The Catholic University of America

Max T. Engel Defense

Final Examination of

Max T. Engel

for the degree of

Doctor of Philosophy

Monday, April 15, 2013

12:30p.m., Caldwell Room 125




An Analysis of Catholic High School Religion Textbooks Based on Identified Methods for Catechesis and Taxonomies for Cognitive and Affective Learning


Director: John J. Convey, Ph.D.


In 2007 the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops published Doctrinal Elements of a Curriculum Framework for the Development of Catechetical Materials for Young People of High School Age (Framework), which outlined requisite doctrinal material for the textbooks in all Catholic high school religion courses. While texts are evaluated by the USCCB for their conformity with the outlined content for each course, publishers have latitude to develop instructional approaches for catechesis. This study examined the extent to which eight chapters of five current high school religion textbooks incorporate normative methodologies for catechesis and utilize recognized strategies for cognitive and affective learning.


Nine criteria for catechetical methodology were synthesized from the National Directory for Catechesis (NDC). Bloom’s cognitive taxonomy was used to classify cognitive learning anticipated in each chapter’s objectives, questions, activities, and test. Finally, a modified version of Krathwohl’s affective taxonomy identified the extent to which these chapters invited students to demonstrate affective learning of the material. The author and two additional professionals working in catechetical education used the procedure independently to analyze the same selected chapters to establish the reliability of the results.


The chapters varied considerably in how thoroughly they incorporated the USCCB’s elements of methodology for catechesis. Overall, fewer than half of the catechetical methodologies applicable to a high school religion course were incorporated into every chapter and one-third of the methodologies were completely omitted from five of the chapters. Inclusion rates for inductive and deductive methodology were particularly noteworthy because their emphasis ranged among the chapters: half of the chapters balance their inclusion rates for deductive and inductive methodologies, while the other four chapters primarily rely on deductive methodology.  The results showed an emphasis on lower-order cognitive learning and missed opportunities to invite students’ affective learning. Additionally, the complexity of cognitive learning expected from students and the frequency of invitations to demonstrate affective learning differ significantly among the chapters, even though they cover the same doctrinal topics. The findings suggest that publishers pay more attention to more fully incorporate the USCCB’s principles for catechetical methodology and a variety of pedagogies for affective and cognitive learning into high school religion textbooks.