Research in Faith Integration
Sophia Mun & Russ Bermejo
This is my second year at CBU. The thing that I love most working at CBU is that I am able to do faith integration in classrooms. One day in my first year, I got curious if I could measure the effectiveness of the faith integration I was doing in my classrooms. This led Professor Bermejo and I to start a small research project. In this blog, we would like to briefly share the process of this research and what we have found so far.
Identify the General Study Idea
The integration of faith and learning is a key feature of Christian higher education. Faculty members in Christian institutions are encouraged to foster integration between students’ understanding of subjects and their faith. At CBU, professors integrate the “Core 4” outcomes in their course instruction so students are (1) academically prepared, (2) Biblically rooted, (3) globally minded, and (4) equipped to serve. Our shared vision of being “unapologetically Christian and academic rigorous” is challenging and inspiring. But how can we assess the effectiveness of faith integration in our classrooms?
Choose the Research Topic
First of all, we wanted to see whether our faith integration work in classrooms has an impact on the extent to which students work to integrate their faith with their discipline/class. Second, we also wanted to identify the factors contributing to student faith integration. The purpose of this project was to determine whether and how taking a class in a Christian institution predicts changes in students’ faith integration. Research questions of this project were “Is there any changes in the degree to which students engage in faith integration at the beginning and the end of semester?” And “What factors promote changes?”
Formulate Plan and Methodology
Professor Bermejo and I created an online survey to measure basic demographic information and student faith integration. Student faith integration was measured at Time 1 (beginning of semester) and Time 2 (end of semester) using the Psychology and Faith Integration (Psy-FI) Scale (Collison et al., 2019). The scale contains 27 items (e.g., “I often think about how psychology and my faith relate to each other.”) with response options ranging from 1 (Disagree strongly) to 6 (Agree Strongly). Changes in student faith integration were calculated by subtracting student faith integration Time 1 from Time 2. Other variables were also included as possible contributing factors: school year, the course they were taking (BEH or PSY), experience of taking psychology classes, instructor (Professor B. or M.), and spirituality (Instructor & Self).
The data was collected in 6 classrooms (PSY & BEH courses) in 2020 fall semester. Longitudinal data was collected from a sample of 161 students (students took the same survey twice at the beginning and the end of semester). The survey was distributed and data was collected via Qualtrics.
Analyze Data & Present Findings
We conducted a hierarchical multiple regression analysis to explore contributing factors in changes in student faith integration. Three significant predictors were found: student spirituality, experience of taking psychology classes, and students’ prior faith integration (Time 1, beginning of semester). Regarding experience of taking psychology classes, we found that students who had not taken a psychology class before showed increases in the degree to which student engage in their faith integration. In addition, students with low faith integration at Time 1 reported increases in faith integration at the end of the semester. Overall, our results demonstrate that faith integration in our classrooms was promoted especially for students with lack of exposure to faith integration in lower-level courses and students with low prior faith integration.
Summary & Discussion
Our results show effects of faith integration in classrooms vary depending on students’ experiences and existing levels of faith integration. In summary, we found that faith integration in classrooms may not benefit all students in the degree to which student engage in faith integration. It should be attuned to differences among students in their experience and their prior level of faith integration (e.g., applying different approaches of faith integration to lower level and upper-level classes).
Collison, B., Eck, B. E., Edwards, J. M., & Allen, E. C. (2019). The Psy-FI Scale: A Measure of Psychology and Faith Integration. Journal of Psychology and Christianity, 38(2), 67–80.
I was thoroughly impressed with the premise of the post while also strongly agreeing with the final conclusion you guys came up with after conducting the research. Despite the fact that CBU is a school that is meant to develop students of faith with faith, there is also a considerable number of students who do not identify themselves as people of faith. Like how the chapel services at CBU are a mandatory faith-developing component of the academic experience with only the negative reinforcement being utilized upon not being able to participate in the sessions the right number of times, the concept of faith integration may also feel very similar to many students. Of the dozens of non-religious students that I have engaged throughout my time at CBU in regard to facing the issue of faith-integrated assignments, all but two students have answered that they felt heavily pressured to lie about their true conviction and falsely claim that they had faith in God. A large part of the reason that creates this phenomenon may include the fact that faith integration questions have always been asked with only one perspective-integrated method to engage the assignment while failing to suggest an alternative course of action for students who do not identify with the Christian faith to do the same. For example, one faith integration grading component would instruct the students to complete the assignment through the following statement: “Reflect on the prior sections through the lens of the Christian worldview. If a person experiences consequences from brain damage, how might that impact their understanding of or expression of faith?” While it is easy to assume that the overwhelming majority of the students at CBU identify with the Christian faith and will not experience any issue answering the same question, this particular question fails to effectively enhance the learning experience of the students who do not identify with the Christian faith by then, making them lie within their own assignments while significantly decreasing the quality of their work by integrating ideas that are not true in nature.