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Understanding obstacles to developing and implementing pedagogy and the Teaching Emphasis among daily volunteer seminary teachers in the Church Educational System

Doyle Michael Smith, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS or Mormon) has a religious education program (seminary), providing high school youth with daily religious education. In densely populated LDS areas, students may participate in a non-credit seminary class in a building adjacent to the high school, wherein the majority of the classes are taught by paid professional seminary teachers. In sparsely populated LDS areas students may attend a daily seminary class or a once-weekly home study class taught by volunteers called to teach. Approximately 20,000 volunteers currently teach about 85,000 U.S. daily seminary students. It is estimated that there is an annual turnover rate between 25 and 40 percent of these volunteer teachers. The primary issue facing the Church Educational System (CES), especially in the Seminaries and Institutes of Religion (S&I), is to assess the significant obstacles these volunteers face and how these obstacles can best be addressed through utilizing the Teaching Emphasis (TE) and pedagogical practice in training by the full-time coordinators in CES. The TE was developed in 2003 and was designed to increase student participation, understanding, and application of key doctrinal concepts, along with encouraging pedagogical practice in classroom instruction. Coordinators are responsible for training volunteers according to this TE program and must train volunteers by helping them implement principles of the TE and pedagogical practice as they teach. This study has been designed to determine how respondent's (coordinators and volunteers) views on the difficulties associated with implementing the TE and utilizing pedagogical practice in the classroom provide helpful insights for training and improving classroom experiences.^ Survey responses were evaluated through comparative analysis to determine if coordinator's current training methods utilized modeling and practicing skills, what impact this training had, and what aspects of the TE are the most difficult to overcome. Major findings revealed that time, understanding and implementing pedagogy and the TE, and doctrinal knowledge, are the most significant issues facing volunteers. Recommendations considered developing and implementing pedagogical abilities and the TE by modeling during in-service meetings, improving volunteer-applicable DVD's, developing on-line training programs, and improving ecclesiastical leadership training considering obstacles volunteers encounter.^

Subject Area

Education, Religious|Education, Teacher Training|Education, Curriculum and Instruction

Recommended Citation

Smith, Doyle Michael, "Understanding obstacles to developing and implementing pedagogy and the Teaching Emphasis among daily volunteer seminary teachers in the Church Educational System" (2009). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3352852.