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Collaborative learning and moral reasoning in the Religious Education classroom. A case study of a year 8 class

Thomas Breakwell

(PGCE Secondary Religious Studies, 2019-2020)



This case study of a year 8 class explores if collaborative learning could help year 8 pupils develop both their moral reasoning skills and increase their retention of RE subject knowledge. The research assumes that knowledge is epistemologically grounded in a ‘knowledge rich’ curriculum with ‘moral reasoning’ understood through a Kohlbergian framework of moral development, in contrast to postmodern or character-based approaches. Through observation of pupils’ engagement with collaborative learning, analysis of group and individually produced answers, and qualitative analysis of Kohlbergian style moral dilemmas to investigate the extent to which pupils engaged with collaborative learning tasks, retained knowledge of RE subject knowledge (Christian ethics) and developed their moral reasoning skills. Overall, findings suggest that collaborative learning could help some pupils learn and retain subject knowledge. However, collaborative learning was largely ineffectual at helping pupils develop their moral reasoning skills, with pupils limited to preconventional and conventional stages of moral reasoning.

Copyright: © 2021. This paper is copyright of the author. (Please read the Journal's copyright information page by using the menu to the left of this page.)

The full paper is available for download as a pdf file: [pdf] 227-256breakwellt

Citation: Breakwell, T. (2021) 'Collaborative learning and moral reasoning in the Religious Education classroom. A case study of a year 8 class'. Journal of Trainee Teacher Educational Research, Volume 12 pp.227-256 (Downloaded from, [date of access])