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Theory Critique of Dr. James W. Fowler. Marian A. Ford EDHE 6520 Dr. Baier – Spring 2009. Biography of Fowler 1940-. Developmental psychologist Director of the Center for Faith Development and Center for Ethics at Emory University

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theory critique of dr james w fowler

Theory Critique of Dr. James W. Fowler

Marian A. Ford

EDHE 6520

Dr. Baier – Spring 2009

biography of fowler 1940
Biography of Fowler 1940-
  • Developmental psychologist
  • Director of the Center for Faith Development and Center for Ethics at Emory University
  • Professor of Theology and Human Development at Emory University
  • United Methodist minister
  • Published author
    • Stages of Faith: The Psychology of Human Development
    • Becoming Adult, Becoming Christian
    • Faith Development and Pastoral care
    • Faithful Change
    • To See the Kingdom
why did he develop his theory
Why Did He Develop His Theory?
  • Believes faith more than religion or belief is most fundamental category of human quest for relation to transcendence.
  • Believes that faith is the primary motivation for individual’s life
  • Believes faith is a holistic orientation and is concerned with individual’s ability to relate to what is universal
  • Goal was to chart faith development throughout individual lifespan in order to characterize common faith stages and transitions that separate them
stages of faith
Stages of Faith
  • Faith is the universal human activity of making meaning and giving shape to how humans infer and relate to themselves and the world around them.
  • Modeled after Jean Piaget and Lawrence Kohlberg’s theories
  • Developmental path of person's way of making sense of and relating to “ultimate” environment
  • Used to influence pastoral care, development psychology and religious education
theory used to evaluate how students change in college
Theory Used to Evaluate How Students Change in College
  • Cognitive-structural model
  • Describes spiritual development and cognitive process
  • Concerned with process where student comes to subscribe to particular beliefs held by them
  • Relational nature of beliefs and meaning involves students’ interactions with others and commitment to higher being as origin which gives students meaning and purpose
  • Implications of faith stages can be related to perceptions of members of out groups and attitudes towards those similar and dissimilar from them
seven stages of faith
Seven Stages of Faith
  • Pre-stage or primal stage
  • Stage One: Intuitive or Projected Faith
  • Stage Two: Mythic or Literal Faith
  • Stage Three: Synthetic or Conventional Faith
  • Stage Four : Individuate or Reflective Faith
  • Stage Five: Conjunctive Faith
  • Stage Six: Universalizing
pre stage
Pre-stage
  • Occurs during preverbal year
  • Mutual Interaction between infant and primary caregiver
  • Provides foundation of faith
intuitive stage 1 vs mythic stage 2
Intuitive (Stage 1)vs. Mythic (Stage 2)

Projective Faith (1)

Literal Faith (2)

  • Usually children aged 3-7
  • Fantasy filled imitative phase
  • Children can be influenced by examples, moods and actions and stories of related adults.
  • First awareness of death and sex, ability to grasp experiences
  • Transition occurs when there is concrete operational thinking and resolution and distinction between reality and non-reality.
  • Usually school-aged children
  • Person tells stories, has beliefs and makes observations.
  • Moral rules, attitudes and literal interpretations
  • Impacted by symbolic and dramatic materials
  • Transition occurs when implicit clash between stories which makes child reflect.
synthetic stage 3 vs individuate stage 4
Synthetic (Stage 3) vs. Individuate (Stage 4)

Conventional Faith (3)

Reflective Faith (4)

  • Usually arises in adolescence but could remain permanent stage in adults
  • Experience of world extends beyond family, school, work and media; ego is dominant
  • Transition occurs when contradiction between valued authority exists, encounters experience to lead to reflection of values ( i.e.. Leaving home)
  • Usually occurs in adolescence or early adult
  • Burden of responsibility for own lifestyle, attitudes and beliefs
  • Shift from dependence on others’ spiritual beliefs to development of own
  • Restless with outlook and self-image; existential anxiety sets
  • Transition occurs when critical reflection on identity and hears inner voices
conjunctive stage 5 vs universalizing stage 6
Conjunctive (Stage 5) vs. Universalizing (Stage 6)

Conjunctive (5)

Universalizing (6)

