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Personal and Spiritual Formation

1. Goals or Outcomes

The program shall provide opportunities to assist students in developing commitment to Christian faith and life (e.g., expressions of justice, leadership development, the devotional life, evangelistic witness) in ways consistent with the overall goal and purpose of the school's MDiv program.

2. Quantitative or qualitative information

Examples of opportunities

  • Chapel/worship services
  • Retreats/workshops
  • "Precept" (accountability groups)/small group settings (possibly including faculty/staff along with students)
  • Trained mentors/guides (spiritual directors)
  • Courses on spiritual, moral, pastoral leadership, boundary issues, professional ethics, etc.

Data gathering (with appropriate regard for confidentiality)

Direct measures

  • Reports from trained faculty advisers/mentors
  • Field education director reports
  • Capstone integrative paper (useful to train students early on how to do integrated, theological reflection so that the capstone paper is more effectively developed at the end of the student's tenure)
  • Reports from a faculty board that interviews students at the beginning, midpoint, and end of the student's tenure. The results are to be kept in a portfolio or a "mentoring notebook" (hard copy or web-based)
  • Results reviewed on an aggregate basis so that student confidentiality is preserved for purposes of programmatic evaluation

Indirect measures

  • Student reflection papers
  • Self-evaluation/personal growth goals

3. Assessment of performance

  • Eighty percent of the students demonstrate satisfactory compliance by participating in formational opportunities and are satisfied with faculty mentoring/advising opportunities (indirect measure).
  • GSQ results confirm high satisfaction results (indirect measure).
  • Alumni survey indicates that 65 percent of students continue to make use of mentoring notebook to guide ongoing faith development in ministry.
  • Faculty board reports indicate that 90 percent of students demonstrate effective integration of personal and spiritual maturity as judged by the depth of responses to cases posed to students during oral interviews, on a 5-point Likert scale.

Strengths of the program

  • High participation rates in formational opportunities, strong student satisfaction (as well as faculty satisfaction with their training for the mentoring role and performance in the mentoring role)
  • Ninety-five percent of field education supervisor reports corroborate the degree of student integration manifested in the results of the faculty board reports (illustrates the value of "multiple measures" to assess effectiveness).
  • A significant and growing number of alumni (from 10 to 22 percent since initiation of the continuing education program five years ago) register for continuing education opportunities for faith development.

Weaknesses of the program

  • In its follow-up analysis of why 20 percent of the students don't participate in formation opportunities, faculty discovered that the major factors were commuter difficulties, family responsibilities and work demands to supplement family income, concerns about the lack of diversity in offerings (i.e., chapel services, guest speakers, field placement opportunities lacked ethnic/cultural sensitivity).
  • "Precept groups" convened at inconvenient times and meeting spaces were not conducive to formational sharing (noisy, high traffic areas of the campus).
  • Students desired more access to faculty and mentors at times other than those presently scheduled.
  • Women students felt that there were too few women mentors.

4. Revised goals or activities

Results from commuter students and foregoing analysis require a more diverse and comprehensive understanding of "opportunities" for personal and spiritual formation.

Revised activities

  • More actively recruit more ethnically and gender diverse speakers, worship presiders, and faculty
  • Convert a portion of the student lounge to accommodate precept and small group gatherings
  • Develop an advisory group of commuter students to elicit suggestions for improved services
  • Expand some faculty office hours for advisement/counseling/mentoring activities with appropriate adjustment in teaching workload
  • Suggestions from alumni survey about continuing education programs need to be implemented (e.g., conflict resolution in the local church)
  • Request more budget support for improvements to formation program
  • Alumni in favor of web-based precept/spiritual formation groups to continue after graduation from the seminary, etc.

The famous loop . . . continues!