Forty ATS schools that received comprehensive accreditation evaluations between fall 2003 and spring 2006 participated in the Character and Assessment project in varying degrees of involvement. Representatives of thirty-nine schools attended an initial two-day conference that provided resources to assist them in thinking about the goals of theological education, the character of learning that attainment of those goals reflects, and assessment of this type of learning. The conference focused on the findings of three research studies (described below) and included presentations by theological educators and specialists in educational evaluation. Following the initial conference, the schools were divided into two groups.
Ten schools participated in the program over three years, during which time they received consultative services from an educational evaluation consultant and an accrediting staff member. Teams of three to five persons in each school guided their institution's participation in the project. The schools focused their accreditation self-studies on learning for religious vocation and its assessment, and, with supportive resources from the project, they developed patterns of educational evaluation that serve as models for use by other ATS schools, prepared written case reports that were published in the Association's journal, Theological Education, and are providing peer consultation.
Twenty-nine of the invited schools participated in the project in a less intensive way. They participated in the initial conference, received reports of findings of the project's research studies, and were encouraged to use the self-study process as the occasion for exploring the goals of degree programs for persons preparing for religious vocation and for reviewing their institutional educational assessment efforts. They also attended a follow-up conference that focused on the learning of the ten schools, the sharing of resources, and the identification of continuing needs and questions.