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Exploring adult learning in a bible study home group : a case study.

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Home Group Bible Studies, Fellowship Groups, or Home Cells, to name a few, provide an opportunity for worshipping Christians to meet on a frequent basis for varied reasons but most often to study and learn from the Bible. The existing adult education literature on this international and local practice is scant. This dissertation explores a case of nonformal learning by adults in a Johannesburg-based Methodist home group bible study. The theoretical lenses used to explore the learning of six adults are Lave and Wenger’s (Lave & Wenger, 1991; Wenger, 1998) Community of Practice theory, and Dirkx (Dirkx, 2000, 2001; Dirkx, Mezirow, & Cranton, 2006), English (English, 2000; English & Gillen, 2000) and Tisdell’s (Tisdell, 1999, 2008) Holistic Learning theories. Dirkx’s (2001) theory of holistic learning is situated as a critique of Mezirow’s Transformative Learning theory. The research is conducted in the interpretive paradigm. Case study methodology is used to richly describe the learning and change in three couples within a home group bible study in the context of the home church and Methodism more generally. Data collection methods include observations of home group bible study sessions, semi-structured interviews, programme notes from the bible study programme followed, and journals written by five of the six participants. The analysis of the data takes as its point of departure the voices of the participants, and the description and history of the home group. This study provides opportunity to theorise the learning and changes experienced by the members of this nonformal adult education enterprise, and to contribute to existing literature. Whilst the bible study home group as a whole and the case study participants in particular foreground their learning as rational, cognitive and academic, this study reveals the multidimensionality of their learning. The most significant learning in action is situated within the affective learning domain. Extrarational ways of knowing, intuition and feelings exist in their own right and lead to holistic learning.


Thesis (M.Ed.)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, 2012.


Bible--Study and teaching., Adult learning., Adult education., Fellowship--Religious aspects., Theses--Adult education.