Deutsch Intern
    Chair of Religious Education

    Teacher professionalism and professionalization in religious education

    Teacher professionalism and professionalization in religious education

    An empirical-theological study on the correlative modes of inference teachers use in classroom interaction and the consequences for teacher education at university


    Dr. Stefan Heil, Prof. Dr. Hans-Georg Ziebertz.


    The starting point of the study is the change of religion in modern society which can be observed on the macro-, meso- and micro- levels. Especially on the micro level new religious styles emerge, for students in a plural culture transfer Christian semantics into their individual religious codes and create - often unconsciously - new religious semantics. Based on this observation it becomes a pressing problem for teachers in religious education lessons how to correlate unexpected verbal signs pupils use to express their religious semantics with traditional theological semantics from their professional repertoire. The study therefore investigates the structural modes of inference (abduction, deduction, induction) teachers use to cope with apparent new religious contributions and searches for the pragmatic conditions which determine this speech-play. This allows exemplary answers to be presented to the question, how professional practitioners solve unique cases in non-standardized practical situations.


    How do teachers structurally correlate students´ new religious semantics with traditional theological semantics from their repertoire in the classroom interaction? What are the latent conditions in schools which determine the modes of inference? What are the professional structures included in the correlative inferences?


    The empirical research on classroom interaction as the centre of professional action provides an empirically “grounded” theory of the centre of professional teacher action. Especially the abductive mode helps to conceptualize two pressing problems in religious education and theory of professional action: On the one hand the correlation problem how to bring together new religious semantics and Christian tradition, on the other hand the professional problem how to solve a unique case with the existing professional repertoire. The results of the research deliver guidelines for teacher professionalization at university.


    Hermeneutical and qualitative empirical research.
    Data-collection: participation observation of 32 religious education lessons and stimulated recall with the teachers; data-transcription; data-analysis: grounded theory and sequence analysis.


    The project is sponsored by the University of Würzburg (research award).

    Key publications

    Heil, Stefan (2004), Empirical Research on Religious Education in the German-speaking world - Status and Development, in: Larsson, Rune/Gustavsson, Caroline (eds.), Towards a European Perspective on Religous Education, Författarna, 127-144.
    Heil, Stefan/Ziebertz, Hans-Georg (2004), Teacher Professionalism in Religious Education, in: Journal of Empirical Theology 17,2, 217-237
    Heil, Stefan/Faust-Siehl, Gabriele, Universitäre Lehrerausbildung und pädagogische Professionalität im Spiegel von Lehrenden. Eine qualitative empirische Untersuchung, Weinheim 2000 (Beltz).
    Ziebertz, Hans-Georg/Heil, Stefan/Prokopf, Andreas (eds.), Abduktive Korrelation. Religionspädagogische Konzeption, Methodologie und Professionalität im interdisziplinären Dialog, Münster 2003 (LIT).