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ITC Statement of Educational Effectiveness

The Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC) is committed to educate Christian leaders for ministry and service in the Church and the global community. ITC educates and nurtures women and men who commit to and practice a liberating and transforming spirituality; academic discipline; religious, gender, and cultural diversity; and justice and peace.

This is evidenced in the ITC student enrollment and graduation rate of five constituent seminaries. Through these seminaries, an ecumenical environment of high quality is maintained in the delivery of the Master of Divinity degree program and enrollment in its distance education, the Master of Christian Education, the Doctor of Theology, and the Doctor of Ministry degree programs, along with ITC’s growing Certificate of Theology program.

The Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC) evaluates its educational effectiveness through annual unit reviews of its degree programs and analysis of how well students have met the learning outcomes the ITC Faculty Council has established for each degree program. The ITC Enrollment Management and Marketing Team (EMMT-Admissions, Financial Aid, and the Registrar) compile student retention data for ITC determining benchmarks for FTE enrollment. The Sankofa Center for Data Evaluation and Quality Enhancement reports areas for quality enhancement, which is then reviewed by the Institutional Effectiveness/QEP Committee and Faculty Council. Improvements based upon this review are acted upon through the designated institutional standing committee and reported to the ITC Board of Trustees (excluding policy improvements, which are solely trustee decisions).

Degree program reviews are conducted using the logic model for purposes of documenting program learning outcomes, resources needed to achieve outcomes, direct and indirect measures used to connect student performance to learning outcomes, improvements made, and dissemination of those improvements. This process informs key decisions that affect ITC resource allocation and delivery of the programs. The assessment and evaluation of learning outcomes using key performance indicators (e.g., 80% achievement rate on embedded assignments and comprehensive exams, 2.7 or above on a 4-point leadership inventory, capstone project (i.e., thesis) or dissertation ratings, and enrollment data) for each degree program describe the level of quality in faculty, student, and program engagement that advances the ITC mission.

The Master of Divinity (M.Div.) Degree
The Master of Divinity program has five program outcomes (POs) listed in the ITC catalogue to substantiate the integrated curriculum of four discipline areas (Biblical Literature and Languages; History, Ethics and Theology; Persons, Society and Culture, and Church and Its Ministries). Master of Divinity students demonstrate:

  • The ability to understand and use with competence the basic documents of the faith, such as scripture, denominational traditions, etc.;
  • The ability to appropriate Christian scripture and religious heritages and to communicate them orally and in writing in order that others may deepen their relationship with God and their care for God’s creation and for human society, bear witness to their faith and commitment, and live out the gospel in liberating ways in contemporary situations;
  • The ability to counsel and provide leadership in programmatic and administrative areas;
  • The ability to understand in biblical and theological terms the sociological, ideological, and political content of the cultures in which the church ministers; and
  • The ability to practice one or more forms of ministry in an appropriate, professional manner.

The POs are broad competencies that address the curriculum areas of the degree. Student learning outcomes (SLOs) were developed and adopted to specifically determine what students actually learned in the program. The following table reports M.Div. program outcomes linked to SLOs for the 2013-14 academic year. The analysis of student learning in 2013-14 resulted in demonstrating inconsistent measuring of learning outcomes by curriculum areas. Consequently, the decision to measure competencies across the degree rather than in each discipline area produced a reduction in SLOs for the M.Div. degree from 17 outcomes to four.

As an improvement, the revised SLOs reflect those common competencies measured across the curriculum as Storylinking, Critical Thinking, Community Building, and Intrapersonal capacities that are significant learning in the M.Div. degree program:

  • Learn Storylinking Skills – Orally and/or in writing connect Biblical interpretation, cultural heritage, and contemporary issues of moral dilemma, ethics, and philosophy to purpose vocational discernment , Biblical interpretation, historical accounts, religious practice, and church leadership;
  • Use Critical Thinking Skills – Orally and/or in writing detect, interpret, and analyze arguments that decode significance and construct ideas that purpose vocational discernment, Biblical interpretation, historical accounts, religious practice, and church leadership;
  • Apply Community Building Skills – Orally and/or in writing demonstrate tools for planning, implementing, and advocacy of collective engagement in the Church, larger community, and the academy; and
  • Exercise Intrapersonal Skills – Orally and/or in writing express self-articulation, self-examination, and/or self-correction to purpose vocational discernment, Biblical interpretation, cultural responsiveness, and church leadership.

Additional Changes/Improvements
In addition to the change in M.Div. SLOs, two courses (ICAM 834/835 – Elements of Ministry) were revised to include a leadership practicum and a leadership self-inventory. The inconsistency in scoring embedded measures (assignments) resulted in a standardized template for developing syllabi and scoring rubrics for the embedded assignments. Analysis of embedded measures resulted in the incorporation of a writing peer coach component to the required first-semester, first-year course, Foundations for Ministry (IINT 408A), to enhance students’ knowledge of writing styles in theological education at the ITC.

