Sunteți pe pagina 1din 13

CREATIVE TEACHING

TEACHING THEOLOGY: SOME AFFECTIVE


STRATEGIES
Richard Ognibene and Richard Penaskovic
The College of Saint Rose
ABSTRACT

This essay examines an approach to teaching theology in which


"asking andfooling"are equally important concerns. It is argued that
courses in theology can be structured in ways that eliminate the
cognitive-affective dichotomy, while providing experiences whose
motivational appeal enhances dialogue and the prospect of indi-
vidual growth. Special attention is given to: (1) ways of structuring
the classroom experience so that students become responsible for
their own learning; (2) activities designed to enhance the self-
concept; and (3) methods for developing interpersonal communica-
tion skills that promote effective group discussion.

Recent work in the area of hermeneu tics has made scholars aware of
their own presuppositions and prejudices in understanding a text.1 A
case can be made for saying that college theology teachers should be
sensitive to their own presuppositions and prejudices in teaching their
particular courses. At the outset of this article we would like to be quite
candid in unpacking our pedagogical presuppositions and prejudices:
(1) The same pedagogical principles apply to the teaching/learning
of theology that apply to other disciplines in the humanities. Which
method a particular instructor uses is less important than employing
sound pedagogical principles in whatever method a given instructor
chooses.
*The English word, prejudice, has a pejorative connotation. The Latin term,
praejudicium can be understood both positively and negatively. There are legitimate
prejudices, although such a view is foreign to our present day use of the word. See Hans
Georg Gadamer, Truth and Method (New York: Seabury, 1975), p. 240.
Richard Ognibene is the Dean of Graduate and Continuing Studies at The College of Saint
Rose (Albany, NY 12203), He received his Ed.D. in educational history from the University
of Rochester, and has directed teacher education programs at two New York State colleges.
He has written about college teaching in the Midwest Education Review and in Improving
College and University Teaching.

Richard Penaskovic, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, teaches courses in systema-


tic theology and ethics at The College of Saint Rose (Albany, NY 12203). He received the
Ph.D. in theology from the University of Munich in 1973 with the thesis, Open to the Spirit:
The Notion of the Laity in the Writings of J. H. Newman (Augsburg: W. Blasaditsch Verlag,
1973). He has published more than twenty articles in such diverse journals as Augustinian
Studies, the Teaching-Learning Journal, the Ecumenist and most recently Theological
Studies (June, 1960}: "Roman Catholic Recognition of the Augsburg Confession."

HORIZONS 8/1 (1981), 97-108


98 HORIZONS

(2) A college consists only of students, that is, inquirers, some of


whom happen to teach. Instructors should show themselves as they are,
namely, ignorant persons thinking, actively using their own small share
of knowledge.2
(3) Neither teacher nor student has a monopoly on wisdom. Con-
versely, neither has a monopoly on ignorance.
(4) Students are first and foremost persons who should be treated
gently, with care and a great deal of respect.
(5) Like physical health, the life of the mind needs to be stimulated
and cultivated. Mental cultivation means the way the mind functions
when aroused. Students need to be challenged in order for them to rise to
their own level of competency.
(6) Learning affects the total person, mind, will, feelings, and emo-
tions. Therefore teaching must be directed to the whole person and not
merely to the intellect.
(7) Teaching shall always be a finite enterprise. No instructor can
be one hundred percent effective with a particular class all of the time.
Even the very best of instructors have their days.
(8) Students remember best what they themselves have written,
said, or read. Hence no particular halo of sanctity surrounds the lecture
method. Other methods of teaching may be equally effective. It is better
to do one's education rather than to receive it.3
(9) Students should have some say regarding course content and
structure. This will allow students to have a certain amount of owner-
ship of the course.
(10) Subject matter is a means to an end and not the end itself.
Students should be taught to become self-motivated and to learn on their
own. When students get into a glow over the study of religion, the
important thing is not the study, but the glow.
We maintain that the teaching of theology has as its aim both
intellectual and affective learning. Intellectual learning aims at learning
facts and their relation and at rational analysis, that is, the nature of
Scripture, the philosophical foundations of religious doctrine, the his-
tory of religion, the structure and organization of contemporary reli-
gious institutions. In affective learning, on the other hand, feelings and
emotions are predominant. With affective learning one aims to develop
emotional and moral sensitivities and to achieve a deep commitment to
certain values.4
2
Alfred North Whitehead, The Aims of Education (New York: Free Press, 1967), p. 37.
3
Matthew Fox, "Religious Education as Symbol-Making," Notre Dame Journal of
Education 5 (1974), 238.
4
William J. McGill, "APrologemenonto Humanistic Learning," Liberal Education 60
(1974), 250. See Thomas R. McDaniel, "The Cognitive and Affective in Liberal Education:
Can We Have Both?" Liberal Education 62 (1976), 465-71, and Raymond Abba, "Athens
and Jerusalem: Religious Studies in the Secular University," Religious Education 70
(1975), 355-74.
Ognibene and Penaskovic: Teaching Theology 99

