Religious beliefs, knowledge, and teaching actions: Elementary teacher candidates and world religions

Journal Title/Source

Religion and Education

Publication Date




Issue (if applicable)


Page Numbers


Document Type

Journal Article


School of Education, Leadership, and Public Service


The purpose of this mixed methods study was to investigate the relationship between 22 elementary pre-service teachers' (PSTs) personal beliefs and knowledge of world religions and their teaching of world religions during a field experience. Quantitative data sources included the 32-question version of the PEW Research Center's U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey and the Santa Clara Strength of Religious Faith Questionnaire, both taken by the PSTs at the beginning and at the end of the course. Qualitative data sources included pre- and post-lesson interview transcripts, lesson observations, and PST lesson plans and reflection journals. The PSTs were predominantly Christian (73%) and intended to, but did not succeed at, teaching in an unbiased manner. None of the PSTs altered their religiosity throughout the semester, though the PSTs' knowledge of world religions increased significantly (67% to 71%). Providing PSTs with authentic field experiences to teach world religions appears to increase their content knowledge without impacting their personal religious beliefs. Knowledge of world's religions is crucial for quality social studies teaching, as teachers with high self-efficacy tend to be more effective.

This document is currently not available here.