Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Use of Visuals in Seminary Education

This session was based on the digital visuals found in my The Visual Word blogsite. Two sets of resources were focused on in this session: a) Collections of visual representations of the Bible story and b) Comic creation and comic character creation (what I often call web generators) sites.

Some who attended this session requested for the list of applications that the collection of visuals can be used for.

These include:
1. Illustrate parts of scripture
2. (Re)Discover biblical narrative in pre/post-literate society
3. Clarify artist’s interpretation of story
4. Create awareness of the global nature of Christianity
5. Promote awareness of other cultures
6. Communicate visually/help visual learners
7. Design variety of learning experiences
8. Promote congregational learning
9. Understand communicative processes (including preaching and reading texts) better
10. Dialogue about copyright issues

Some critical questions arising from the use of these resources include:
1. When does contextualization end and syncretism, blasphemy, or idolatry begin?
2. Is it legitimate to use Jesus visuals during worship?
3. Is it legitimate to use Jesus visuals for teaching? Under which circumstances?
4. Why is it ok to use pictures to teach children the bible by getting them to color pictures from Bible scenes but not visuals to teach a visually oriented, biblically illiterate audience using Bible Manga or Powerpoint visuals?
4. If in scripture, God is revealed through his Word and not through visual representation (i.e. an idol), should we be using visuals to transmit understanding of God?
5. How is the representation of God distorted or limited by the use of visuals?

We then went on to explore some of the comic and comic character creation sites on the blog. This is Rev Peter Soh's contribution to the world of visual art.

Remember, the impetus for being familiar with these resources is because we have a new generation of learners and users for whom these visuals are a part of their DNA. If we are not familiar with the issues of living in an increasingly global visually driven culture, or if we don't know how to manage and pose the correct questions to those who function in that world, we have not provided leadership nor are we preparing our students to be leaders in those arenas!

A picture paints a thousand words - which thousand?

Friday, May 23, 2008

The 4th ATA Deans Seminar (Day Five 23 May 2008)

The day started with worship led by Dr Theresa Lua, followed by Dr Fritz Deininger's final meditation on the Pastoral Support of the Dean.

Dr Calvin Chong then led a session on The Use of Powerpoint in Seminary Classrooms during which he shared imaginative ways in which Powerpoint (or any other presentation software) can be effective deployed in classroom. On the other hand, common criticisms about Powerpoint use were also highlighted. The advice which was shared was that seminary educators should move away from dichotomous and polarizing technophile vv technophobe positions and to ask how the technology can be effectively used if it is appropriate technology for your school - bearing in mind that if the technological advances in our countries are where they are today, it is a matter of missional imperative and pastoral duty to be familiar with the technologies and for schools to be providing leadership in this area! Remember, technology is a wonderful servant, but a terrible master!

Some very interesting questions raised about the value as well as the problem of images to represent what is found in the Word were raised for thought and reflection. The questions are important and part of the leadership development process that needs to be found in our schools.

The session on Powerpoint use was followed by the final session of the 4th Deans' Seminar. Questions were raised for the panel comprising of Drs Calvin Chong, Fritz Deininger, Theresa Lua, Peter Theiron and Ron Watters. Kind words of appreciation were conveyed to the resources persons as well as questions of the heart posed to the panel members. A final evaluation session and closing prayer by Bernard Costa ended the week's proceedings.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The 4th ATA Deans Seminar (Day Four 22 May 2008)

The day started with breakfast - especially important for those in their sub-human, pre-coffee state...

...and was followed by worship by Dr Varghese and the session by Fritz Deinenger on the "Pastoral concerns of the Dean."

The first morning session was Workshop A and Workshop B taken by Dr Sukwant Bhatia and Dr Calvin Chong respectively.

Here we have Dr Bhatia's session which covered....

Dr Chong's session covered collaborative techniques based on Barkley, Cross and Major's book Collaborative Learning Techniques.

Here's a quote for you to think about:
Just as learning can take place without teaching happening, so teaching can take place without learning happening

The second session was Workshop C and Workshop D. Dr Bhatia facilitated Workshop C

Workshop D was a simulation game on implementing change in schools. That was a very powerful learning experience because simulations get you to play out your deepest unconscious values and to see consequences of actions in a safe environment.

So its true - the ritual behavior in this class is...well, let's just say different!

After lunch, Workshops C and D were repeated again, followed by a debrief of the simulation.

The afternoon workshops were followed by Dr Theron's session on Learning Communities.

The final evening session featured Ben Pwee's presentation on Sustaining Capacity Building.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The 4th ATA Deans Seminar (Day Three 21 May 2008)

The day started with Puje leading us in worship. Dr Fritz Deninger then went on to share continuing thoughts on the "Pastoral Care of the Dean for Faculty."

This session was followed by Dr Sukwant Bhatia sharing with the group on "Assessment of Learning in Seminaries."

Following Dr Bhatia's session, the group was divided into two workshops. Dr Bhatia ran Workshop A which dealt with issues of Faculty Development. (more information and a picture or two hopefully can be posted later)

Dr Calvin Chong facilitated Workshop B which was designed to introduce participants to Barkley, Cross and Majors' book Collaborative Learning Techniques as well as to provide the deans with experiences of how some of the techniques can be applied in seminary classes.