We strongly assert that it is not a question of positing the Apollonian


model which emphasizes intellect, or the Dionysian model which
stresses feelings and emotions, since both wind up on the same dead-end
street, namely, an ultimately de-humanizing pattern for learning. In
contradistinction to these flawed Greek and Enlightenment models,
liberal learning should opt for a Hebraic anthropology which considers
the total person, mind and heart together in society and in history. We
should understand the human person not by what he/she knows as
intellect or feels as emotion, but by praxis, the intrinsic combination of
thought and emotion in action. We are arguing, then, for a genuine unity
of the human person as opposed to a functional dualism. In the Hebraic
model the human person is not a purely natural being, but rather be-
comes human within a culture and within history.5
In this article we propose to examine an approach to teaching
theology courses in which "asking and feeling" are equally important
concerns. Our purpose is not to critique traditional, cognitively-oriented
instructional methods. Rather, we believe that the definition of rational
encompasses all of a person's mental acts, including feeling and valuing.
We argue that courses in theology can be structured in ways that elimi-
nate the cognitive-affective dichotomy, while simulatneously providing
experiences whose motivational appeal enhances dialogue and the
prospect of individual growth.
Our presentation is divided into three main parts: (1 ) ways of struc-
turing the classroom experience so that students become responsible for
their own learning; (2) activities designed to enhance the self concept;
and (3) methods for developing interpersonal communication skills that
promote effective group discussion. Our content examples will be
drawn mainly from the Introduction to World Religions course, in part
because such a course has been very content-oriented in the past. We use
the Introduction to World Religion course paradigmatically, that is,
showing how this course, and others, can be enhanced by paying atten-
tion to the affective dimension.

1. The Student as Self-Learner

Many new teachers, and many old ones, believe that they must
strive to master their subject matter before teaching it to their students.
Thus teachers spend the first five or six years of teaching trying to feel at
home with the subject matter themselves before giving it to their stu-
dents confidently. We question the assumption which states, albeit
implicitly, that subject matter is an end to itself. The structure of a
discipline is more important than its infinite details. If we can involve
5
McGill, p. 251.
100 HORIZONS

our students more deeply in some of our course's central concepts, we


believe that over time they will seek out the particulars they need.6
In his book, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Paulo Freir speaks of the
banking concept of education. In this educational model the teacher is
the narrating subject over against the students who assume the role of
patient, listening objects. In such a theory, the teacher's role is to fill the
students with content. Since students are always put on the receiving
end as passive receivers of the teacher's narration, students begin to
doubt their own ability to think. According to Freier, education suffers
from narration sickness.7
We suggest that theology instructors might better spend their time
devising means for students to approach the material so that its value
will become demonstrably self-evident. In this way students will be on
their way to becoming self-motivated to learn and to take charge of their
own learning. In addition to asking, "What do my students know about
my discipline," it seems equally important to ask, "What can my stu-
dents do with their knowledge?"
We are asking instructors in theology to stop worrying about
course coverage. Instead, they should be concerned with asking how
students can handle the course material by themselves. The main task of
teachers consists in finding out what kinds of skills students must
acquire in order to become progressively less dependent on them.
In teaching courses in theology we should be concerned with mov-
ing ourselves from center stage. We agree with Paulo Freir that educa-
tion aims to liberate students so that they can manager their own learn-
ing. Our job as teachers is to teach students the tools of our trade.
Inasmuch as there is no one method endemic to theology, this is a rather
tall task.
We would like to summarize this section with this paradoxical
statement: "The one who teaches least, teaches best." We interpret such
a statement to mean that the best teachers are those that make themselves
superfluous. By making students depend on us for their learning we are
not really doing them a favor. Students must become responsible for
their own learning. In teaching medical ethics, for example, we use peer
teaching. Students are involved in projects dealing with ethical issues
such as euthanasia, genetic screening, recombinant DNA, etc.
Here is another example of a strategy we have used to help students
to become self-learners. In the Introduction to World Religions course
we have divided a class of thirty undergraduates into groups of five for
meetings outside of class. Each group has the task of presenting one of
the world religions to the rest of the class. A leader and co-leader were
"Roger H. Garrison, "The Tools of the Teaching Trade," improving College and
University Teaching 24 (1976), 69. See Jerome Bruner, The Process of Education (New
York: Vintage, 1963), chapter 2.
7
Paulo Freir, Pedagogy of the Oppressed (New York: Herder & Herder, 1972), p. 57.
Ognibene and Penaskovic: Teaching Theology 101

