Skip to Main Content

CMI 242 - Psychological & Educational Foundations for Christian Ministries

This guide provides resources to help support the CMI 242 course and assignments.

Course Assignment

research paper

Assignment Details

Assignment Details 1

The Research Paper Assignment (updated 2022)


7-8 page paper in correct MLA style that focuses on one topic related to the developmental psychology and/or educational foundations for Christian educational ministry.


This assignment is designed to provide you with the opportunity to explore a topic that is of particular interest to you and to practice research and writing skills.  The goal is to have students see questions as a way to intellectually engage and solve real-life ministry problems and issues.  This is a preliminary preparation assignment for your final philosophy of ministry paper you will write in CMI 421 during your senior year.


Your paper should:

  • synthesize what the sources say about your topic
  • focus on a specific age/geographic/ethnic group (if this fits the topic of your paper)
  • refer to at least one specific educational and/or developmental topic (either one covered in this class or another theory that you research) – showing how it relates to your topic (Please note – this is the majority of your paper, your paper is primarily about this research)
  • make an application of the ideas in the research to a ministry situation – show how what you have learned can be used


  • At least 8 sources in your works cited list (do not use a “works consulted” list).  More sources than this are often needed.
  • No more than 3 on-line sources
  • At least 3 journal articles
  • You should also use at least one primary source in your paper for developmental and learning theories. 
  • Do not overuse textbooks from this class or from Life Span
  • Correct MLA documentation style
  • The use of headings in your paper is important
  • Your audience is a group of volunteer adults who are part of your ministry team.  Write with this audience in mind.

Possible Topics:        

There are hundreds of possible topics!  The topics below are offered to stimulate your thinking.  Remember, the goal of your paper is to use a developmental or learning theory to understand your topic better – don’t just write a paper about your topic in general!

  • Effective story-telling and faith development
  • Mentoring as a means of shaping faith
  • Moral development during college years
  • Character development in children
  • Jerome Berryman and Godly Play
  • A problem solving approach to effective learning
  • Senior adult ministry
  • An experiential approach to youth ministry
  • The role of apologetics in faith development
  • Emerging trends in contemporary youth ministry
  • The role of silence in the educational process and spiritual formation
  • Characteristics of “millennial” youth
  • Children and conversion
  • Young adults and identity formation
  • The role of lectio divina in spiritual formation of adolescents
  • The strengths and limitations of a generational approach to programming in the church
  • “Family-based” youth ministry
  • The role of mission and service in spiritual nurture.
  • Small groups as a means of nurturing faith
  • Cooperation vs. competition in the church
  • Single adults and the church
  • Children in crisis
  • Incorporating the arts into your ministry setting
  • The Role of Camps and Retreats in the Spiritual Formation of Adolescents
  • Mentoring and Vygotsky
  • Psychological Effects of Parental Divorce on Young Adults and Implications for Ministry


Your paper will be developed and handed in in four stages.  Please check the class schedule for due dates (points will be lost for turning in assignments late).  All papers must be typed.

Proposal:  This formal proposal should describe your topic and the theoretical construct you are planning to explore.

  • Describe your goal for this paper and the preliminary questions that you hope to answer in your research. Do not predict what the answers you will find will be, ask a question that you hope the research will help you answer.  
  • Describe for what audience you will be writing. 
  • Describe how you think developmental psychology and/or educational foundations for Christian educational ministry can help inform your topic. 
  • 25 points

(If you change your topic anywhere along the process, you must write a new proposal and get permission from the instructor to change your topic.

Sources:  You need to list a beginning bibliography of at least 10 sources. 

  • Do not include in your list of 10 sources any classroom textbooks (you can use these books in your paper, but your list of 10 should not include these books). 
  • List your sources in MLA format (you will lose up to 5 points for improper MLA formatting – please note, computerized formatting tools do not always work correctly). 
  • Include some primary sources for your developmental and/or learning theory. 
  • Include your proposal when you turn in your sources (hand in the one with the instructor’s comments on it). 
  • 25 points.

Detailed Outline of Paper:  Turn in a 3 page outline of your paper.  A summary of your ideas and potential quotes should be included.  This outline should literally be in outline form.  The only part of your outline that should be fully written out is your introductory paragraph.  In your introductory paragraph please clearly state your thesis (underline your thesis statement in your introduction), preview where your paper is going to go, and briefly describe your audience for the paper.  Include your proposal, sources papers, and annotated bibliography (the copies with the instructor’s comments on them) when you turn in your outline.  25 points

Here is one way your outline could be set up:

    • Introductory Paragraph (this is the one part of your paper that should be in paragraph form)
      • State your thesis (underline your thesis statement)
      • preview the major points of paper (people often miss this process – be careful!)
      • describe your audience (who is the paper written for?)
    • If your paper is going to focus on a specific age/geographic/ethnic group then describe it
    • Describe the specific educational and/or developmental topic your paper deals with
    • make an application of the ideas in the research to a ministry situation – show how what you have learned can be used
    • Conclusion

Final Paper:  Please check the Research Paper Feedback form to understand exactly what you need to include in your final paper.  Include a clear introduction and conclusion for your paper.  After your introduction, preview your paper (and in the conclusion, review the paper).  Use headings in your paper.  Again, clearly underline your thesis statement in your introduction.  Make sure you proofread your paper (getting someone else to read it also would be VERY wise).  Make sure you clearly define all terms.  Include a complete Works Cited list for your final paper.  Include the Writing Center evaluation with your paper along with your original proposal, sources, and outline (the copies with the instructor’s comments on them).  250 points.


Writing Center:

You must consult with at least one aspect of the paper writing process with a writing assistant in the Writing Center.  You can get help on picking an idea, developing a bibliography, developing an outline, editing, grammar, or an overall reading of the assignment.  Writing Center tutors can help you on all of your writing in any stage of your writing process, but they will usually focus on content and organization before they look at grammar and style. Expect to be actively involved during your session, whether you are developing a better thesis, reorganizing your main points, or consulting a style manual to understand formatting rules. You must include a written evaluation by a Writing Center assistant after your consultation.  Papers without a Writing Center evaluation will be returned.  Do not wait too long to make an appointment with the Writing Center, you must plan ahead so that you can have your paper checked and adjusted before the paper is due.  TU Writing Center are located in Zondervan 132. To make an appointment at the writing center, go to

Assignment Details

How to Choose a Topic and Write a Research Paper


The next page outlines the process of how to select a topic and write a research paper. 

Click the button below to navigate to the guide on the next page.

Page Bottom