Participants in Dr Chong's workshop were invited to group themselves by their disciplines and then asked the following questions after provided with a selection of readings from the book to interact with:

1. My summary of how CoLT # _____ is supposed to work.
2. Questions and clarifications from other members of the group about how the CoLT is suppose to work.
3. My example(s) of how the CoLT can be applied in a seminary class to promote learning.
4. Others' examples of how the CoLT can be applied in a seminary class to promote learning.

Before lunch we had opportunity to take a group picture.

After lunch, it was free time for all - which is the reason why there was time to update this blog today!

In the evening, the group traveled by taxi....

to a place where we boarded a boat for a dinner cruise down the river.

On the boat, there was opportunity for fellow deans to fellowship... our different tables...

...especially while we were waiting for our food!

...well, the fellowship continued after the food was consumed too!

The 4th ATA Deans Seminar (Day Two 20th May 2008)

Day Two was started with worship led by Dr Varghese from Jubilee Light Bible College. This was followed by the meditation on "Pastoral Leadership of the Dean to the Faculty" by Dr Fritz Deininger.

Dr Peter Theron lead a session entitled "External Environmental Trends" where he brought attention to some of these changes as well as provided us with a framework within which to view changes. Peter, your godzilla slide must be the best one so far!

This was followed by Dr Theresa Lua's interactive session on "Forces affecting the Church: Implications for Theological Education."

In the afternoon, we had Dr Sukwant Bhatia present to us a talk on Faculty Building. I found the information in this session very helpful even if the session was a little long with those in the front having to cope with a dimly lit situation (Ah - the trade-off that comes with dimming the lights (and the prof at the same time) in order to see what's on screen a little better!) Makes me wonder who or what we value more?

The final session was one presented by Dr Calvin Chong who provided us with reasons why academic deans need to pay attention to the teaching learning processes found seminaries. For most part, there is a default stance and posture which does not take into consideration effectiveness of learning and the experiences of students who are at the receiving end of this teaching posture. The encouragement in the session was thus for deans to help faculty to develop a great repertoire of teaching strategies to achieve the educational goals in their classes and for their institutions. Below is a quote from Dr Phillip's Koh PhD dissertation "Active Learning and Intellectual Excellence in Theological Education in Southeast Asia” where he tried to describe teaching learning practices in South East Asian seminaries:
In general, the educational practice in Southeast Asian seminaries has been deeply influenced by cultural beliefs and values. These influences originate from two cultural streams. The first one is the Confucian ethical system which has enculturated Asian countries with a substantial Chinese population, and also countries such as Korea and Japan. The other cultural stream is the British educational system which has left an enduring legacy in Asian countries which were former British colonies. While the Confucian ethical system elevates the position of the teacher above the students, the British educational system elevates the lecture as the primary mode of instruction. The consequences of a cultural understanding of the position of the teacher, for example, is it affects not only the attitudes of teachers toward students, but also toward the teaching and learning process in theological education in Southeast Asia. (Koh 1998, 223-224)

I think most of us were very grateful for the evening off. The day was very intense and wearying to the mind!

The 4th ATA Deans' Seminar (Day One 19th May 2008)

The 4th ATA Deans Seminar was held in Bangkok from 19-24 May 2008. This is an attempt to document a selection of events over the week.

Day One meeting were opened by Dr Theresa Lua who led us in the welcome and opening session.

After dinner, Dr Ron Watters lead us in a session on Capacity Building. Ben Pwee also chipped in with his great insights on functional and dysfunctional teams as well as qualities of successful leaders.

There were several from our midst who were still making their way to the seminar, delayed by a storm, a delayed flight, etc. One was also no allowed to leave the country for some reason. All reasons for pray for each other.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

ATA GA Intercultural night

Here is a performance given during the InterCultural evening involving a dancer and a nose flautist from the Asian Institute for Liturgy and Music.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

ATA General Assembly in Manila (6-10 August 2007)

The ATA General Assembly was held in Manila from 6-10 August 2007. Here is a picture of all the delegates in attendance.

ATA General Assembly Delegates (Photo taken outside Legends Hotel)

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Appendix: Literature to use for Discussion

Theological Education
Calian, Carnegie Samuel. 2002. The Ideal Seminary: Pursuing Excellence in Theological Education. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Life Together. For a summary of what the book is about, go to

Shaw, Perry. 2006. The Hidden and Null Curricula in The Theological Educator, 1. no.2: 3-7. Click here to access the article.

Understanding the Changing World
Lee Wanak’s article in Journal in Asian Missions Vol 2:1 entitled “Theological Education and the Role of Teachers in the 21st Century: A Look at the Asian Pacific Region.” Click here to access the article.

Understanding your learner
Blair, Christine E. 1997. Understanding Adult Learners: Challenges for Theological Education. Theological Education 34, no. 1: 11-24.

Flannery, Daniele D. 1993. Global and analytical ways of processing information. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education 59:15-24.

Articles from Common Ground Journal Vol 3:1 (Theological Education as Mission -- see especially Marlene Enns’s article).

Use of Educational Technology Related Literature
Ascough, Richard S. 2002. Designing for online distance education: Putting pedagogy before technology. Teaching Theology and Religion 5, no. 1: 17-29.