selected by each of the small groups to act as a liaison between the small
group and the instructor. The leader was also responsible for reporting
any difficulties the small group encountered in its task. The co-leader
was selected to take over the leadership of the group if, on a particular
day, the leader had to be absent from class.
The group on Judaism put on the entire Seder meal. They reserved
the President's dining room at the College for the meal, purchased and
prepared all of the ingredients, borrowed liturgical booklets from a local
synagogue, and asked someone knowledgeable in the Jewish religion to
lead the service.
Each member of the small group did research on one particular
aspect of Judaism, for example, Jewish holidays, mysticism, ethics,
doctrine, and Scripture. Some members showed slides and/or played
cassettes related to their project. Each member of the group made a ten
minute oral presentation to the class on Judaism. Students were encour-
aged to plan imaginative presentations and not to stand up and read
before the class. For evaluation purposes, students turned in a one page
written summary of their research and a short bibliography, thus enab-
ling the instructor to grade on material other than an oral presentation.
They felt that a written summary guaranteed the possibility of a more
objective grade rather than one based on their oral presentation skills.
We also found it helpful to make arrangements with the librarian to
give a fifty minute overview of the bibliography and research pos-
sibilities in the area of world religions. We often assume, incorrectly as it
turned out, that students know how to use the library. Several upperclass
students said they wished that such a presentation was given to them
when they were freshmen.
We feel that the most legitimate student question goes something
like this: "Of what use is this theology course to me?" Instructors need to
spend time dealing with this question at the start of each course. Debat-
ing this question, and arriving at tentative solutions which are genuinely
open to subsequent modification provides motivation for students to
take responsibility for their own schooling. If this is done, we believe
that the number of students dropping the course will be lowered, since
now their will-to-relevancy need will have, in part, been met.
Students can also be encouraged toward increased responsibility
through the use of an evaluation system that permits alternate routes to a
final grade. We want to know what our students think, but sometimes
shyness or classroom logistics, especially in large classes, prohibits
students from regularly entering into discussions. We let students de-
cide whether they prefer to write a journal or to receive a grade based on
class participation. We want to check students' understanding of the
assigned reading, and can do this through quizzes, critiques, or reports.
Again we let individual students make the choice. We want to know if
102 HORIZONS

students have synthesized and can apply the course materials and ex-
periences to broad questions. A final examination with comprehensive
rather than narrow questions is one way to determine this, but so also is a
final essay responding to a theme(s) students perceive as central to the
course. The point is that there are alternate ways to evaluate almost any
component of a course that an instructor wishes to evaluate. Giving
students choices here is not merely democratic. It is motivational and is
an honest response to the reality of multiple student learning styles.

