Universiteit Leiden

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PhD project

Key components of a didactical approach for encouraging religious identity development in Religious Education

This study investigates and analyses didactical approaches in theory and practice of both scholars and expert teachers in Religious Education/Life World Orientation (for secondary level) in their role as Identity Agents in order to discover and develop didactical key components contributing to religious identity. Next, the study will investigate how these 'key components' can be used in teacher training and professionalization programmes for teachers of Religious Education.

2011 - 2017


  • drs. Jeannette den Ouden - PhD candidate
  • prof.dr. J.H. van Driel (Melbourne Graduate School of Education, The University of Melbourne), prof.dr. C. Bakker and prof.dr. W.B. Drees - supervisors
  • dr.ir. F.J.J.M. Janssen - co-supervisor

Project description

Social relevance

It is hard for young people in our Western, postmodern, plural and secular society, with competing and contradicting rationalities of different groups, religions and other world views, to develop their own self-awareness and identity when it comes to their own world view.  At the same time it is becoming increasingly clear and  broadly recognized in the public debate -  especially since recent events across the world - that a better and deeper understanding about world views and beliefs is needed, since misunderstandings, negative stereotypes, and provocative images can lead to heightened antagonism and sometimes even violence.

Yet,  Religious Education (RE), as one of the subjects in schools that  does not immediately lead to economical benefits, is under pressure and students themselves seem to become more and more indifferent about questions concerning  (religious) world views. This raises the question how RE teachers in their role as Identy Agents and in this complicated context can contribute to the world view part of their identity formation .

Topic and research questions

The underlying  principle of the research method is the dialogue between educational research and practical  experience. The first study aims at initiating this dialogue, by investigating and describing the underlying mission, aims and didactical principles (called: the rationale) of researchers and RE/World view teachers. The main question of the second and third study is how teachers bring their didactical principles into practice  and which practical didactical key components can be derived from this.

In the fourth study a professionalization course, using  these key components, will be designed and executed by using the expertise of both teachers and scholars. In  this study the practical value of the key components in didactical approaches will then be evaluated.

Scientific relevance

There  is a large number of didactical and pedagogical approaches to religious education concerning  identity formation, but few of them are based on empirical data and even fewer are developed in dialogue with teachers. In this study a dialogical approach will be inmplemented, by using  complementary elements of didactical approaches that are based on theoretical knowledge of professional designers, together with approaches that arise from the practical knowledge and classroom experiences of RE teachers.

Foto: Geography Photos / Universal Images Group

This PhD research has relations with several projects of 'The Good Learning Project' of the Research Group Moral Dimension Of Teachers’ Professional Development (HU).

Research findings of the 4 monographs will lead to a dissertation. Research findings will also be presented at both national conferences (e.g. ORD) as well as  international conferences (e.g. ISREV, EARLI/SIG19).

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