Chong, Calvin. 2007. The Rise of the Net-Generation: An emerging challenge to seminary classrooms in Asia. Paper read at the 7th International Conference of The Korea Society for Christian Education & Information Technology at the Prebyterian Theological Seminary, Cavite, Philippines, 7th February 2007.

Delamarter, Steve. 2005. A new tool or a new way of doing theological education? Theological Education 41, no. 1: 105-116.

Hess, Mary. 2005. What difference does it make? Digital technology in the theological classroom. Theological Education 41, no. 1: 77-91.

Hook, William J. 2005. Implications of a digital age for theological education. Theological Education 41, no. 1: 57-62.

Jewell, John P. 2005. What does all this (technology) mean for the church? Theological Education 41, no. 1: 17-31.

McKinney, Larry J. 2003. Evangelical Theological Education: Implementing our own Agenda. Paper read at the ICETE International Consultation for Theological Educators, 20 August 2003, at High Wycombe, UK. Click here to access the article.

Oblinger, Diane and James Oblinger. 2005. Educating the Net Generation, Boulder, Colo.: Educause. Click here to access the article.

Prensky, Marc. 2001a. Digital natives, digital immigrants. On the Horizon 9, no. 5. Click here to access the article.

Roels, Shirley. 2004. Global discipleship and online learning: What does Blackboard have to do with Jerusalem? Christian Scholar's Review 33, no. 4: 451-470.

Viktora, Jan. 2005. Not just one more good idea: A reflection on the integration of digital technology in theological education. Theological Education 41, no. 1: 33-44.

Wanak, Lee C. 2000. Theological education and the role of teachers in the 21st century: A look at the Asia pacific region. Journal of Asian Mission 2, no. 1: 3-24. Click here to access the article.

How to conduct classroom discussions
1. UCSC's Getting More Out of Classroom Discussions.

2. Ten Techniques for Energizing Your Classroom Discussions

Teaching tips and Principles
1. Arthur Chickering’s “Seven principles for good practice in undergraduate education”. The 7 principles are published and discussed in the sites below:

a. Chickering's article from the Washington Center News

b. University of Hawaii Faculty Teaching Tips site

c. Joseph Codde (Michigan State University) on the Seven Practices

d. Guidance from the Teaching, Learning and Technology Group on how we can use technology to promote the seven principles.

2. Using Questions to promote learning and thinking

Types of questions

3. Assessment of student learning
Starcher, Rich. 2007. “Assessing for Quality.” ACTEA Forum #6.

Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATS)
Simple tips on how to assess student learning using Classroom Assessment Techniques.

URLs to give you some good ideas about what CATs are and how to use them.

The Role of the Dean

The Dean is instrumental in bringing the faculty team together socially, professionally and institutionally.

Ways of bringing faculty team together SOCIALLY.

1. Social meeting at dean’s home.

2. Have meals before meetings.

3. Plan a fishing outing or a bowling evening.

4. Plan a yearly retreat (team building with emphasis on either fun or professional concerns)

5. Send birthday cards to your faculty. Try Apple iCards for a free and fast way of sending it.

6. Remember what they prefer: Coffee with sugar, white tea with no sugar, etc...

Ways of bringing faculty team together PROFESSIONALLY (see appendix below).

1. Read a book/article together about the goals of theological education, educational best practices, place of technology, wise use of online spaces, etc. to promote effective learning.

2. Have coffee sessions during which time professional issues can be discussed.

3. Invite a educationist to give a talk about specific teaching/learning issues.

4. Syllabus sharing and critique - a time where faculty are invited to share course syllabus with the intention of allowing faculty vet, critique, and provide positive suggestions.

Ways of bringing faculty team together INSTITUTIONALLY.

1. Involve faculty in major decision making processes.

2. Help faculty to see that institution is part of something bigger (e.g. how are we contributing to the development of our denomination, our alumni, our parachurch organization). Cp. Richard Mouw (President of Fuller) who once said…

There are 3 questions that every seminary needs to ask:
i) What is God doing in the world today?

ii) What is the church doing in response to what God is doing in the world today?

iii) What is the seminary doing to help the church align itself with what God is doing in the world today?

The 3rd ATA Dean's Seminar

The 3rd ATA Dean's Seminar was held at Bangkok from 21-25 May 2007.

Here's a picture of the group!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

So what are the goals of theological education?

At the recent ATA Seminar for Academic Deans in May 2006 at the YMCA, Dr Paul Mohan Raj presented a paper entitled “Integrated approach to curriculum: Incorporating ATA distinctives.”

While the focus of the paper was on the need to have an integrated approach to theological education, Dr Mohan Raj spoke and wrote about three areas of formation which comprise ATA distinctives: Academic formation, ministerial formation and personal formation.

Each is important, curriculum at all levels must cover all these areas, and the three areas of formation are promoted through assessment (academic), mentoring (personal) and internship (ministerial).

In some senses, the categories used by ATA reflect the traditional major areas of development and growth that is common to educational institutions

Several years ago, Dr Allan Harkness, Dean of Asia Graduate School of Theology, the graduate arm of ATA published a paper entitled “De-schooling the theological seminary: An appropriate paradigm for effective ministerial formation.”

Allan wrote:
Seminary education is graduate level education that makes contributions to church leadership development by promoting “an appropriate blend of qualities which enable leaders to minister effectively.” These qualities include “the cognitive acquisition of appropriate knowledge, competence in required ministerial skills, and personal character development” (Harkness 2001, 142).