2. Enhancing the Self-Concept

This section of our article corresponds to numbers two and four of


our presuppositions. The self-concept may be defined as the individu-
al's view of his or her own unique attributes. In other words, the self-
concept may be called the totality of one's limits, capability, desires,
attainments and judgments as one perceives these within oneself. Most
researchers agree that the self-concept derives largely from the opinions
of significant others in one's interpersonal world.8
Jersild sees the self-concept as comprised of perceptual, conceptual
and attitudinal components. The perceptual part of the self-concept
includes one's awareness of one's bodily movements, bodily sensations
and one's idea of what one's body looks like. The conceptual part of the
self-concept is one's view of one's past, one's potential, and the unique
combination of abilities, flaws, temperaments and other characteristics
that set the individual apart from all others. The attitudinal component
is simply one's evaluation of one's worth as a person. Some parts of this
self-judgment are one's sense of self-respect, pride, self-esteem, shame,
and one's belief in one's worthiness of love and acceptance.9
We will now suggest some concrete strategies for enhancing the
students' self-concept within the context of courses in theology. On the
first day of class the instructor should make a point of being there first to
greet students as they come into the classroom and to write necessary
information about the course on the blackboard so that students know
they are in the right place. The instructor welcomes the students and
introduces him or herself to the students giving them sufficient informa-
tion to enable them to see his or her human side.10
The instructor asks everyone to move their chairs into a circle so that
each student can be seen, and then asks students to give their first and
last names very slowly and distinctly. As students give their own name,
8
Joy Penticuff, "Development of the Concept of Self: Implications for the Teacher's
Role in Promotion of Mental Health," Educational Horizons 55 (1976), 15-18.
9
lbid., p. 17.
"Richard G. Hause, "Humane Teaching," improving College and University Teach-
ing 23 (1975), 69.
Ognibene and Penaskovic: Teaching Theology 103

they also repeat the names of all the students who have gone before them.
Mere repetition allows a class of thirty students to know each other's
names iji less than twenty minutes. Knowing names not only enhances
the students' self-concept (since it makes us feel important for others to
know our name), but it helps to further human relations in the classroom.
How can relevant discussion possibly proceed on an impersonal basis in
courses such as Sexual Ethics or the Theology of Death?
The next step consists in asking each student in the circle to tell
something about him or herself that no one would guess just by looking.
This obvious gimmick manages to get students talking every time, eases
the strain of the first day of class, and provides the instructor with a great
deal of helpful information. It gives students a certain satisfaction in
knowing that the instructor thinks that they are important enough to
deserve being known by their name and the characteristic they choose to
reveal.
Similar but different activities can continue throughout the semes-
ter. It only takes a few minutes to ask students to repeat their name
(during the first or second week of the semester) and then share "the best
thing that happened to them in the last two weeks." Later in the semes-
ter, the instructor might ask each student to complete the statement "this
week I learned that " Answers to questions like these are often touch-
ing, sometimes silly, and a few students exercise the option not to
respond. Overall, students seem happy that you asked, the responses
provide concrete ways to remember students, and sometimes provide a
basis for further in and out of class interactions. Almost always, they
make dialogue about the course content easy to start and continue.
Another strategy for enhancing students' self-concept consists in
becoming aware of the attitude we, as teachers, have both toward our
students and toward ourselves. The theory of the self-concept assumes
that we behave according to our beliefs. If this assumption is true, it
follows that instructors' beliefs about themselves and their students are
crucial factors in determining the instructor's effectiveness in the class-
room. Available evidence indicates that teachers' attitudes about them-
selves and their students are as important, if not more so, than their
techniques and their materials.11
Our experience suggests that instructors must have positive and
realistic attitudes about themselves and their abilities before they can
reach out to, and respect, others. We see a close relationship between the
way we see ourselves and the way we see others. It seems to be almost
axiomatic that if we accept ourselves, we are more accepting of others.
Whereas if we reject ourselves, we hold a correspondingly low opinion
of our students and perceive them as being self-rejecting. Thus, before
11
W. W. Perkey, "The Task of the Teacher," in The Helping Relationship Sourcebook,
D. L. Avila et al, eds. (Boston: Allyn & Bacon, Inc., 1971), p. 256.
104 HORIZONS

