Academic journal article Journal of Psychology and Theology

Integration of Christianity in Research and Statistics Courses

Academic journal article Journal of Psychology and Theology

Integration of Christianity in Research and Statistics Courses

Article excerpt

Teaching pedagogy and praxis on the integration of research skills with Christianity are introduced with practical classroom strategies. The authors discuss the purpose of Christian integration in statistics and research design courses as a spiritual and scientific endeavor. They discuss how they address students' attitudes towards research with respect for their faith and cultural traditions. The development of research skills and personal virtue character development are a third theme.

When discussing Christian integration with psychology, we have often overheard our peers say, "Integration is essential for training in psychology, but we know that in statistics and research, you can't really do it." As professors teaching statistics (Ripley) and research design (Dwiwardani) to doctoral students in Clinical Psychology we would argue that this is minimizing what is possible. We posit that Statistics and Research courses are an ideal place for Christian integration in terms of-course material and character development. Statistics and research design courses allow us to think differently about Christian integration. We want to give credit to the work of Paul Poelstra (2009), who taught statistics at Biola for almost forty years to hundreds of students, and Everett Worthington, Jr (2010), a thoughtful faculty member at Virginia Commonwealth University addressing the relationship between faith and the science of psychology.

Poehtra's (2009) article on faith-praxis for research courses is the only previous published article specific to these course-types, despite them being required at practically all undergraduate and graduate Christian colleges. Worthington's research-focused book (2010) on integration is unique because most writing on integration is focused on theoretical integration. In this article we are going to "peel back the lid" of how we do integration in statistics and research design courses. We want to offer ideas of things we do in the classroom, and the way we think about our Christian integrative work. We hope to offer some practical tips and ideas for our fellow teaching and researching professors. We address three issues for integration in these courses:

(1) Why integrate faith and learning in research?

(2) Addressing attitudes towards research.

(3) Research as a character-building opportunity.

Why Integrate Faith and Learning in Research?

The integration of faith and learning in research begins with the question of why: from a biblical perspective, why does it matter that one learns about research? Our students often start class with this question. We address it by highlighting general revelation and special revelation as sources of truth. To highlight this principle, one of the verses I (Dwiwardani) present at the beginning of the semester in research design is Psalm 19:1-4, as follows:

1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.

3 They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.

4 Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.

Upon presenting this passage in class, I facilitate a class discussion on general revelation as a legitimate source of knowing God. I propose to the class that one answer to the question of "why research design matters" is that it provides us opportunities to come into a deeper worship of our God. As we wrestle with the revelation of knowledge in research, we learn more about the Creator much like we may learn about Rembrandt from his artwork. This passage invites us to engage with research from a place where we allow ourselves to be surprised by our findings and to be moved and awed by the greatness of our God. Just like we may find ourselves exclaiming in worship and awe as we encounter the greatness of God at the Grand Canyon, one may also find that we are moved by the greatness of God in the scientific discovery process. …

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