Adult Education in the Church: An Analysis of Student Perceptions of Classroom Environment

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Institution Granting Degree

Marquette University

Cedarville University School or Department

Biblical and Theological Studies

First Advisor

Erika Bogenschild


Education, Christian


The purpose of this study is to analyze the perceptions of adult classes in churches regarding their environment. This data provides an objective basis for evaluation and change in the educational programs of the church. The term "environment", in addition to the physical setting, includes areas such as relationships between teacher and students, relationships between the students, and roles fulfilled by both teacher and class members. The students' perceptions of these factors are important because they influence behavior, such as frequency of attendance and learning achievement. The desired result is progress toward creating a learning environment which will enhance effective communication, and encourage positive relational dimensions. This is encouraged when the class environment is modified to more closely approximate that of the preferred learning environment.

The research utilized an instrument of 118 items, for which each student responded on a 5-point Likert scale. Items were grouped into fourteen categories identified as dimension variables. Three different forms of the survey were used. The Actual Form assessed perceptions of the classroom currently being experienced. The Ideal Form identified the students' perceptions of a preferred classroom environment. These two responses were compared to see if statistically significant differences exist between the perceptions of the class of which they are a part and the environment anticipated in an Ideal setting. The Teacher's Form served as a reference point for the teacher in discussion of the information gathered.

Findings indicated that there was a difference between the preferred and perceived actual environment of adult classes in these churches. Twenty of twenty-three classes studied identified statistically significant differences for at least one of the dimension variables, and eight or more dimension variables were identified as significantly different from the preferred environment in eight of the classes. The reporting of this information to the pastors, superintendents and teachers of the classes provided data to initiate and fuel the assessment of individual classes, and guide intentional modification of the classroom environment.