness of the letters of Paul in engaging their recipients in spiritual formation and discipleship are an established fact. Therefore, it may be concluded that distance teaching and learning is a valid and effective means of engaging spiritual formation and discipleship growth. This research does address issues of the medium of technology in engaging students in spiritual formation and discipleship. However, the focus of the research is not the technology itself, but rather the use of technology for accomplishing purposeful and relational elements that lead to spiritual formation and discipleship. This research combines information gleaned from literature of online learning and teaching, interviews with program directors and selected professors of online programs of three Christian colleges in the southeastern part of the United States, and principles found in the letters of Paul, to develop a proposed paradigm for online teaching. The purpose of the paradigm is to provide a focus in the online instructional process of the Christian college and the Christian teacher for spiritual formation and discipleship. This research does not address the issue of cognitive outcomes because other researchers have addressed this issue. The research includes psychological considerations that specifically address spiritual formation from a developmental perspective. This is included in order to demonstrate that college students, whether traditional or non-traditional, tend to be at crucial points in their lives with regard to spiritual formation. College students in undergraduate programs fit a developmental profile that suggests they are at an important juncture for examining faith issues. Therefore, the research was limited to undergraduate programs in Christian colleges. The research also addresses sociological considerations for spiritual formation in the online learning environment. Some researchers are concerned about a sense of isolation for the student in the online environment. Consequently, a significant amount of literature exists that propose ways to build community in the online environment. While faith development is often seen as personal and internal, there is a Biblical emphasis upon the faith community. Therefore, this research addresses the sociological implications of building a supportive faith community in the online environment that affects spiritual formation and discipleship. The research also gives significant attention to the Biblical pattern of making disciples, which is highly relational between the teacher and student. Attention is given to a methodological similarity between disciple making and the more modern concept of mentoring. The purpose of this part of the research is to identify the potential role of the teacher as a mentor in a disciple making relationship. The paradigm that is developed from the research is divided into three primary functions for both the program and the individual teacher. Those functions are program and course design, personal and relational aspects of online teaching, and assessment. Each of these categories is specific to engaging spiritual formation and discipleship in the online environment. The design element has five components. The first component is that mission and purpose of making disciples should be clearly addressed in the design of the program and of the courses. A second component is that content should be included which is suitable for stimulating spiritual formation. The third component is that courses should include directive content, which would provide instruction in spiritual formation. The fourth component is that emphasis be made in each course for the teacher to gain knowledge about each student, sufficient that he/she would know how to encourage spiritual formation for each student. Finally, the courses offered should contain practices and content for regular spiritual exercises such as prayer, Bible reading, and personal reflection. The personal element has four components. First is the importance of the presence of the teacher in the online environment. Second, is the teacher should endeavor to build a relational learning and faith community in the online class. Third, the teacher should exemplify an appropriate level of transparency in order to communicate a genuine sincerity and to personalize the learning experience. Finally, the teacher should be an encourager. The assessment element emphasizes the importance of including spiritual formation as part of the regular assessment process. It is emphasized that assessment not only measures outcomes, but it also drives what is included in a course. If spiritual formation outcomes are not measured, it is likely that spiritual formation will not be emphasized in a course. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A