We reap what we sew: perpetuating biblical illiteracy in new English religious studies exams and the proof text binary question

Bowie, R. and Coles, R. (2018) We reap what we sew: perpetuating biblical illiteracy in new English religious studies exams and the proof text binary question. British Journal of Religious Education, 40 (3). pp. 277-287. ISSN 0141-6200.

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This article draws on three sources of evidence that together indicate hermeneutical weaknesses in exam courses on Christianity in English Religious Education (RE). It scrutinizes a single exam paper and an associated text book from a recent authorized course. It conceptually explores features of a new style of long Religious Studies (RS) exam question that is commonly set for the majority of students studying for a RS qualification at 15-16 years old. It combines these documentary sources with a focus group interview of teachers in the first year of teaching the new GCSE Religious Studies.

The findings from the document analysis, conceptual analysis and focus group interview, together concur that there is a problem related to the use of fragmentary texts and the promotion of a particularly propositional conception of religion. These features are structured in by systemic elements. A small proportion of students follow text-based GCSE routes include a more detailed study of Biblical texts but the majority of 15-16-year-old students do not and so are exposed to this problem. These weaknesses could be ‘designed out’ of exams with smarter questions and mitigated against by curriculum content that specified the study of how texts are interpreted, as well as teacher expertise in the teaching and practice of hermeneutics.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Bible; Christianity; hermeneutics; exams; proof-text; binary questions
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BV Practical Theology > BV0590 Ecclesiastical theology > BV1460 Religious education (General)
L Education
L Education > LC Special aspects of education > LC0251 Moral and religious education
Divisions: Faculty of Education > National Institute for Christian Education Research
Depositing User: Dr Bob Bowie
Date Deposited: 27 Jun 2018 09:55
Last Modified: 07 Feb 2019 16:17
URI: https://create.canterbury.ac.uk/id/eprint/17408

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00