Archived Voice Articles

Barb Hoekstra helps professors find Christian teaching methods



Middle school teachers are always asking how well their teaching strategies are working. And middle school is where Education Professor Barb Hoekstra began her teaching career. Today there are valuable resources on teaching Christianly in K – 12, she says, but few resources on teaching Christianly for college teachers. So she tackled the subject in her doctoral dissertation.

Drawing on the work of Dr. John Van Dyk and Dr. Harro Van Brummelen, who have written for K – 12 teachers, Hoekstra embarked on her study under the title “Defining the Phenomenon of Teaching Christianly at a Christian College: A Study Conducted at Dordt College.”

Hoekstra interviewed ten Dordt College faculty members known as good teachers, who are committed to teaching out of their Christian perspective and who are highly respected by their peers. The conversations confirmed for Hoekstra that Dordt College faculty are mission-minded and count on each other to work out of a shared vision.

“It’s a wonderful strength,” says Hoekstra. But as in most colleges, emphasis is placed on curriculum and mission. How to teach Christianly usually comes through collegial interaction, trial and error, self-reflection, and student evaluations. Little is written on the topic to assist professors in their teaching.

What came across clearly in Hoekstra’s interviews was an unashamed emphasis on teaching that they hope transforms student’s lives. What didn’t come through was a model for teaching that way. In her dissertation, Hoekstra begins to propose a model, built on the conceptual framework of Van Dyk and Van Brummelen and on processes gleaned through her research of educational literature. She hopes it will be a start in helping Christian college faculty come to more conscious ways of teaching Christianly.