The Master of Arts in Christian (MACE) Degree
The ITC has five POs for its MACE degree:

  • Explore the call to Christian educational ministry and of potential educational ministry vocations for carrying out the call through a variety of forums.
  • Define and describe rationales for cross-disciplinary foundations for educating in faith in Christian religious education tenets that draw from biblical, theological, philosophical, historical, sociocultural, and psychological disciplines while undergirding the sociocultural experiences of the African diaspora.
  • Relate Christian religious educational ministries to the overall mission of the Black Church and global community for the creation of socially just, non-violent, and democratic societies.
  • Present and foster research and design of curricular models for the socioeconomically challenged parish, institution, and global community that respond to relevant needs and concerns within the Church and global community.
  • Communicate and practice dialogical and liberative teaching methods that are sensitive to the diversity of the human experience (multiplicities of intelligences, learning styles, development stages, languages, and cultures).

During the 2013-14 academic year, the MACE degree program had a total of 17 students. Eight students averaged 80% or better on all embedded measures. Eight candidates completed a thesis project with a rating of 80% or better. One candidate is in process of completing the thesis.

The Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) Degree
In March 2013, the D.Min. focus group created its curriculum map as a part of its program review and documented the need to revise its POs to address more specifically the result of the courses, the practical experiences of leadership by its students, and the collegial process required for the dissertation. The following POs were instituted in 2013:

  1. Graduates who have a demonstrated advanced knowledge in the connecting of theory, experience, and professional vocation;
  2. Religious leaders prepared to serve clergy, local churches, denominational judicatories, non-profit agencies, and other specialized ministries (e.g., pastoral care, military chaplaincy);
  3. Faculty and students who collegially and dialogically work together to develop conceptual frameworks and appropriate andragogy, concerning the Africa Diaspora and the global world;
  4. Graduates who advocate diversity, and social and environmental justice, and are able to integrate concern for diversity and justice into a worldview that is open to new ideas, persons, and perspectives, for church, society and the global community; and
  5. Graduates who have conducted original research in the area of concentration, and report results orally and in writing.

Four D.Min. students successfully passed the comprehensive exam. Four candidates successfully completed their dissertations.

The Doctor of Theology (Th.D.) Degree
In 2012, the Th.D. program as part of the Atlanta Theological Association (ATA) reviewed its program outcomes with the ITC Th.D. faculty. This review produced a revised set of four POs for the 2012-13 and 2013-14 academic years. The results from program measures confirmed that these program outcomes would continue as 2014-15 goals/program outcomes:

  1. Students demonstrate an advanced understanding of social constructs such as race, gender, and class, and their bearing on theological and theoretical concepts appropriate to pastoral counseling as a specialized form of ministry.
  2. Students demonstrate that they have learned, under qualified pastoral counseling supervision, practices of a competent reflective practitioner of intercultural pastoral care/counseling.
  3. Students show evidence of their cultivation of the professional integration of theological and psychological reflection through clinical case praxis.
  4. Students design and execute a research project appropriate to their professional practice which gives evidence of their practice of disciplinary generativity in the field of pastoral counseling, ecclesial bodies and non-profit agencies.

From 2012 – 2014, the ATA/Th.D. program had a total of 33 students, four of which are currently enrolled through ITC. Sixty percent (60%) of the students are in the course completion phase of the program and twenty percent (20%) of students have completed two of the program measures as indicated.

The hallmarks of the Interdenominational Theological Center Experience—seminarian self-formation and professional preparation—prepare students to become spiritually grounded individuals who are ready to perform as church, academic, and community leaders in an evolving, complex, and competitive world. Graduates of the ITC function at every judicatory level in the Christian church nationally and globally, civic governance, and community organization. The interdisciplinary nature of the ITC curriculum has produced graduates who have successfully completed master’s level and doctoral studies in Christian Education, Theology, African American Church Studies, and Pastoral Care and Counseling.

The post-graduation status was sought for students who completed the Master of Divinity (M.Div.); dual Master of Divinity and Master of Arts in Church Music (M.Div./MACM); dual Master of Divinity and Master of Arts in Christian Education (M.Div./MACE); Master of Arts in Christian Education (MACE); and the Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) degree programs. Updated information was compiled from data files in the Office of Institutional Advancement, cards completed by graduates at the time of graduation, phone calls, and constituent denominations. The data show the status of the graduates in the following coded categories:

  • PM: Pastoral Ministry
  • OCM: Other Church Ministries with or beyond the local church, denominations (e.g., Music ministry, youth ministry, denominational office, missionary)
  • EOC: Employed Outside the Church (e.g., Self-employed, NGO worker, Secular employment)
  • C/Tchg: Chaplaincy; Teaching in a seminary or religious school
  • PGS: Post-Graduate Study
  • NE: Not Employed or under denominational or church appointment
  • EU: Employment Unknown
  • LU: Location Unknown
  • D: Deceased

The updated results show that in excess of half of the graduates in each of the two most recent classes (52.4% in the 2013 class and 61.4% in the 2014 class) are engaged in pastoral ministry. In each class, an added number (11% in 2013 and 6.2% in 2014) are involved in some form of ministry within the local church. Based on the combined total, approximately two-thirds of the graduates are involved in ministry within the local church (63.4% in the 2013 class and 67.6% in the 2014 class).

Less than ten percent of the graduates are employed outside the church (7.3% in each of the two years), with fewer numbers in chaplaincy or teaching positions in theological education or religious schools (none in 2013 and 3.1% in 2014). The proportion of graduates whose employment is unknown rose from 6.2% among graduates in the most recent year of 2014 to 17% of the graduates in 2013. In both years, the location was unknown for slightly over ten percent of the graduates. One graduate is deceased and received the Doctor of Ministry Degree posthumously in 2014.

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