This Participatory Action Research (PAR) project focused on “holistic learning” which includes “social” and “spiritual” learning and “whole-brained” learning. Broadly interpreting and applying the four-quadrant brain model of Herrmann (1994), and other models of the brain, my study seeks to understand whether, to what extent and how learning can be advanced by deliberately employing holistic learning strategies to narrow the gap between theory and practice, between left-brain and right-brain learning, and between cognition and emotion. I introduced tri-dimensional (3-D) practice as the combination of using holistic learning strategies in cooperative learning groups within spiritual learning environments. The site of this PAR study was the network of cooperative learning groups in Mozambique within the educational system of the Church of the Nazarene. Facilitators were trained to use six specific “holistic learning strategies”: group discussions of various types, praxis (as reflection-dialogue-action), teamwork, rehearsing integrity, singing-for-learning and classical spiritual disciplines within cooperative learning groups, also a holistic learning strategy. These aspects are typical of the widely used model of Theological Education by Extension (TEE), refined in this study. According to data gathered in a large hybrid survey, 97% of the 595 respondents to this question responded favourably in terms of the skills of these facilitators even though the average number of years of their formal schooling, 7.7, would normally be considered “minimal”. The study generates findings to support the position that holistic learning strategies enhance the quality of adult learning, at least in settings like those in Mozambique in which the facilitation of learning was 1) bilingual (Portuguese and maternal language), 2) focused on learners who are leaders-in-training, 3) deliberate in spiritual content and ambient, and 4) conducted by minimally-schooled facilitators in cooperative learning groups. The findings, from the responses recorded in qualitative phases of the research, corroborated by descriptive statistics, indicate that the efficacy of holistic learning strategies is related to certain modes of mental activity like whole-making, categorising, and others. This PAR project was conducted within an original research framework, Arboric Research, which takes into account the dynamic, fluid and organic nature of human systems, recognising that infrastructures in which the research takes place are different at the end of the study than at the beginning, like observing the “sap” within a growing grapevine or a tree.
Thesis (PhD (Curriculum Studies))--University of Pretoria, 2006.