Find an established theory that addresses the topic you’re exploring in this course. Good established theories are those that have received significant attention by multiple writers, but which usually can be traced to one author whose work has been expanded upon by other researchers whose work is also often cited. Examine the major aspects and variables of your own topic and start searching for theories that touch on your subject. Once you’ve found a theory that could serve as the framework of your research topic or question, write a 600-word essay that explains that theory, in detail, and addresses why it could serve as a possible theoretical framework for your own research. (Feel free to use the sample theoretical framework as an example.) This assignment will be graded on content, adherence to APA style, and English grammar and usage.

Topic: Athlete Department on a Collegiate level .

Research Question

1. Should athletic department be allowed to pay student athletes as work study participants

2. Does having a good athletic department help or harm overall school achievement

Theoretical Framework: Parks (1986, 2011)

Although the developmental theories described briefly in the previous sections have

relevance to the current study, the Model of Faith Development proposed by Parks (1986) and

later revised (2011) was identified as being particularly instructive in relation to this study’s

focus on vocational calling. Parks (1968, 2011) addressed faith development by suggesting that

people progress not through age-based or circumstance-based stages but through forms of

cognition (later termed knowing), dependence, and community in which they make meaning of

life. Parks’s (1968, 2011) form of cognition/knowing was based on Perry’s (1968) scheme of

intellectual and ethical development in college students, and it tracks an individual’s cognitive

development from a reliance on outside authorities for knowledge through periods of relativism,

then probing and tested commitment, and finally into a sense of convictional commitment

regarding what an individual knows to be true about faith. Parks’s form of dependence similarly

illustrates how an individual relies early in life on others for how one feels about one’s faith, to a

stage of independence, and finally to interdependence that is characterized by “mutual

nurturance, affection and belonging” (Parks, 1986, p. 60). Parks’s form of community

progression describes an individual’s journey of making meaning of faith through types of

community that are at first characterized by conventional norms such as place of birth or social

class, to the self-selection of peers, and, ultimately, to an openness to the “other” (Parks, 1986, p.


Of special interest to this study is the progression of development outlined in Parks’s

(2011) forms of knowing (previously labeled as forms of cognition [1986]). Initially in this

progression, an individual’s source of knowledge is found in an outside authority (e.g., God or

parents). Eventually, the self begins to replace preexisting authorities as the source of

knowledge, and based on their personal convictions, individuals begin to take ownership of their

commitments relative to what they know and what they have experienced.

To better explain the challenges facing many emerging adults, Parks (2011) divided this

phase of meaning-making—which she labeled commitment within relativism—into two sub-

phases: probing commitment during which life’s obligations are still being explored, and tested

commitment during which a commitment to one particular option is displayed. Parks contended

that most emerging adults are in the process of moving from probing commitment to tested

commitment. At this stage, emerging adults ask such questions as, “Where do I put my stake in

the ground and invest my life?” (Parks, 2011, p. 222). This question mirrors a similar question

proposed later by Arnett (2015) in his identification of characteristics of emerging adults: “What

kind of job would really fit me best, given my ability and interests?” (p. 145). Movement

through these elements of Parks’s forms of cognition/knowing—part of her overall Model of

Faith Development—reflects many college students’ explorations of calling and the search for a

vocational path that best aligns with their personal commitments, worthy ideas, and deeply held


Questions incorporated into the interview protocol for this study were designed, in part,

based on Parks’s (1986, 2011) forms of cognition/knowing aspect of her Model of Faith

Development, in the sense that faculty participants were asked to describe their own movement

through these stages of commitment; to report the ways they had observed students making such

movements; and to describe the attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors they have employed in assisting

students with this movement. For example, the question How did you wind up teaching here—

what drew you to this place in particular? elicited stories of participants’ journeys through

several jobs that did not match what they believed their vocational calling to be and ultimately to

their current positions as educators in which they are taking ownership of their personal

commitments and experiences. In response to the question, Do any spiritually-informed

conversations with a student stand out?, several participants reported how students’ faith-related

questions coincided with the commitment-oriented questions posed by Parks (1986, 2011) and

Arnett (2004). Answers to another protocol question, To what extent do you believe it is your

responsibility to talk about vocational calling? (and its subsequent follow-up probe, How do you

do that?), reflected the attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors of faculty who were interested in

assisting students’ progress through Parks’s developmental stages—in specific, movement from

probing commitment toward tested commitment.

By collecting data from the Christian college faculty members who participated in this

study, the project sought to gain insight into the attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors of those

participants who acknowledged prioritizing a developing sense of vocational calling in their

students’ lives. Therefore, Parks’s (1986, 2011) model and its forms of cognition/knowing

aspect were appropriate choices for this study because of how they described the faith

development of emerging adults, including the college students with whom the faculty

interviewed for this study teach and work on a daily basis.

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