Harkness, Allan G. 2001. De-schooling the theological seminary: An appropriate paradigm for effective ministerial formation. Teaching Theology and Religion 4, no. 3: 108-116.

Actually, to be frank, I do not think that this way of categorizing the areas of formation we need to give attention to is particularly unique nor imaginative

I remember a faculty meeting years ago in the mid- 90s where our dean did an exercise to explore the spiralling development of KSA components, the training of head, hands, heart dimensions of our training.

Then in one of my TEDS PhD classes on organizational development, an American colleague teaching at Beeson Divinity School produced this diagram for theological education.

When I was in Hungary for the European Leadership Forum in 2003, the president of a Ukrainian seminary shared excitedly with our group his understanding of the areas of development he envisioned for his students. I guess he was real excited, but I was getting a little bored because I keep hearing the same things being said about the goals of theological education every where I go: Intellectual formation, personal formation, ministerial formation!

(To be continued...)

Monday, July 17, 2006

From exploring goals of CE to exploring goals of TE

I want to move from this short survey of what educators are saying about the goals of education for the church to what educators and theologians are saying about the goals of theological education. I think it is important to look at more general goals for members of the church first before we look at the more specific goals for development of leaders of the church because the well-being of the body of Christ is what we exist for.

I mentioned earlier hearing Dr Richard Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary in his address on the topic "Kingdom Partnerships: Serving Together in God's World." One of the points made by Dr Mouw that has stuck in my mind is the conversation he related which he had with a member of the Lilly Foundation. This person commented that seminaries which came to foundations asking for money really need to be asking themselves three questions:

1. What is God doing in the world?

2. What does the church need to do to align itself with what God is doing in the world?

3. What does the theological institution need to do to help the church align itself with what God is doing in the world?

I think the point of asking this set of questions is so that theological schools don’t develop an agenda of their own without being aware of God’s agenda for the church of Jesus Christ. The possibility of parallel agendas has been etched into my memory deeply by the encounter with a Church of England curate in the UK who in the course of a conversation on faith and commitment in Jesus Christ, replied to me, "Me Christian? No, I'm just clergy!" So, be mindful, be conscious, be sure of that agenda before we define our agenda within the seminary.

That having been said, what does the literature say about the goals, the aims, the purposes of theological education?
(To be continued...)

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

What Christian Scholars have written about goals for CE (cont'd again)

(continued from 3 July entry)

Christian Education Journal has an issue where you can find three articles on the necessity of "Critical Thinking" as a goal of CE. The article titles and their abstract appear in the snapshot I took of the webpage featuring Vol 15, Issue 1, Fall 1994.

I enjoyed reading Stephen Snyder's article "More Than Content" where it introduces categories which cognitive psychologists use for describing the different types of knowledge. There is content knowledge, there is procedural knowledge, there is metacognition, ie thinking about thinking.

I think in this day and age where the reach of globalization and the endemicity of pluralism are irrevocable realities we have to live with, naming critical thinking/ability to think about thinking as a goal of Christian education is crucial...or is it?

To be continued....

Monday, July 03, 2006

What Christian Scholars have written about goals for CE (cont'd)

(Continued from 1st July entry)

Moving on, in his book Hear, my Son: Teaching and Learning in Proverbs 1–9, Daniel Estes explores educational goals found in Proverbs 1 – 9. Given the nature of the Book of Proverbs, we find that the educational context of Proverbs transcends the idea of an isolated religious community unconcerned about the affairs of everyday life. Instead, the educational context of Proverbs embraces more broadly the totality of life. Estes writes about the goals of education found in Proverbs 1 – 9:

Proverbs 1-9 contains a wealth of information regarding the goals of education in this portion of the biblical wisdom corpus. There are numerous explicit statements indicating the outcomes that the teacher desires to produce in the learner. In addition, the frequent indicators help to define the goals of education envisioned in Proverbs 1–9. (p63)

So what are the goals of education envisioned in Proverbs 1–9? Estes states six of them:
1. Commitment
2. Character
3. Competence
4. Protection
5. Prosperity
6. Knowledge of God

Actually, the idea of education for a larger context than just the bounds of a religious community living under some sort of a sacred canopy is explored by a significant present day Christian philosopher named Nicholas Wolterstorff. Wolterstorff is Noah Porter Professor Emeritus of Philosophical Theology, and Fellow of Berkeley College, at Yale University. In his book Educating for Life: Reflections on Christian Teaching and Learning, Wolterstorff writes:

Christian education cannot teach only for development; it must also teach for healing and reconciling. Christian education must be education that teaches for justice and peace while exhibiting justice and peace. (258)

We work for shalom. And that work takes the form both of working to develop creation’s potentials and of working to heal the dysfunctions in our relationships. (262)

The task of Christian education has two dimensions: The task of development and the task of healing. We need them both. And the task of healing must be energized by lament. Indeed, so must the task of development. (264)

-Nicholas Wolterstorff. 2002. Educating for Life: Reflections on Christian Teaching and Learning.

