Connected Campus

2.5 Institutional Effectiveness

 

The institution engages in ongoing, integrated, and institution-wide research-based planning and evaluation processes that (1) incorporate a systematic review of institutional mission, goals, and outcomes; (2) result in continuing improvement in institutional quality; and (3) demonstrate the institution is effectively accomplishing its mission.

 

_X_  Compliance           ___  Partial Compliance          ___  Non-Compliance

 

Narrative

 

Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary (MABTS) engages in systematic, ongoing, integrated, research-based (data-based) annual reviews. A description of its planning and evaluation processes is given that incorporates a systematic review of institutional mission, goals and outcomes which result in continuing improvements in institutional quality. Evidence is given of the school fulfilling its mission effectively through a sustained, documented history of planning evaluation cycles that includes the use of results for improvement to accomplish its mission. MABTS provides appropriate institutional research and budgetary support for assessment programs throughout the institution
and gives evidence that data from various sources concerning the effectiveness of programs and services are being used to make decisions for improvement. The relationship between the effectiveness process and the budget is described as well as the involvement of appropriate internal constituents, external constituents, and stakeholders involved in the planning and assessment process.

 

This process is built upon its philosophy of planning (I.), which is expressed through the strategic planning process (II.) resulting in the school’s institutional effectiveness plan (III.), the institutional effectiveness evaluation process (IV.) and the strategic plan (V.) which culminates in the long-range plan (VI.) that enables the school to fulfill its mission.

 

I. Philosophy of Planning

 

The basis of MABTS’s philosophy of planning is best comprehended and rooted in the school’s history and mission. Once understood, institutional effectiveness within the context of the school’s mission, the measurable expected results based upon the mission, the assessment tools based upon the measurable expected results, the actual results, and the actions taken for future effectiveness serve as a basis for future annual and long range planning.

 

This philosophy of assessment culminates in the development of the long range plan (figure 1) derived through the MABTS Strategic Planning Process model (figure 2) [1], which assumes that assessment will be more effective if developed and monitored by the academic and administrative departmental units providing the instruction or service. Students (residential or distance), faculty, staff, and graduates give input concerning educational programs and administrative and educational support services. 

 

Figure 1. Development of the Long Range Plan

 

History of the School. Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary began in the fall of 1971 as “The School of the Prophets.” A charter was granted by the State of Louisiana. The purpose of the school was to provide theological education for those whom God called to vocational Christian service. By action of the Board of Trustees, the location of the school was changed to Little Rock, Arkansas and the name was changed to Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary. A charter was granted by the State of Arkansas in March 1972; and the first session of classes began with Founders’ Days, August 23-25, 1972. Four professors offered classes to 28 students. The seminary conducted classes for three years in the facilities of Olivet Baptist Church, Little Rock, Arkansas. In 1975, the seminary negotiated the purchase of the Reformed Jewish Temple and Hebrew School located at 1255 Poplar Avenue in Memphis, Tennessee. The seminary conducted classes during the 1975-76 school term in Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee. The purchase of the Temple and Hebrew School was finalized in August 1976, and the seminary moved into the new debt-free facilities in October 1976. In 1982, the seminary purchased the adjoining property at 1257 Poplar, which housed the Ora Byram Allison Memorial Library and an administration building.

 

In 1994, friends of the seminary made available an eight-acre campus in Germantown, Tennessee. The seminary renovated the facilities and in January 1996 moved to the new campus debt free. The campus provided classrooms, offices, library, the chapel, a cafeteria, a gym, bookstore, childcare facilities, lounges, and resource rooms all under one roof. The campus provided a pleasant, welcoming environment for learning. The move to the Germantown campus allowed the seminary to expand its course offerings into the evenings and provide more opportunities for the wives of students to enroll in classes and be involved in seminary life.

 

In 1996, a group of concerned and committed men formed the Mid-America Student Housing Foundation for the purpose of providing student housing. A dear friend of the seminary donated thirty-two acres in Olive Branch, Mississippi, for housing only fifteen minutes from the seminary. The ninety-six units of student housing opened in August 1998.

 

In fall 2003, Mid-America’s next-door neighbor, Methodist Hospital, approached the seminary with an offer to purchase the Germantown campus. After numerous negotiations, Methodist Hospital purchased the campus in December of that year while allowing Mid-America to use the campus for up to four years, rent free, until a new campus could be built. In June 2004, the people of Bellevue Baptist Church, led by their pastor—the late Dr. Adrian Rogers—voted to give Mid-America thirty-five acres of land across Appling Road from Bellevue Baptist Church as Mid-America’s new home. Construction began in spring 2005 and was completed in August 2006, in time for Founders’ Days and the beginning of the 2006 fall term. Soon after Mid-America received the gift of land, sixteen additional acres of land was purchased adjacent to the Appling Road property as the site for Mid-America’s student housing. Construction of student housing was conducted concurrently with the campus construction and was also completed by fall 2006.

 

From the beginning of Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary, the administration and faculty have desired to establish a Bible-believing, Bible-preaching, Bible teaching, soul-winning branch campus in the northeastern part of the United States. Since 1983, the seminary has actively pursued this dream. In 1987, the Northeast Branch was approved by the Board of Regents of the State University of New York to offer the Master of Divinity degree. The seminary purchased ten acres in the heart of the Capital District in the State of New York in February 1988, constructed a 15,400 square foot building, and started classes in the fall of 1989. The focus of the Northeast Branch is to train pastors for evangelism and planting Southern Baptist churches throughout this heavily populated and strategic area of America [2].

 

Mission Statement. MABTS has a purpose appropriate to higher education as well as to its own specific educational role. The seminary’s primary purpose is to provide graduate theological training, which is appropriate to higher education. The distinctives of the seminary, including a focus on missions, evangelism, and the Bible, are also reflected in the “Statement of Purpose.” The seminary’s purpose statement addresses all components of institutional purpose found in the Catalog and other documents published by the seminary.

