Biblical literacy in a secular world: Secondary students’ perceptions of the influence of Biblical practices on academic achievement.
Evans, Ashlei Nicole
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Purpose The purpose of this journal-ready dissertation was to examine middle and high school students’ perceptions of the relationship between their Biblical literacy practices and academic performance (i.e. grades, test scores, reading ability) and academic success (i.e. attendance, behavior, motivation, goals, decision-making) according to gender, ethnicity, and participation in religiously affiliated activities. More specifically, the first purpose was to examine student perceptions of the relationship between Biblical literacy practices and academic performance (i.e. grades, test scores, reading ability), as well as overall academic success (i.e. attendance, behavior, motivation, goals, decision-making) among boys and girls in Grades 7-12. A second purpose was to investigate student perceptions of the relationship between Biblical literacy practices and academic performance (i.e. grades, test scores, reading ability), as well as overall academic success (i.e. attendance, behavior, motivation, goals, decision-making) among five ethnic/racial groups (i.e., Asian, Black, Hispanic, White, and more than one ethnicity) of students in Grades 7-12. The third purpose was to explore students’ perceptions of the impact the Bible has on their lives. Finally, a fourth purpose was to analyze student perceptions of the relationship between participation in religious affiliated out-of-school activities and academic success, as well as decision-making among students in Grades 7-12. Method A correlational research design was used to conduct this quantitative study. Cross sectional survey research was conducted to collect data regarding the participants’ demographics (e.g. gender and ethnicity), perceptions, Biblical literacy practices, and participation in religiously affiliated out-of-school activities. Chi-square tests were run using SPSS to determine Biblical literacy practices, academic performance, and academic success as a function of gender, ethnicity, and participation in religiously affiliated activities. Findings Regarding gender, the findings reveal a greater number of girls engage in reading the Bible and participate in religiously affiliated activities in-and-outside of school than boys. More girls indicated they perceive reading the Bible is beneficial to academic performance and academic success more than boys. As it pertains to ethnicity, a statistically significant higher percentage of Black students noted the importance of reading the Bible and its impact on their behavior than other ethnic groups. Asian students had statistically significantly lower percentages when referring to whether the Bible increases their reading ability, its impact on their motivation to succeed, and how they make decisions. In relation to participation in religiously affiliated out- of-school activities and the impact on their personal lives and relationships, there were no statistically significant differences between the grade levels and gender; however, a statistically significant difference was indicated among Black, White, and Hispanic students. Findings with regard to gender are similar to previous research wherein girls are more engaged in reading and perform higher in reading achievement than boys. However, the findings regarding ethnicity varied. A consistent finding among boys and girls, as well as all ethnic groups was their perception that reading the Bible improves their reading ability. Research conducted reveals that students believe their Biblical literacy practices significantly influences their reading ability, behavior, motivation, decision-making, and personal life.