We reap what we sew: perpetuating biblical illiteracy in new English religious studies exams and the proof text binary question

Journal article


Bowie, B. and Coles, R. 2018. We reap what we sew: perpetuating biblical illiteracy in new English religious studies exams and the proof text binary question. British Journal of Religious Education. 40 (3), pp. 277-287.
AuthorsBowie, B. and Coles, R.
Abstract

This article draws on three sources of evidence that together indicate hermeneutical weaknesses in exam courses on Christianity in English Religious Education (RE). It scrutinizes a single exam paper and an associated text book from a recent authorized course. It conceptually explores features of a new style of long Religious Studies (RS) exam question that is commonly set for the majority of students studying for a RS qualification at 15-16 years old. It combines these documentary sources with a focus group interview of teachers in the first year of teaching the new GCSE Religious Studies.

The findings from the document analysis, conceptual analysis and focus group interview, together concur that there is a problem related to the use of fragmentary texts and the promotion of a particularly propositional conception of religion. These features are structured in by systemic elements. A small proportion of students follow text-based GCSE routes include a more detailed study of Biblical texts but the majority of 15-16-year-old students do not and so are exposed to this problem. These weaknesses could be ‘designed out’ of exams with smarter questions and mitigated against by curriculum content that specified the study of how texts are interpreted, as well as teacher expertise in the teaching and practice of hermeneutics.

KeywordsBible; Christianity; hermeneutics; exams; proof-text; binary questions
Year2018
JournalBritish Journal of Religious Education
Journal citation40 (3), pp. 277-287
PublisherTaylor & Francis
ISSN0141-6200
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1080/01416200.2018.1493270
Publication dates
Online20 Jul 2018
Publication process dates
Deposited27 Jun 2018
Accepted25 Jun 2018
Accepted author manuscript
Output statusPublished
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