Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Education


Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Dr Andrew Taggart


The primary purpose of this study was to investigate the perceptions of 1st and 2nd year university students of their years eleven and twelve religious education classes at a Catholic school. A secondary purpose was to understand students’ acceptance or non-acceptance of official Catholic Church doctrine/dogma and why. Four research questions were asked to direct the study. 1. Are Catholic schools in Western Australia carrying out the mandate for their existence, that is, the Catholic education of their students? 2. Did students perceive their religious education classes as aiding their religious development? 3. Are students accepting or rejecting important doctrinal teachings of the Catholic Church? If so, why is this the case? 4. How do students perceive their lived experience and the Catholic Church's teaching on morality? Catholic students who had spent their senior years (11 and 12) at a Catholic school, who had studied religious education and who are now 1st and 2nd year students in the School of Education at Edith Cowan University constituted the participants for this study. The study centred upon descriptive research using the interpretative paradigm with a variety of methods to build upon the descriptive approach. With the collection of data, there were two stages. Stage one of the study used the quantitative method of research, the questionnaire, which consisted of six constructs and 75 items administered to 133 1st and 2nd year university students. The analysis of the questionnaire allowed the researcher to prepare for stage two, the interview stage (qualitative research). This stage involved one-to-one interviews. The questions for the interview stage were developed from the analysis of the questionnaire data. To enhance the validity and reliability of the study triangulation of the data was undertaken

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