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Relationship between Goal Orientations and Educational Methods in Christian Adult Education

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Christian adult education has various goals and educational methods. From a theoretical perspective the authors' task is to formulate a relationship between goals and methods. Their distinction between goals is based on whether the authority for Christian identity formation lies 'outside' or 'inside' the adult learner. The distinction between educational methods is based on the question whether the educator or the learner, or both, directs the learning process. With regard to the direction of the choice between goals and educational methods, this article distinguishes between three possible directions: the choice of a goal orientation leads to the choice of educational methods; the choice of educational methods leads to the choice of a goal orientation; or there is mutual influencing between the two choices. The research shows that adult educators consistently choose the goal orientation of transformation when they opt for the educational methods of experiential and mediated learning. A preference for transformation predicts a preference for mediated and experiential learning, and vice versa. Preference for transformation and the educational methods of experiential and mediated learning is influenced by four characteristics of Christian adult educators. These characteristics yield a consistent profile of educators who are open to pluralism: both in the sense of alternative religiosity, in terms of bringing modern ideas into the church (cultural openness) and not refusing membership to any person who wants to join the church (structural openness), and by rejecting restrictions on the contents and aims of adult education by the church hierarchy (orthodoxy check). The article concludes with a critical reflection on the lack of coherence between the other goals of Christian adult education and educational methods.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Empirical Practical Theology at the Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands;, Email:; 2: Department of Empirical Practical Theology at the Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands;, Email:; 3: Department of Empirical Practical Theology at the Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands;, Email:


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