we can build positive, realistic self-concept in our students, we have to


first respect, like and accept ourselves.
In teaching the World Religion and other theology courses we
attempt to project an image that conveys our desire to build rather than to
destroy the student as a person. We try to hold the student in esteem,
thus creating an environment that fosters growth. Here are some ways to
accomplish this. Adopt a "smile and pass" rule. This means that when
asking the student a direct question and the student does not know the
answer, the student has the option of "smiling and passing." Students
often feel on the spot when they are called on in front of their peers. This
"smile and pass" rule allows them to pass without shattering their
sometimes fragile self-esteem. Students invariably comment on the fact
that they really enjoy the "smile and pass" rule since it takes the pressure
off them. The "smile and pass" rule allows the instructor to ask many
direct questions whenever the class seems bored. The instructor can
proceed to ask direct questions without getting students uptight.
Another strategy for enhancing the self-concept is to make the
statement to the class that there are no dumb questions. It is insufficient
to point this out only at the start of the semester; students should be
reminded regularly. When a student does ask a question, try to point out
the profundity of the question, or if appropriate try to relate the question
to other important theoretical issues. Sometimes students ask irrelevant
questions. What then? Tell the students that that particular question will
be put "on hold" until it comes up in the course outline.
There are ways of telling students that they are wrong without
putting them down. Some strategies for this are the following: (1) "Ac-
tually, the research does not support the view which you espouse." How
can anyone feel put down upon hearing such a statement? (2) Depend-
ing on what the student has said, sometimes it is appropriate to say,
'That's a good point for openers, can anyone in the class qualify that
particular statement so that it is exactly on target?" (3) Distinguish
portions of the student's statement. "You are on the money with the first
part of your statement, but there are several questions in regard to the
latter part of your position." These approaches are not dishonest since
they do not give approval to an incorrect answer. On the other hand, they
do try to point out the positive and to accentuate it.
The way teachers perceive students is important. We believe that,
on the whole, students do what is expected of them. If we expect our
students to gain intellectually, to grow into knowledge of the world
religions and to be enthusiastic about studying theology, they will do so.
If we are enthusiastic about our subject-matter, so will our students be.
Learning is contagious. It is often a matter of what is caught rather than
what is taught.
Ognibene and Penaskovic: Teaching Theology 105

3. Promoting Effective Group Discussion

This, the final section of our article has reference to numbers two,
three and four of our presuppositions. We claim that authentic thinking
involves two elements: dialogue and communication. We are decidedly
influenced by Paulo Freir when he speaks of "problem-posing educa-
tion." In problem-posing education both teachers and students are sub-
jects, or, as we put it in our introduction, "A college consists only of
students, that is, inquirers, some of whom happen to teach."
One cannot always distinguish teacher from those being taught in a
problem-posing education. The teacher is not one who merely teaches,
but is also taught in a dialogue with the students. Hence arguments based
on authority are inappropriate. In a dialogue the authority essentially
rests with the dialogue itself. The authority, namely, the willingly
sought source of help, is dispersed among, and shared by the partici-
pants in the dialogue. Hence the locus of the authority changes in accor-
dance with the nature of a particular consideration.12
The word "dialogue," comes from the Greek, dia-Jogos, that is,
"between meanings." The dialogic situation makes possible a teach-
ing/learning process between meanings, that is, between persons bear-
ing unique significance in which each person teaches, and learns from
each other. Sajed Kamel puts it well when he writes, "In dialogue, each
person is regarded as a learner-teacher, with due respect and apprecia-
tion from others for this unique experience and resourcefulness."13
In order for dialogue to flourish in the classroom it is imperative that
number four of our presuppositions be uppermost in the mind of the
instructor. "Students are first and foremost persons and should be
treated gently, with care and a great deal of respect." For dialogue to take
place the instructor must trust the students. There must be an ethic of
interdependence in order for dialogue to occur. In the interdependent
dialogic situation, the attitudes, feelings, impressions, approaches, ver-
bal and non-verbal communication among the class members are signi-
ficant and are fostered. These are the channels through which persons
view each other. Hence these means can have either healthy or deleteri-
ous effects upon a person's identity. Dialogue requires authenticity and a
mutual sense of responsibility among the participants.
Problem-posing education has this effect, namely, that students
come to feel like masters of their own thinking. If both teachers and
students are regarded as a "Thou" in Martin Buber's terms, or as subject,
then this kind of dialogue encourages critical thinking, and the class-
room becomes the catalyst for the creation of a community of truth. This
12
Sajed Kamel, "The Nature of Dialogue in Humanistic Education," Journal of Educa-
tion 157 (1975), 9.
13
ibid., p. 8.
106 HORIZONS

