The Effects of Secular and Sacred Education: a Study

4543531008_f594221c3c_oOne of the distinguishing factors of a BYU education is the integration of spirituality into the secular subjects.  While the combination of a formal education with religion is sometimes viewed as controversial and ineffective in the public education arena, a recent BYU study suggests that, at least in a private university setting, it can have a synergistic effect.

Matt Hiatt, a graduate student in the applied social psychology program, has been studying how incorporating spirituality into teaching affects the learning process.

For his dissertation study, two professors from different departments were trained on how to implement spirituality when teaching in their discipline.  Then, following the  professors’ application of these skills in a classroom setting, their students were asked to measure their experience with the teaching method.

Reflecting on the study’s findings, Hiatt explains, “We found that students perceived their professors as being higher in teaching quality and general teaching skills when they implemented these aspects of spiritual than when they did not…Even implementing it rather minimally paid big dividends for [the professors] as they received considerably higher ratings from the students.”

Many students who experience this type of teaching find it very effective and claim it to be one of the main selling points for attending Brigham Young University. These findings are congruent with BYU’s Mission Statement, which states:

“The mission of Brigham Young University is to assist individuals in their quest for perfection and eternal life.  That assistance should provide a period of intensive learning in a stimulating setting where a commitment to excellence is expected and the full realization of human potential is pursued…Any education is inadequate which does not emphasize that [Jesus Christ] is the only name given under heaven whereby mankind can be saved.”

Knowing how integrating spirituality and secular knowledge in the classroom can help professors teach students more effectively.  Hiatt says, “I hope to take this learning and research with me to the future and implement it to help students wherever I go as a teacher.”


Pictures courtesy of Flickr.



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