School of Education


Doctor of Philosophy


Susan Quindag


Faith Development, Student, Fowler, Faith Development Theory, Creationism, Curriculum


Educational Leadership


The purpose of this transcendental phenomenological study was to explore the lived faith development experiences of eighth-grade Christian students following a creation-theory-based curriculum at a Northern Michigan Christian school. The 12 male and female students who participated were aged 13–14 years and self-identified as Christian. The study setting was a small Christian middle school in Northern Michigan. Researchers have thoroughly investigated many aspects of faith development but had not addressed the faith development of eighth-grade Christian students following a creation-theory-based curriculum. The theoretical framework underlying the study was Fowler’s faith development theory. Data were triangulated from semistructured interviews, focus groups, and journal blogging to enhance the validity of the findings and promote in-depth investigation of faith development. Collected data were coded for emerging themes and then analyzed using the phenomenological analysis methods of horizonalization and writing textural and structural descriptions of meanings. Three themes emerged: faith contributors, faith defined by God, and development of faith by creationism. Studying creationism positively informed student faith development in various ways. The findings supported the viability of Fowler’s faith development theory as a theoretical lens with which to explore youth faith development. The findings also indicated that participants’ views of God and faith grew as a result of studying creationism. Studying creationism also helped to define participant faith.