  • Usually occurs in mid-life, if at all
  • Integration into self and outlook of what was suppressed and unrecognized in previous stage
  • Strives to unify opposites in mind and experience
  • Rise of ironic imagination and appreciates other’s rituals because own view is so deep
  • Usually occurs in older adults if at all
  • Very rare
  • Search for universal values, unconditional love and justice
  • Often referred to as enlightenment
  • Examples include Gandhi and Mother Theresa
faith development interview fdi
Faith Development Interview (FDI)
  • Semi- clinical interview developed by Fowler’s research
  • Focuses on significant life experiences and meanings to person
  • Optional autobiographical questionnaire (Life Tapestry Exercise) can be filled out prior to interview (established 1986)
  • Sensitivity used by interviewer; lasts 2-3 hours
fdi measurement areas
FDI Measurement Areas

Four broad areas

    • General life review
    • Review of life-shaping experiences and relationships
    • Description of present values and commitments
    • Specific questions about religion ( i.e.. Relationship of religion to morality)
  • Certain questions may be in order and form, but structure of interview and flow based on how previous questions are being answered
fdi scoring measurements
FDI Scoring Measurements
  • Scoring made by comparing answers to formal stage descriptions; specific stage level guidelines for seven stages
  • Benchmarks used and Manual for Faith Development Research
    • Add scores for each response under each location and divide by number of response
    • Arithmetic average, combined and averaged to yield overall score
    • .39 or less round down, .70 or higher round up, between represents subject in stage transition
limitations of fdi
Limitations of FDI
  • Great amount of time needed to administer interview
  • Dependent on clinical sensitivity and training with administrators and scorers of test
  • Uncovers cognitive dimensions of faith rather than affective or relational
  • Heavy focus on scoring guide on structural elements of faith in stage determination
  • Computing arithmetic average flattens out score
  • Hard to determine if personality of person plays a role in evaluating faith development measures and theory
strengths of fdi
Strengths of FDI
  • Best validated instrument designed to measure stages
  • Encompasses all structural elements Flower proposes
  • Includes cognitive and relational affective dimensions of faith
  • Could prove that some college students reach stage five prior to middle age
theory has been used to show affects of college students
Theory Has Been Used to Show Affects of College Students
  • Individuals’ perceptions of group membership and individuality
  • Primary orientation to social activity and peer-group
  • Can use to predict how people in stages view others who are similar and dissimilar
  • Can be important to understand; measure impact upon aspect of one’s behavior
  • Stages help evaluate how students might relate to others most like them
positive aspects of theory
Positive Aspects of Theory
  • Helps evaluate members of in-groups and out groups
  • Those in same stages could react differently in some ways from others in later faith stages
  • One’s faith stage can have important impact upon aspects of student’s behavior
limitations of theory
Limitations of Theory
  • How does one measure the stages of faith as opposed to different types of faith?
  • How does one determine if students are just attracted to sentiments in particular stage when not actually living by the ideals?
questions for future studies
Questions for future studies
  • What is the student’s primary orientation to future family role?
  • What is the student’s primary orientation to future professional role?
  • How can students seeking their identity help manage their personal problems, ideology and values?
other measurements used
Other Measurements Used

Faith Styles Scale

  • Questionnaire for only adults
  • Non open-ended questions
  • Not given by trained administrators

Faith Development Scale

  • Questionnaire with forced choices
  • Paired item scale usually used with only adults
references
References
  • Conn, Joann (1986).Stages of Faith. Women's Spirituality: Resources for Christian Development. 226-232.
  • Fowler, James W. (1981). Stages of Faith: The Psychology of Human Development and the Quest for Meaning. New York, New York: Harper & Row.
  • Green, Charles (1989).Stages of Faith and Perceptions of Similar and Dissimilar Others. Review of Religious Research. 30(3), 246-254.
  • Parker, Stephen (2006).Measuring Faith Development. Journal of Psychology and Theology. 34(4), 337-348.
references cont
References cont.
  • Streib, Heinz (2005).Faith Development Research Revisited: Accounting for Diversity in Structure, Content, and Narrativity of Faith. The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion. 15(2), 99-121.
  • Streib, Heinz (2004).Extending Our Vision of Developmental Growth and Engaging in Empirical Scrutiny: Proposals for the Future of Faith Developmental Theory. The Religions Education Association. 99(4), 427-434.