Note the two dimensions of development and healing that he tries to incorporate in his vision of Christian education. In some ways, the analogy of the medical enterprise helps us to understand what he means by these two dimensions. We strive for shalom or wholeness by investing in primary health care, in preventive medicine, in front end work which allow for development and flourishing. At the same time, we strive for shalom or wholeness by investing in ER services, in damage control, in back end work. In an ideal situation, we need only concern ourselves with preventive and formative work, but in the real world, both development and formation, on the one hand, and fire fighting work, on the other hand, are important educational tasks of the church.

It is thus no surprise that in their book Teaching for Reconciliation, Ronald Habermas and Klaus Issler write about advancing comprehensive reconciliation (33-46) and developing a reconciliation model of Christian maturity (47-57). Habermas and Issler draw their inspiration from Wolterstorff, and for them, the goal of teaching is to promote reconciliation between (i) the individual and God, (ii) the individual and self, (iii) the individual and others, and (iv) the individual and creation (36)

The scope of education suggested by Habermas and Issler is thus broad, comprehensive, and encompasses all of life - from the individual level to the global level.

To be continued...

Saturday, July 01, 2006

What Christian Scholars have written about goals for CE

Before I look at the more specific goals which have been discussed in the literature for theological education, I want to look at some of the more general goals which Christian writers with their different sets of lenses have written for Christian education.

So here I wish to present you with a sample of goals of teaching and learning in the context of the Church and the Christian community.

Michael Lawson, Dept Chair and Senior Prof in CE at DTS writes about teaching for maturity in four areas: maturity in relationships, maturity in morality, maturity in theology, and maturity in service.

Thus he writes:
If the goal of Christian education were only the acquisition of correct content, then Christians should spend a great deal of time making sure they have the right answer. In the New Testament, instruction in content serves the higher goal of love.

The end product of Christian education is a mature life. Mature Christians evidence love and sound judgment by living within the principles and commands laid out by God through the apostles. Over time,s each Christian should move toward maturity. Maturity evidences itself in stable theology, sound moral judgment, healthy relationships, and sacrificial service.
(Lawson 2001 “Education in the Epistles” in Evangelical Dictionary of Christian Education, ed. Michael Anthony. Baker Academic. p228.)

Another important Christian educator I want to draw from is Robert Pazmino

Bob Pazmino is Valeria Stone Professor of CE at Andover Newton Theological School and he writes about teaching for the development of values which equip for the five tasks of the church. The five tasks and their corresponding values are reflected in the diagram below:

Pazmino, Robert W. 1997. Foundational Issues in Christian Education. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker. P45

The idea of developing values which correspond to the five tasks of the church is again surfaced in his book Basics of Teaching for Christians where he writes about teaching and evaluating the development of values which are the goals of Christian education. The difference is that he has modified some of the corresponding values, as seen below:

To be continued...

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Goals and Purposes of theological education

I begin again after an absence. The theme I will develop in this next segment is "Goals, aims, and purposes in theological education." The basic question we will be trying to answer in this section is "Towards what end are we educating men and women who enter theological institutions?"

To start us off, I want to share a story found in Robert Mager's book Preparing Instructional Objectives: A Critical Tool in the Development of Effective Instruction (pv-vi)

Once upon a time a Sea Horse gathered up his seven silver coins and cantered out to find his fortune. Before he had traveled very far he met an Eel, who said,

“Psst. Hey, bud. Where ya' goin’?”

“I’m going out to find my fortune,” replied the Sea Horse, proudly.

“You're in luck,” said the Eel. “For four silver coins you can have this speedy flipper, and then you'll be able to get there a lot faster.”

“Gee, that's swell,” said the Sea Horse and paid the money, put on the flipper, and slithered off at twice the speed. Soon he came upon a Sponge, who said,

“Psst. Hey, bud. Where ya' goin'?”

“I’m going out to find my fortune,” replied the Sea Horse.

“You're in luck,” said the Sponge. “For a small fee I will let you have this jet-propelled scooter so that you will be able to travel a lot faster.”

So the Sea Horse bought the scooter with his remaining money and went zooming through the sea five times as fast.

Soon he came upon a Shark, who said, “Psst. Hey, bud. Where ya' goin’?”

“I’m going to find my fortune,” replied the Sea Horse.

“You’re in luck. If you take this short cut,” said the Shark, pointing to his open mouth, “you’ll save yourself a lot of time.”

“Gee, thanks,” said the Sea Horse. He zoomed off into the interior of the Shark and was never heard from again.

The moral of this fable is...??? (click on the video below to find out):


Now while Mager's message is that instructional objectives are vital, other educators have likewise emphasized the necessity of being clear about your educational objectives.

In their book Classroom Assessment Techniques, Thomas Angelo and Patricia Cross write:

Goals are ends we work toward, destinations we set out for, results we strive to achieve. But goals are far more than terminal points. They are also reference points that we use to measure our progress and to determine whether we are headed in the right direction. Without clear goals, we cannot readily assess the effectiveness of our efforts or realize when we are off course, how far off we are, and how to get back on the right track. For these reasons, assessment efforts of all kinds typically begin with goal-setting or goal clarifying exercises. (p13)

What are goals, aims, and purposes of Christian education and theological education? That is the question we will try to answer with the help of some existing literature I will highlight over the month of July.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Mourning the loss of Rev Derrick Tan

Today we mourn the loss of ATA's General Secretary, the Rev. Derrick Tan. Rev Tan was a great leader and servant of the Lord.

