A study of a staff development program for Catholic elementary school lay teachers

Lucy DiPaola, Fordham University

Abstract

The main purpose of this study was to evaluate the degree to which a staff development program in the area of religious education was successful in achieving its three fold purpose: (a) to provide the opportunity for teachers to deepen personal spirituality; (b) to increase the theological knowledge out of which one teaches; and (c) to expand and improve skills in the teaching of religion. The evaluation of the effectiveness of the program in achieving its goals was based on the perceptions of Catholic elementary school lay teachers who were in the process of completing the first 2 years of program requirements. The theoretical rationale for this study was based on two areas: (a) effective staff development programs that are generally designed and best suited for the teacher as an adult learner; and (b) staff development programs that are designed in the area of religious education and best suited for the individual needs of the teacher.^ Survey research methodology for the purposes of evaluation was used to conduct this study. In this study a questionnaire and an indepth interview were used to survey lay teachers' perceptions of the program. Two hundred seventy-seven teachers from 42 Catholic elementary schools responded to a 51 item questionnaire; 13 out of the 277 participated in an interview. The interviews were semi-structured using 23 questions that were open-ended in nature.^ The following conclusions can be based on the findings: (1) Staff development programs need to be designed according to the backgrounds, experiences and needs of the participants. (2) Teachers as adult learners are autonomous in nature and will have a tendency to resist staff development programs that are mandated rather than those that give them the freedom of choice. (3) Teachers who are engaged in staff development activities need to have the support and guidance from local school principals and/or coaches; teachers need to have ongoing feedback and opportunity to practice any new ideas. (4) Staff development programs designed for Catholic school teachers in the area of religious education need to focus more on the contemporary concerns that the laity have in relation to their individual daily lived experiences and levels of faith development. (5) Catholic school lay teachers have a strong sense of mission and dedication to the ideals of Catholic education and see themselves as very important in carrying out the mission of the Catholic Church. ^

Subject Area

Educational administration|Adult education|Religious education

Recommended Citation

DiPaola, Lucy, "A study of a staff development program for Catholic elementary school lay teachers" (1990). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9109230.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI9109230

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