Key factors that engaged year 5/6 students in a religious education curriculum


Lacey, Adrian. (2016). Key factors that engaged year 5/6 students in a religious education curriculum [Thesis].
AuthorsLacey, Adrian
Qualification nameDoctor of Education (EdD)

The aim of this case study was to identify factors that influenced the engagement of year five and six students (aged 10-12) in a religious education (RE) curriculum. The disengagement of year five and six students was reflected in the results of an RE survey (Catholic Education Office, 2006). Whilst students regarded RE as important and wished to do academically well, they did not find RE lessons to be particularly interesting, challenging or enjoyable. This qualitative research used a case study methodology. In this research the case was six composite classes of upper primary school students (combined classes of year five / six) and their religious education teachers within the context of a particular Catholic primary school. A case study is consistent with the chosen theoretical perspective of symbolic interactionism and the constructionist epistemology underpinning this study. Using a constant comparative method, data from semi-structured and focus group interviews was drawn upon to explore the perceptions of student and teacher participants. Direct classroom observations were utilised to compare and contrast students’ and teachers’ perceptions. Six interrelated categories were found to be key factors for the engagement of this group of year five / six students in an RE curriculum: the teacher’s promotion of a mastery orientation; the teacher’s knowledge; a trusting classroom climate; positive teacher-student relationships; challenging tasks; and ICT-enabled learning. Three interrelated dimensions - affect, behaviour and cognition - constitute a prevalent view of engagement (Fredricks, Blumenfeld, & Paris, 2004). The findings arising from this study show how students were engaged in RE classroom learning across these three dimensions of engagement. As this is the first major research to explore student engagement in RE in an Australian Catholic primary school context, it makes a distinct contribution to the literature regarding student engagement in this particular curriculum area.

PublisherAustralian Catholic University
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Research GroupSchool of Religious Education
Final version
Publication dates01 Mar 2016
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