Our prayers and heart felt condolences to his wife, May Ling.

Photo taken at Derek's wake.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Taking a break: A Video message

I am taking a short break because of an upcoming hearing, but am leaving a video message below to explain what will happen in the near future:

Note: Just in case anyone is interested in how this video effect is done, it is very simple. I used a webcam which allowed me to record a video message of myself. The software allows me to substitute my own image for another character. The video clip was then posted on a video hosting site and linked to the blog.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Theological Education Journal

Note that Theological Education journal has got several recent issues devoted to discussions on assessment. Below, I have listed the relevant issues together with their content:

Autumn 1998 Vol. 35, No. 1 Models of Assessing Institutional and Educational Effectiveness: The Pilot School Project

Daniel O. Aleshire

Developing New Evaluative Structures and Procedures
Susan E. Davies, Bangor Theological Seminary

Evaluation: Context, Lessons, and Methods
James A. Meek, Covenant Theological Seminary

Assessment and Institutional Improvement: A Case Study
David Hogue, Garrett‐Evangelical Theological Seminary

Under Review: Comments on the Reaccreditation Process Using the New ATS Accrediting Standards
William H. Brackney and R.E. Vosburgh, McMaster Divinity College

Set in Motion: The Story of Transitions at Memphis Theological Seminary
Mary Lin Hudson, Memphis Theological Seminary

Evaluation and the Educational Effectiveness Circle
Sarah Ann Sharkey, O.P., Oblate School of Theology

Assessment and Planning in a University‐Related Theological School
Dale Launderville, O.S.B., Saint John’s University School of Theology

Mission‐Focused Evaluation: A Work in Progress
Duane A. Priebe and Kathleen L. Priebe, Wartburg Theological Seminary

2003 Vol. 39, No. 1 The Character and Assessment of Learning for Religious Vocation

The Character and Assessment of Learning for Religious Vocation: M.Div. Education and Numbering the Levites
Daniel O. Aleshire

Learning Goals and the Assessment of Learning in Theological Schools: A Preliminary Survey
Gordon T. Smith and Charles M. Wood

Knowing and Caring
Charles M. Wood

Getting to the Question: Assessment and the Professional Character of Ministry
Victor J. Klimoski

What is the Literature Saying about Learning and Assessment in Higher Education?
Carolyn M. Jurkowitz

Exploring the Process of Learning and Assessment: Report on the ATS Workshop on Assessing Theological Learning
Eleanor A. Daniel

Assessing Assessment: An Accreditation Visitor’s View of ATS Outcome‐Oriented Standards
Loyde H. Hartley

2003 Vol. 39, No. 2 Institutional Assessment and Theological Education: “Navigating Our Way”

Jeremiah J. McCarthy

Holding Itself Accountable: The Board’s Responsibility for Self-Assessment
Rebekah Burch Basinger

Presidential Assessment: The Delicate Balance
Vincent Cushing, O.F.M.

Faculty Evaluation: Conversations with Colleagues
Richard Benson, C.M.

Assessing Spiritual Formation in Christian Seminary Communities
H. Frederick Reisz, Jr.

Student Evaluation at Kenrick School of Theology
Lawrence C. Brennan, S.T.D.

Formational Initiatives at Wycliffe College
Merv Mercer

A Call to Growth: The Potential of the Profiles of Ministry Program
Francis A. Lonsway

The Pragmatics of Assessing Master of Divinity Students
William R. Myers

Assessing a Doctor of Ministry Program
Barbara Horkoff Mutch

Serendipity or Grace? What Evaluation Has Taught Us about Education and Ecclesiology in Distance Learning
Charles E. Bouchard, O.P.

Assessment of Student Learning: Some Perspectives
John H. Erickson

Assessment of Ministry Preparation to Increase Understanding
John Harris

2006, Vol. 41, No. 2 Character and Assessment of Learning for Religious Vocation

Vocation in a New Key: Spiritual Formation and the Assessment of Learning
Mary Kay Oosdyke

Speaking Assessment in the Local Vernacular
Linda Lee Clader

Leclercq among the Blue Devils: Assessing Theological Learning in the Modern University
Willie James Jennings

Progressing Toward Ministry: Student Perceptions of the Dispositional Evaluation Process
at Emmanuel School of Religion

Jack Holland

Preparing Leaders for Mission: The Experience of Assessment at Luther Seminary
James L. Boyce and Richard W. Nysse

Practicing Assessment/Resisting Assessment
Robert A. Cathey

Preaching, Proclamation, and Pedagogy: An Experiment in Integrated Assessment
Elaine Park

Moving the Mission Statement into the Classroom
Jo-Ann Badley

Evaluation Rubrics: Weaving a Coherent Fabric of Assessment
Stephen Graham, Kimberly Sangster, and Yasuyuki Kamata

Toward an Integrated Model of Assessment
Dennis H. Dirks

In addition, here is a link to the updated Theological Education Journal Index

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Asking the right questions before SWOTing around

Some time last year, I attended the Eagles Leadership Conference in Singapore. My group had Richard Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary address us on the topic "Kindgom Partnerships: Serving Together in God's World"

Dr Mouw made several very profound points. One of the things that really stuck in my mind was the conversation he related which he had with a member of the Lilly Foundation. This person commented that seminaries which came to foundation asking for money really need to be asking themselves three questions:

1. What is God doing in the world?

2. What does the church need to do to align itself with what God is doing in the world?

3. What does the theological institution need to do to help the church align itself with what God is doing in the world?

Instead of doing a SWOT analysis too quickly, I wonder if we should ask these questions first before we do any form of institutional assessment?

