Original Research

Teacher training for religious education: Engaging academics through the Dialogical Self Theory

Cok Bakker, Ina ter Avest
Transformation in Higher Education | Vol 4 | a50 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/the.v4i0.50 | © 2019 Ina ter Avest, Cok Bakker | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 11 June 2018 | Published: 28 March 2019

About the author(s)

Cok Bakker, Research Group Normative Professionalisation in Higher Education, Utrecht University of Applied Sciences, Utrecht, the Netherlands
Ina ter Avest, Faculty of Behavioral and Movement Sciences, Vrije University, Amsterdam, the Netherlands; and, Research group ‘Philosophy of Life and/in Education’, Inholland University of Applied Sciences, Amstelveen, the Netherlands

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Background: In the Netherlands, most of the academic curricula for teacher training in religious education (RE) focus on shortfalls of students, like a lack of knowledge about the plurality of worldviews and the diversity in interpretations of the Christian tradition.

In our research project, the focus is not on the students, but on the university professors and lecturers who teach the subject of RE: professors and lecturers who train and educate students to teach RE.

Aim: The main aim of the project was to gain a better insight into the inherent complexity of the professionalism of academics, that is, their own positionality in the plurality of the Roman Catholic traditions they adhere to in relation to their capabilities and commitment to the current curriculum – the ‘old’ one – and the new curriculum to be developed, in the context of the Dutch plural society.

Setting: Respondents in this research were university professors and lecturers of the Teacher Training Institute of Tilburg University, located at Utrecht, the Netherlands.

Methods: For this investigation, we used a research instrument based on the dialogical self theory and its self confrontation method for organisations to gain insight into professionals’ own and their colleagues’ positionality regarding teaching RE.

Results: Preliminary results show that the self confrontation method for organisations has shown itself to be a challenging instrument to invite academics involved in the process of data construction and data analysis.

Conclusion: Based on these results, we recommend to include the research population in a validation process to increase the sustainability of the results and to maximise engagement in the implementation phase of the new curriculum.


religious education; teacher training; academics’ positionality; normative professionalism; Dialogical Self Theory; Valuation Theory


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