Adult Religious Education as Transformative Learning: The Use of Religious Coping Strategies as a Response to Stress


Detra Bishop

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Studies and Research

First Advisor

W. Lee Pierce

Advisor Department

Educational Studies and Research


The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between participation in adult religious education and coping resources used by African-American women and to determine if there was a relationship between stressful life events, certain demographic variables, and the use of coping resources. A total of 126 women from Protestant churches in southeast Mississippi were surveyed using the Religious Participation Assessment (RPA), the Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS), the Coping Resources Inventory (CRI), and the Ways of Religious Coping Scale (WORCS). Five women participated in a follow-up interview. Pearson correlation analyses indicated positive linear relationships between RPA and CRI and RPA and WORCS; coping scores increased in proportion to level of participation in religious activities. Multiple regression analyses exploring the relationship between the experience of stressful life events, the use of coping resources, and demographic variables revealed only one statistically significant finding: stressful events decreased as age increased. Results from qualitative data collected from interviews revealed that church involvement, reading the Bible, and prayer all played a major role in transforming and sustaining these women's lives following a disorienting dilemma. In conclusion, the results from this study suggest that participation in adult religious education is a significant coping strategy for African-American women.