Friday, May 26, 2006

SWOT Analysis

One of the tools which was mentioned in the seminar is the SWOT analysis. For the uninitiated, I have posted an image below which informs us what SWOT is: Strength, Weakness, Opportunities, and Threats.

The idea is to get your team together and to brain storm and list what the group perceives to be strengths, weakness (the first two are internal factors), opportunities and threats (the second two are external factors) to your institution. Out of that is born an action plan to work with!

Of course, the perspective is limited to that of the group--which itself could be a strength, a weakenss, an opportunity or a threat.
Think about that. It's critical!

For more SWOT info, click here or here.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Institutional Assessments

One area that we need to explore more and more is the area of institutional assessment. There was once I was waiting in surgery waiting to see my doctor. The surgery was reputable with very, very good doctors listed in their brochure. My experience with the receptionist however was very, very different. Her cold rudeness and presence seemed to overshadow all the other great services that the practice had to offer.

The analogy suggests that because we operate as a system (and often systems within systems), what is needed is commitment by all parts of the organic whole to great service. All the parts, not just individual parts, need to be committed to promote, not undermine the common vision of the institution.

The analogy also reminds me of a useful tool which was introduced to me by a Russian colleague who told me that it is regularly used in Russian agricultural training circles. The tool, which is also called the Barrel Analysis, looks at the different elements which make up the system as the staves of the barrel.

Looking at the barrel above, you know that the amount of water that the barrel can hold is dependent on the shortest stave, not the longest stave. Sometimes when we look at a curriculum, a program, a faculty, an organization, we affirm the good bits but ignore the bits which we are weak at. A good leader needs to look at the entire system, determine which areas we are good at, and channel resources developing the weak bits so that we can engage in the task of institutional capacity building.

(OK, I am aware that Christian Schwarz does use the same "Barrel Analysis" analogy in his book Natural Church Development, but I prefer the Russian version of my source.)

Another tool which I have found useful for institutional assessments is the Spider or Radar chart. In fact, both tools can be used in combination as tools to do institutional trouble shooting, problem posing and problem solving.

Interestingly, the US Navy has a site which allows you to generate Spider charts which shows in a visual matter, the performance at its different centers. It's useful just to get a sense of how spider/radar charts works.

Just one last comment. The reason why I love the barrel analysis and spider charts is because they help members of the team to visualize what the issues are. There seems to be collective ownership of the issues of the organization and a common realization of where the issues are and what needs to be done by way of appropriate interventions.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Authentic Assessments

Below are several definitions of "authentic assessments" provided by three experts in the area

"A form of assessment in which students are asked to perform real-world tasks that demonstrate meaningful application of essential knowledge and skills" -- Jon Mueller

"...Engaging and worthy problems or questions of importance, in which students must use knowledge to fashion performances effectively and creatively. The tasks are either replicas of or analogous to the kinds of problems faced by adult citizens and consumers or professionals in the field." -- Grant Wiggins -- (Wiggins, 1993, p. 229).

"Performance assessments call upon the examinee to demonstrate specific skills and competencies, that is, to apply the skills and knowledge they have mastered." -- Richard J. Stiggins -- (Stiggins, 1987, p. 34).

Jon Mueller has created a wonderful site called The Authentic Assessment Toolbox where he provides definitions, examples, comparisons with traditional assessments, tools, etc. This is a site worth visiting. Below I provide a screenshot of his site.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Assessing Courses and Classroom activities

We move from a focus on instructors assessing student learning to students assessing teaching processes, learning activities, etc designed. Theological education is a hyphenated word. There is the theological thinking dimension, there is the education dimension. Most of us wear our content specialization hats, but neglect our educator hats. For us to develop in our teaching skills, it is sometimes useful to receive student feedback.

One way to do it is to use the free online FAST assessment tool, a service provided by Mt Royal College, California. FAST stands for Free Assessment Summary Tool, and it can do wonders for our teaching practice.

Here are a few paragraphs from their FAQ page:
What is FAST?
FAST is an anonymous online survey tool that automatically summarizes students' impressions of a course and/or teacher and supplies the data directly to the teacher.

What does FAST do?
FAST allows a teacher to develop an online survey that students can complete 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Teachers can ask up to 20 questions (and change them whenever they want) to determine how students are finding their teaching and the course. The software automatically summarizes and consolidates the students' comments, in real-time, on the web or into a downloadable customized Excel spreadsheet.

The one thing I have found helpful about FAST is that it provides an extensive databank of questions to which you can receive Yes/No, Likert Scale, MCQ, and long answer responses.
Constructing your online questionnaire

In the database, you will find various areas which you can include for assessment. Below you will find a screenshot of the categories, which include Activities/Exercises, Activity Teaching, Assignments/Quizzes, Clear Expectations, etc....
Question Database

What I did was clicked on "Lecture" and these questions popped up which you can select from:
Sample questions on assessing lectures found in question database

I think this is a good tool for deans and faculty to use in order to surface areas they want/need to improve on. It is possible to customize individualized assessments for faculty and for courses to help us develop in the areas we feel we need to give most attention.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

An example of use of rubric

Here is an example of the use of rubrics to assess a church's missions' involvement.