ties in with number three of our presuppositions which says that


"Neither teacher nor student has a monopoly on wisdom. Conversely,
neither has a monopoly on ignorance." In a community of truth there are,
as Freir wisely observes, neither ignoramuses nor the perfectly wise,
but men and women trying to learn more than they now know.14
We suggest seven strategies for developing interpersonal com-
munication and for promoting effective group discussion.
(1) Students usually find it easier to speak in a small group rather
than in a large one, and so we usually divide our classes into small
groups, even if they are rather large. We then ask a question and give
students the opportunity to discuss this question in their groups for a
specified period of time. It is beneficial to have one person, chosen by the
group, record the flow of conversation and present the highlights of the
small group discussions to the entire class. Once students have spoken
in small groups they are much more willing to do so in the larger group.
(2) Students often need time to think before speaking. The instruc-
tor can use silence to facilitate group discussion. The instructor says
nothing when consciously using this behavior but instead tolerates
periods of lengthy silence.15 It appears to us that some students need
three or four minutes to ponder what has been said before answering a
question. Silence provides students with "alone time," for thinking,
reflecting, and generalizing. When the instructor remains silent after
posing a question, it helps students realize that they have the responsi-
bility for coming up with a solution.
(3) In many discussion situations students have been conditioned
to think that there is only one right answer or conclusion. The instructor
can give students the freedom to express their own opinions and
criticize more openly by posing a problem, summing-up opposing
points of view, and then asking students which point of view they agree
with and why. Students will be less fearful about responding creatively
once they realize that there is no one right answer.16
(4) Acceptance is another set of competencies in the instructor's
repertoire that promotes effective group discussion. The instructor dem-
onstrates acceptance by being non-judgmental and non-evaluative,
and gives no clues through word, posture or gesture as to which idea is
right or wrong. These behaviors intentionally support or create a climate
where students can take risks, and critically examine their own values,
criteria, ideas and feelings. As Charles Lavaroni points out, instructors
who are accepting of students can encourage them to respond to their
"Freir, p. 79.
"Charles Lavaroni, "Implementing the Humanistic Curriculum in the Classroom,"
Thrust for Educational Leadership 5 (1976), 28.
16
Alice F. Worsley, "Improving Classroom Discussion: Ten Principles," Improving
College and University Teaching 23 (1975), 27. See Neil Postman and Charles Weingart-
ner, Teaching As A Subversive Activity (New York: Delacorte, 1969), chapter .
Ognibene and Penaskovic: Teaching Theology 107

own motivation and reenforcement patterns through specific behaviors


as (a) verbally or non-verbally indicating understanding of the stu-
dent; (b) recasting or restating the ideas of the student; (c) recasting or
restating the feelings expressed by those ideas; and (d) emphatically
stating and sharing the students' feelings.17 Instructors should indicate
their acceptance of students' ideas and feelings even though those ideas
may differ from their own. Instructors assure students that they have
been heard and that the students have the power and responsibility to
personally modify their concepts and values.18
(5) The instructor may use clarification in order to enhance group
discussion. The instructor clarifies when he/she says, "I'm not sure I
really understand your question about the Hindu Scriptures, please say a
little more about that," or when he/she makes such statements as, "Help
me understand what you mean by that remark." Such behaviors reflect
the instructor's interest in listening to what the student is trying to say.
These behaviors relate to acceptance and even extend that acceptance
because they allow the instructor to better understand the student's
ideas, feelings and values.19
(6) Modeling is another behavior that helps promote effective group
discussion. To effectively model trust and openness, the teacher must be
trusting and open. If, for example, listening to those with whom we
disagree is a valued outcome of instruction, then the instructor who
listens to those with whom he disagrees is modeling that behavior. There
must be consistency between what an instructor says and what he/she
does. If not, a credibility gap between instructor and students will
certainly develop.
(7) Pose problems directly related to your students' experiences,
and thus avoid overly dry discussions. As Alice Worsley notes, students
become more involved in discussions which are relevant to their own
lives and concerns.20 Whenever possible, therefore, the application of
the world religions to everyday living should be emphasized. In talking
about Sufi mysticism, for example, we have asked students if they have
ever had some kind of mystic experience. In a course on Revelation and
Faith we ask students what they know about us from what we have
revealed so far by way of speech patterns, body language, mannerisms,
etc. After students give various responses we speak of God's revelation to
humanity through word and deed.
We maintain that many of our strategies may be modified for
teachers who face large classes. In addition to knowledge of the subject
"Lavaroni, p. 27.
18
Ibid. See Carl Rogers, Freedom to Learn (Columbus, OH: Charles Men-ill, 1969),
chapter 4.
19
Lavaroni, p. 28. See Louis Raths, Merrill Harmin, and Sidney Simon, Values and
Teaching (Columbus, OH: Charles Merrill, 1966), chapter 5.
20
Worsley, p. 27. For an excellent overview of communication strategies, see David
Johnson, Reaching Out (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1972).
108 HORIZONS

