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Parable Understanding in the Primary School Classroom: A Socio-Cultural Perspective on Learning to Understand Parables

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In recent decades parable understanding has been widely researched in the field of pedagogy of religion, mainly conducted in a Piagetian framework. This article presents an intervention study taking a socio-cultural perspective on learning to understand parables. The aim of this research is to investigate the effects of curriculum interventions by way of both comprehensive and partial strategic learning tasks on the understanding of parables in the primary school classroom, as well as which aspects help to explain these effects.

The study involved 484 primary school students in the fifth and sixth grades. It consists of an intervention study involving a quasi-experimental design with two experimental groups and a control group.

Results reveal that the effect on the group which dealt with the partial strategic intervention is greater than that on the control group. The difference in effect between this experimental group and the control group is jointly attributable to the factors of age, gender and initial achievement level.

The study shows that innovation of learning practices is only effective if it proceeds in successive steps. The partial strategic intervention may well be an appropriate first step in the innovation of parable understanding learning practices. Students should first master a limited number of strategies, which gradually increases. This need not wait until the child reaches the age of twelve; the first steps can be taken as early as the age of nine.

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