The map is available from ACME Network, and can be downloaded by clicking here

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Free Online Rubric Generators

The urls below are links to rubrics generators. These are free, online tools which help you create your rubrics real quick. They will save you a lot of time, as well as help you think through how to design a rubric.

RubiStar's Rubric Generator
RubiStar is a tool to help the teacher who wants to use rubrics but does not have the time to develop them from scratch.

While many teachers want to use rubrics or are experimenting with writing rubrics, they can be quite time-consuming to develop. RubiStar is a tool to help the teacher who wants to use rubrics but does not have the time to develop them from scratch. RubiStar provides generic rubrics that can simply be printed and used for many typical projects and research assignments. The unique thing about RubiStar, however, is that it provides these generic rubrics in a format that can be customized. The teacher can change almost all suggested texts in the rubric to make it fit their own project.

Below, you will find a video about Rubistar

teAchnology's General Rubric Generator

Chicago Public Schools' Rubric Bank
In The Rubric Bank, you will find a wide variety of performance assessment scoring rubrics. These rubrics are examples of scoring rubrics that have been used by schools, districts and state departments of education throughout the country.

LandMark Project's Rubric Builder: As teachers increasingly design online learning experiences for their students, evaluation of those activities remains a challenge. The Rubric Builder enables teachers to build effective assessment rubrics and to make them available over the World Wide Web.

Fairfax County Public Schools' Performance Assessment for Language Students (PALS)

Friday, May 19, 2006

Evaluating student work using Scoring Rubrics

In the seminar, one of the points raised about evaluating students' work was communicating expectations about what we are evaluating. One of the ways that can be communicated is through the use of scoring rubrics.

What are rubrics? (I'll get to the answer soon...)

In the meantime, here are some online articles from Practical Assessment, Research and Evaluation: A peer-reviewed electronic journal which explain and discuss issues surrounding the use of rubrics in education:

Moskal, Barbara M. (2000). Scoring rubrics: what, when and how?. Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation, 7(3). Retrieved April 8, 2005 from

Mertler, Craig A. (2001). Designing scoring rubrics for your classroom. Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation, 7(25). Retrieved April 8, 2005 from

Moskal, Barbara M. (2003). Recommendations for developing classroom performance assessments and scoring rubrics. Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation, 8(14). Retrieved April 8, 2005 from

Tierney, Robin & Marielle Simon (2004). What's still wrong with rubrics: focusing on the consistency of performance criteria across scale levels. Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation, 9(2). Retrieved April 8, 2005 from

Apart from the above web resources, you might want to explore this book:
Rubrics - A Handbook for Construction and Use
Ed. Taggart, Germaine L., Sandra J. Phifer, Judy A. Nixon and
Marilyn Wood. Lancaster, PA: Technomic Publishing Co., Inc. 1998.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Jane Vella's How Do They Know They Know

One of the books that Dr Lua mentioned in the course of our meetings is How Do They Know They Know : Evaluating Adult Learning (Jossey Bass Higher and Adult Education Series) authored jointly by Jane Vella, Paula Berardinelli, Jim Burrow

Here are some editorial reviews which I picked up from

"Finally, a practical methodology for quantifying training results and organization impact. How Do They Know They Know is a must read for any Human Resources professional with the desire to measure the return on training investment for individuals and for their organization."Challenges the current paradigms about training evaluation and its role in the learning process. This practical, quantitative methodology for measuring training outcomes by calling for instructors and designers to begin with the And in mind. It should be required reading for all professionals in the field of education and development." (Susan DeLuca, director of human resource development, SmithKline Beecham)

"For anyone ever faced with the task of evaluating adult education programs, this book offers an accessible, practical, well researched tool that verifies results for existing or new programs. This is an invaluable tool for all educators who need to prove what knowledge, skills and attitudes have actually been learned through a course." (Sue Button, North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts, Training and Development)

This book offers an excellent method to ensure that your training is effective amd has an impact on your organization. How Do They Know They Know's techniques place the responsibilities on training where it belongs and focuses everyone involved to cooperate to achieve the desired results. Developing training and corresponding measurements focusing on its impact on the organization is an excellent method to ensure good training design. If effective training is important to your organization, How Do They Know They Know is a must. (Clif Melvin, education specialist, Fortune 500 Computer Manufacturer)

"The authors' skills, knowledge and attitudes in evaluation of learning experiences are accessible, informed and personally engaging. This book serves as a working guide for my design and implementation of learning experiences for community workshops to college courses, and leadership training to educational support group facilitation with parents." "This is a short course in deepening Jane Vella's question "How Do They Know They Know?' They just did it! They continue to do it and have convinced their organization to do more of it!" "Accountability! Accountability! Accountability! At last I have found here a usable means to not only 'know they know' during the training, but know what I teach makes a meaningful difference in the learner's work and impacts the organization positively." (Peter Perkins, director, Prevention Unlimited, Inc)

"Books such as this are useful reminders that as the need for training programs or competency-focused curricula grows, the competition also will increase, and the institutions with objective proof of their success will succeed over the long term." (Continuing Higher Education Review)