matter, the instructor must show a concern for the student. The instruc-
tor should go into the audience and chat with students at random before
class begins. Students are thus set at ease and get to see the instructor as a
human being. Another helpful approach is to break students up into
small groups to discuss the day's material for the last ten or fifteen
minutes of class. This gives students the chance to interact and hence the
class ends on a personal note.21
We also recommend that teaching assistants administer a mid-term
course evaluation. Students are asked to write two negative and two
positive statements about the class and their role in it. Students should
then form small groups which should strive for a consensus on several
positive and negative statements. Each small group may also be asked to
state what they have learned so far in the course of what they want to
learn for the remainder of the semester. In addition, it may be beneficial
to form a "student advisory committee," whose major function is to
provide confidential telephone opinion surveys of other students in the
course and to help arrange for guest speakers. Students are also given the
name, address and phone numbers of the committee members and are
asked to communicate with them or the instructor as needed.22

Conclusion

We have tried to show, using several concrete strategies, how atten-


tion to the affective dimension can add to the value of courses in theol-
ogy. There are, of course, some limits to our approach, especially among
instructors who favor a highly structured classroom environment. A
simple test exists which can determine whether a particular instructor
can use our strategies effectively. If the instructor is in agreement with
most of our ten presuppositions and prejudices, then that particular
instructor will probably be able to use our suggestions.
Ultimately what happens to students rests in the hands of the indi-
vidual teacher. The teacher sets the tone for the entire class, determining
whether or not it will be safe for the exploration of new concepts, skills
and competencies. Our contention is that strategies like the ones
suggested above set a tone that help achieve both affective and cognitive
goals.
21
James S. Bowman, "The Lecture-Discussion Format Revisited," Improving College
and University Teaching 27 (1979), 26.
22
Bowman, p. 27. Teachers who face large classes might consult the following articles
in Improving College and University Teaching: John W. Wick, "Making a Big Lecture
Section a Good Course," 22 (1974), 249-52; Peter J. Frederick, "The American Dream and
Educational Innovation," 23 (1975), 133-44; and Frank P. Bazeli, "Learning Team Ap-
proach to Large Group Instruction," 26 (1978), 201-02.
^ s
Copyright and Use:

As an ATLAS user, you may print, download, or send articles for individual use
according to fair use as defined by U.S. and international copyright law and as
otherwise authorized under your respective ATLAS subscriber agreement.

No content may be copied or emailed to multiple sites or publicly posted without the
copyright holder(s)' express written permission. Any use, decompiling,
reproduction, or distribution of this journal in excess of fair use provisions may be a
violation of copyright law.

This journal is made available to you through the ATLAS collection with permission
from the copyright holder(s). The copyright holder for an entire issue of a journal
typically is the journal owner, who also may own the copyright in each article. However,
for certain articles, the author of the article may maintain the copyright in the article.
Please contact the copyright holder(s) to request permission to use an article or specific
work for any use not covered by the fair use provisions of the copyright laws or covered
by your respective ATLAS subscriber agreement. For information regarding the
copyright holder(s), please refer to the copyright information in the journal, if available,
or contact ATLA to request contact information for the copyright holder(s).

About ATLAS:

The ATLA Serials (ATLAS) collection contains electronic versions of previously


published religion and theology journals reproduced with permission. The ATLAS
collection is owned and managed by the American Theological Library Association
(ATLA) and received initial funding from Lilly Endowment Inc.

The design and final form of this electronic document is the property of the American
Theological Library Association.