School of Education


Doctor of Education in Curriculum & Instruction (EdD)


James Swezey


Disciple, Discipleship, Christian Elementary School, Spiritual Maturity, The Great Commission




The purpose of this transcendental phenomenological study was to explore and describe lived discipleship experiences of fourth- and fifth-grade students in Christian schools. The theory guiding this study was Vygotsky's impact of social and environmental factors on development because of the connection between relationships and discipleship. The phenomenon of discipleship was explored through a theoretical lens as upper elementary students shared their lived discipleship experiences. Ten students who experienced discipleship in selected Christian school settings were selected for this study using criterion sampling. This study took place in three different Christian elementary school settings in the state of Kentucky, where data were collected via student interviews, student focus groups, and a projective technique of word association. Common themes were identified through data coding to describe the discipleship phenomenon. The central research question guiding this study asked, How do fourth- and fifth-grade students describe their experiences with discipleship in Christian elementary schools? Ultimately, the study revealed the essence of relationships to understand the discipleship phenomenon, which may benefit Christian families, students, Christian school teachers, Christian school leaders, churches, and discipleship development leaders who seek to develop elementary student discipleship.

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