Discerning Disciples: A Mixed Methods Study on Attitudes Toward and Practices of Evaluation Among Lay Catechetical Leaders
Date of Award
Catechetics--Catholic Church; Leadership--Religious aspects--Christianity; Catholic Church--Catechisms--Evaluation
Despite the work of catechetical leaders to help fellow Catholics deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ, the Catholic Church in the US continues to lose members at an alarming rate. In other educational and professional settings, practices of assessment and evaluation have been employed to determine whether and how their missions are achieved. The literature reveals that there is very little research on evaluative practices and attitudes among professional catechetical leaders and suggests that there is a great lack of evaluation in the field of catechesis and religious education in the US. This study utilized an explanatory sequential mixed methods design to learn about the attitudes and practices of evaluation among catechetical leaders. The research questions were: (1) What are the attitudes of catechetical leaders toward evaluation of adult volunteers’ discipleship status?, (2) What methods, formal and informal, do catechetical leaders report to use in evaluating discipleship?, and (3) Is there a relationship between attitudes toward evaluation among catechetical leaders and their reported practice of evaluation for discipleship? The study featured two phases, a quantitative phase, facilitated by a researcher-designed survey, and a iv qualitative phase, comprised of two focus groups of catechetical leaders. Survey participants (N = 61) were professional lay catechetical leaders in parishes from across a state in the Pacific Northwest. Focus group participants (N = 7) were volunteers who had taken the survey. Attitudes toward evaluation among survey participants were generally positive, with 90.2% of participants agreeing or strongly agreeing that is helpful to discern whether volunteers are disciples. However, focus group participants expressed ambivalent attitudes. The survey also revealed that participants practiced evaluation of their volunteers’ discipleship frequently, with 86.3% reporting that they do so either almost always or more than half the time. Focus group participants showed a preference for practicing informal and incidental methods of evaluation. Survey results also revealed a correlation coefficient of ρ = .47 (p < .001) between attitudes toward evaluation and practices of evaluation. The study concludes by recommending: (a) increased training on active, intentional evaluation in formation of catechetical leaders, (b) the creation and promotion of simple, easy-to-use tools for intentional evaluation, (c) increased use of regular performance evaluation of professional catechetical leaders by their supervisors, (d) an increase in opportunities for collaboration across diocesan lines, and (e) a renewed emphasis on the discipleship formation of adult volunteers.
Paz, Anthony Dallas, "Discerning Disciples: A Mixed Methods Study on Attitudes Toward and Practices of Evaluation Among Lay Catechetical Leaders" (2018). Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 36.
Copyright for this work is retained by the author.