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Common Course Assignments: Example


The example annotation below includes the citation, a summary in the first paragraph, the critique/analysis in the second paragraph, and the application in the third paragraph.

Gathman, A. C., & Nessan, C. L. (1997). Fowler's stages of faith development in an honors science-and-religion seminar. Zygon, 32(3), 407–414. Retrieved from

The authors described the construction and rationale of an honors course in science and religion that was pedagogically based on Lawson's learning cycle model. In Lawson's model, the student writes a short paper on a subject before a presentation of the material and then writes a longer paper reevaluating and supporting his or her views. Using content analysis, the authors compared the students' answers in the first and second essays, evaluating them based on Fowler's stages of development. The authors presented examples of student writing with their analysis of the students' faith stages. The results demonstrated development in stages 2 through 5.

The authors made no mention of how to support spiritual development in the course. There was no correlation between grades and level of faith development. Instead, they were interested in the interface between religion and science, teaching material on ways of knowing, creation myths, evolutionary theory, and ethics. They exposed students to Fowler's ideas but did not relate the faith development theory to student work in the classroom. There appears to have been no effort to modify the course content based on the predominant stage of development, and it is probably a credit to their teaching that they were able to conduct the course with such diversity in student faith development. However, since Fowler's work is based largely within a Western Christian setting, some attention to differences in faith among class members would have been a useful addition to the study. 

Fowler's work would seem to lend itself to research of this sort, but this model is the only example found in recent literature. This study demonstrates the best use of the model, which is assessment. While the theory claimed high predictive ability, the change process that the authors chronicled is so slow and idiosyncratic that it would be difficult to design and implement research that had as its goal measurement of movement in a faith development continuum.