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The Influence of Feelings on Cognitive Achievement in Religious Education

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image of Journal of Empirical Theology

It has commonly been assumed that when it comes to religion, affect and cognition are mutually related. In this article we examine whether feelings influence cognitive achievement in religious education on the basis of two strategic interventions in the primary school classroom. Both interventions are meant to help students achieve cognitive understanding of religious ideas by interpreting biblical parables and other stories, but they do so in different ways. The research group comprised 257 grade 5 and 6 religiously heterogeneous students.

Results of the analyses show that positive feelings, negative feelings and boredom all have an impact on students' knowledge, comprehension and application of religious ideas and learning strategies when dealing with parables. They also showed that belief in God and participation in religious practices actively affect how feelings influence achievement. There are also indications that achievement influences feelings.

Results are discussed in terms of feelings that can enhance or inhibit the use of existing knowledge and learning strategies, and in terms of aspects of students' religious identity. Implications for educational practice are considered.

Affiliations: 1: Institute for Catholic Education at the Radboud University Nijmegen; 2: Department of Empirical Practical Theology at the Radboud University Nijmegen; 3: Department of Educational Sciences at the Radboud University Nijmegen


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