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Anzats 2011

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  • 1. INCORPORATING STUDENT EXPERIENCE AND TRANSFORMATIVE LEARNING INTO CURRICULUM DESIGN & PLANNING OF UNDERGRADUATE THEOLOGICAL DEGREES COUNCIL OF DEANS OF THEOLOGY
  • 2. Behind the Project
    • Uncovering Theology 2008
      • more mature experienced students
      • transformative experience in theological education
    • Aim
      • to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the undergraduate theological education curriculum in providing an increasingly diverse population of theological students with a transformative education
  • 3. Scope
    • All theological HEPs in Australia
      • Universities
        • ACU, CSU, Flinders, Murdoch, Newcastle, Notre Dame
      • Consortia
        • ACD, ACT, MCD, SCD
      • Stand-alone HEPs
        • Alphacrucis, Avondale, CHC, Harvest, Harvest West, Tabor Adelaide, Tabor Victoria, Moore, PBC, Wesley
      • 50 teaching campuses
  • 4. Research Methods
      • Literature survey on transformative learning, with particular reference to theological programs
      • Historical and Current Curriculum Document Analysis
      • Student Surveys, Focus Groups, Interviews
      • Faculty Interviews
      • Church Leaders, Employers, Graduate Interviews
      • Workshop
  • 5. Findings to Date
    • Curriculum Development
      • historical
      • current
    • Student Profile
      • at entry
      • initial expectations
      • transformative experiences
      • life experience
      • most valued subject areas
    • Learning and Teaching
      • institutional focus
      • content, skills, methods
  • 6. Curriculum Development 1973-2010
    • High degree of uniformity in course design and content
      • biblical studies + systematic theology + limited church history
      • + philosophy in Catholic tradition
    • 1990s-2010
      • inclusion of ministry skills, especially in BMin programs
        • more in Bible colleges than in mainstream denominational systems
        • mainly class-room teaching with some field placement or practical project work
      • increase in Supervised Field Education
        • still relatively minor electives
        • limited pedagogical rigour
    • No clear evidence of intentional or strategic connection with a student’s prior life experience
    • No clear evidence of intentional transformative learning
  • 7. Student Profile: at entry
    • Age
      • Very few under 20 (6%)
      • Most between 20-40 (64%)
    • Prior Education
      • 45.5% have prior bachelor or post-graduate degree
      • 27% have post-secondary certificate/diploma
    • Assumptive Tensions
      • all are blank sheets with no prior knowledge or study skills
      • all are at same stage of readiness for theological study  
  • 8. Students’ Initial Expectations
    • Most common aspiration
      • acquisition of deeper theological/biblical knowledge accompanied by personal spiritual development
    • Other
      • acquisition of practical ministry skills
        • but not outcome of paid vocational employment
      • interpersonal relations & cultural issues are not as important as knowledge and personal development 
    • In terms of goals , cognitive learning & skills development are more significant than personal transformation
      • attractiveness of “transformation” may not be as strong as suggested by the colleges’ promotional material
  • 9. Students’ Transformative Experiences
    • Personal transformation has been a common outcome of theological study
      • reaching full potential rather than radical change
    • Intense personal challenge involved in critical study of sacred texts and doctrines
      • with resultant strengthening of levels of faith and tolerance
      • but also lack of spiritual support for such intense struggle
    • Expansion of intellectual horizons and critical thinking
      • broadening of tolerance towards other theological & ecclesial positions
    • Greater degree of simultaneous humility and confidence in terms of personal identity and role 
  • 10. Emergent challenges
      • Should such transformative development be
        • allowed (by happenstance)
        • fostered (by encouragement)
        • or strategized (by planning)?
      • (How) should schools support such personal struggles?
  • 11. Students’ Life Experience
    • Little evidence of any intentional connection between theological study and prior life experience
      • only occasional and incidental intersection
    • More intentional (though not necessarily strategic) linkage with current experience
      • esp in areas of ministry
      • esp associated with field placements, integrated with or parallel to the degree program
    • Experiential application happened more via the community of theological education than by the content of the curriculum
      • lecturers and student cohort very significant agents
  • 12. Emergent challenges
      • (How) can prior life experience be used as an enrichment springboard for theological studies?
      • (How) can integration of contemporary life situations be expanded beyond the currently dominant preparation for professional ministry?
      • (How) can the role of the theological community be used more strategically in such integration?
  • 13.  
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  • 20. Emergent themes
    • Cognitive aspirations
    • (trans)formative experiences
    • Pivotal role of lecturer and theological community in transformative experiences
    • Need of pastoral support throughout transformative experiences
    • Issues of modern pedagogy
  • 21. Learning and Teaching Institutional Focus
    • Need to define the primary raison d’être of your institution
    • In terms of student development, which area is the most important focus in your school?
        • Biblical/theological knowledge
        • Practical ministry skills
        • Personal growth
  • 22. Balance in Curriculum
      • Content
        • Historical truth
        • Contemporary world
      • Skills
        • Professional performance
        • Personal applications and engagements
      • Methods
        • Scope for creativity
        • Modern pedagogy
  • 23. Problem Solving Appreciative Inquiry “ Felt Need” Identification of a Problem Analysis of Causes Analysis of Possible Solutions Action Plan (Treatment) Appreciating Valuing the Best of “What Is” or “Where I have come from” Envisioning “What Might Be” Or “What I might become” Dialoguing “What Should Be” or “What I should become” Innovating “What Will Be” Or “What I will become” Basic Assumption: Person Has/Organization Is a problem to be solved Basic Assumption: Person is a Continuing Work in Process With Past/Existing Successes that can be built on
  • 24. Still to come
    • Stakeholder Interviews September-October
      • 2 Faculty; Academic Board Chair/Dean of School; Church Leaders/Employers; Graduate
    • Workshop
      • April 2012; Dissemination of Findings; Articulation of Best Practices
        • Or Good Practices in Various Contexts
    • Communications
      • Brochure; Newsletter
      • Website; Blog
      • Final Publication late 2012  

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