Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Education Honours


Faculty of Education

First Advisor

Dr Noel Kentish

Second Advisor

Dr Amanda Blackmore


This study examined differences in understanding of Christian values between two groups of children experiencing two different learning approaches in religious education in the Catholic primary school. One learning approach used the arts as strategy. In it children expressed themselves discursively through worksheet activities: colouring in pre-designed pictures and completing written sentences, paragraphs or crossword puzzles. The other approach was learning through the arts as process. In this approach children expressed themselves non-discursively through their creative products: paintings, play dough modelling and construction scenarios. Each group comprised 30 subjects who were in Year 5, and whose ages ranged from 9 to 10 years. The groups were divided into subgroups of 15 subjects. Subjects came from two schools and each school produced two types of sub-groups, an arts as strategy sub-group and an arts as process sub-group. All sub-groups were read the same eight stories about Jesus and carried out their respective tasks: subjects of the arts as strategy sub-groups completed the same worksheet on each story, while subjects in the arts as process sub-groups explored the meaning of each story through an art form. Stories were designated a specific art activity beforehand: painting, modelling or construction. Subjects were questioned about their work from a standardised questioning format for each group. The responses were audio taped and became the qualitative data in the study. Quantitative data were the responses to the pre-tests and post-tests, administered orally to each subject before and after treatment. The pre-test and post-test instrument was the same but the tests were marked differently. That is, the tests covered subjects' perceptions of Jesus’ values, how he showed what they were and why he thought they were important; and only values and specific actions of Jesus contained in the eight stories were accepted at post-test. Verbal protocols in each response were analysed and allocated to the categories of characteristics, values, actions of Jesus, and other, in accordance with the Evaluation Procedures in Appendix B. Quantitative results showed that both groups improved significantly over the treatment period. Subjects of the arts as strategy group showed a significant improvement in their understanding of Christian values between pre-test (M = 4.172) and post-test (M = 5.172), t(28) = 4.20, p < .001. Subjects of the arts as process group also showed a significant improvement in their understanding between pre-test ( M = 4.033) and post-test (M = 5.433), t(29) = 4.58, p = < .001. But a comparison of the two groups showed that they did not differ significantly at post-test, F( 1,56) = 1.04, p > .05. Therefore, although both groups improved significantly, it was found that the difference in learning approach did not generate a significant difference between the children's level of understanding of Christian values at post-test. However, an evaluation of qualitative data suggested that the difference in learning approach produced a qualitative difference in children's responses. From a comparison of qualitative data, a conclusion was drawn that the arts as process group showed a wider range of perceptions of Christian values inherent in the stories, than did the arts as strategy group