Academic journal article Journal of Psychology and Theology

Teaching Integration outside the Traditional Classroom

Academic journal article Journal of Psychology and Theology

Teaching Integration outside the Traditional Classroom

Article excerpt

Today's educational environment is being transformed by online technologies that open new venues for teaching and make education accessible far beyond the traditional classroom environment. How might these changes affect the ways we teach the integration of psychology and Christianity? Three faculty members dialogue about such integration opportunities, advantages, and potential disadvantages.

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In a related article published in this special issue, McMinn, Moon, and McCornmick (2009) offer ten strategies for how integration can be taught in a traditional classroom setting. They consider integration in four dimensions (Moon, 1997): practical integration, personal integration, classical integration, and contemporary integration. But to what extent can these same purposes be accomplished through emerging trends in graduate education, such as hybrid and on-line programs? And if so, how is it similar and different from integration training in the traditional classroom?

Two of us (McMinn, Moon) teach in traditional classroom environments-one a residential doctoral program in clinical psychology and the other a residential graduate program offering master's and doctoral degrees in counseling and related fields. Admittedly, McMinn and Moon are unsure how integration training might look in a non-residential program, and perhaps even a bit skeptical, but at the same time they want to remain open to considering new delivery options for post-secondary education. The other author (Dominguez) directs the Human Services Counseling (HSC) program at a university offering both on-campus and off-campus graduate programs. Most HSC students participate in hybrid learning, meaning they complete a portion of their requirements in a modular campus residency and the remainder via distance learning over the Internet.

McMinn and Moon pose the questions in this article, drawing on teaching tasks and strategies developed in response to Moon's (1997) four directions for integration: practical, personal, classic, and contemporary. Practical integration involves identifying clinical applications related to integrative themes. Personal integration refers to the spiritual and character formation of the therapist. Classic integration requires us to look back and see the rich historical resources available in the history of Christian thought. Contemporary integration calls professionals to function within the ethical and scientific framework of today's mental health professions McMinn et al. (2009) describe teaching strategies for each of these four approaches to integration .Among others, these teaching strategies include talking to the integrators (practical integration), practice of spiritual disciplines (personal integration), experiential exercises across traditions (classic integration), and collaboration with other professionals (contemporary integration). The first three of the four questions posed in this article roughly correspond with teaching strategies described by McMinn et al. (2009). The fourth question is not so much about teaching as about collaboration between students and faculty. Dominguez will respond to the questions posed by McMinn and Moon, reflecting on ways that integration training can and does occur in a hybrid learning context.

QUESTIONS AND RESPONSES

Question #1--Practical Integration (McMinn)

In the traditional classroom setting where I teach, students often ask questions about practical integration, such as, "When should I pray with a client?" These are difficult questions, of course, and rather than providing a single answer, I try to expose students to a variety of different perspectives. This can be done by assigning readings by authors of diverse opinions and by inviting those authors to participate in a conference call with the class. Over the years I have found these classroom conversations with leading integrationists to be a compelling and fascinating experience for students. …

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