 

The primary components of the institution’s purpose are addressed in the first paragraph of the “Statement of Purpose,” which reads: “Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary is a school whose primary purpose is to provide graduate and undergraduate theological training for effective service in church-related vocations through its main campus and designated branch campuses. Other levels of training also are offered” [3]. The seminary’s purpose represents both the official posture and the practice of the institution. This is reflected in that all appropriate seminary publications reflect accurately the seminary’s purpose. When the official purpose statement was developed at the inception of the seminary, it involved faculty, administrators, and the trustees. Accordingly, it was approved by the Board of Trustees. With the exception of minor technical changes, such as updating the names of the degrees offered, the “Statement of Purpose” has remained virtually constant since its adoption by the Board of Trustees. The statement is reviewed annually by the faculty, administration, and trustees. Because neither internal changes nor changing responsibilities of the seminary to its constituencies have occurred, the “Statement of Purpose” has undergone little change.

 

That the purpose of the seminary is appropriate to its educational programs and role is evident in the “Statement of Purpose” itself. For instance, the statement notes that the “primary purpose is to provide graduate and undergraduate theological training for effective service in church-related vocations.” Further, while the seminary seeks to expose students to different theological systems, it does so in a wholly evangelical atmosphere. This evangelical emphasis is seen in the seminary’s stance on the Bible, evangelism, and missions.

 

II. The Strategic Planning Process

The seminary realizes that the commitment to annual and long range planning is a good start but a poor finish in the task of assessment. The logical extension of a comprehensive philosophy of planning is a process which is broad-based, multi-faceted, on-going, and self-correcting which “closes the loop” in the praxis of education. 

 

Seminary planning begins with the 5 level strategic plan model (figure 2). This process results in the executive administration’s institutional effectiveness plan, which culminates in the MABTS long-range plan discussed in section VI (figure 1). 

 

Figure 2. MABTS Strategic Planning Process Model

 

 

Level 1- Individual Planning. In accordance with planning philosophy, MABTS’s strategic planning begins in August when classes begin. Information is gathered and assessed from class evaluations, surveys, forums, and financial assessment.

 

  • Course Evaluations. Students taking classes for academic credit fill out a Course Evaluation form [4] for each class taken. This Likert Scale data is recorded by the Director of Information Services and the personal comments are recorded by faculty secretaries before being sent to the Office of the Academic Vice-President. The information is then sent to the professor, academic department chairpersons, and the Academic Vice President for initial and review. It is then compiled into a report to be reviewed by the Executive Administration Committee during summer planning meetings.
  • Surveys and Forums. Each student, staff member, and faculty member fills out a Survey Form [5] and attends seminary-wide forum meetings [6] during March and April. The Likert Scale data and forum comments are recorded by the Director of Information Services and the personal comments are recorded by the faculty secretary’s office before being sent to the Office of the Director of Institutional Assessment, who then compiles the information and submits it for review by the Executive Administration Committee during summer planning meetings.
  • PLOAMs/AUGs. Each program degree coordinator completes a Program Learning Outcomes Assessment Model (PLOAM) which becomes a basis of the Institutional Assessment Committee Annual Report. Administrative directors complete Administrative Unit Goals (AUG) which become a basis for the Institutional Assessment Committee Annual Report at level 2 planning (see table 2).
  • Financial Assessment. The Vice-President for Finance and Operations begins the assessment process by distributing a copy of the previous fiscal year’s budget to all budget directors of the seminary in November [7]. After he meets with each director to discuss the next fiscal year's budget, a new budget worksheet is presented to the Executive Administration Committee before the Trustee Meeting in the spring, when the budget is approved. The Vice-President for Finance and Operations also takes an assessment of the campus and notes any improvements needing to be made for the upcoming year.

 

Level 2- Departmental Planning. The seminary’s strategic planning process continues by gathering and assessing information on departmental reviews of faculty and staff, and information reported to the trustees for the spring meeting.

 

  • Departmental Reviews. Each faculty and staff member is reviewed by his or her immediate supervisor. These performance reviews for faculty [8] and staff [9] are signed by both supervisor and supervisee and then sent to either the Executive Vice President or the Academic Vice President. These reviews are used, in part, as a basis for making decisions on teaching contracts and administrative assignments. They are compiled into a report to be reviewed by the Executive Administration Committee during summer planning meetings.
     
  • Institutional Assessment Committee Annual Report. In preparation for the bi-annual trustee meeting, the director of Institutional Assessment prepares a report on relevant data for office reports.
     
  • Annual Report to the Trustees. Each EAC member prepares and presents an office report at the bi-annual trustee meeting.

 

Level 3- Executive Administration Planning. Once departmental planning is complete, each Vice President (except for the Vice President of Finance and Operations who compiles a report for level 4 planning) compiles a report to be reviewed by the Executive Administration before budget planning and finalization of the annual Strategic Plan. This planning serves as a basis for finalizing the next year’s annual budget (Level 4) and the annual report presented to the Trustees (Level 5).

 

  • Academic Vice President. The Academic Vice President collects student class evaluations, faculty departmental reviews, and academic unit strategic plans to be used in budget planning. This is compiled and later used in budget preparation and is included in the annual report.
  • Executive Vice President. The Executive Vice President collects information from annual staff forums, surveys, and administrative unit strategic plans to be used in budget planning. This is compiled and later used in budget preparation and is included in the annual report.
  • Director of Institutional Assessment. The Director of Institutional Assessment collects information from committees to be used in budget planning. This is compiled and later used in budget preparation and is included in the annual report.
  • Department/Chair Review. The head of each academic/administrative department prepares a review of academic/administrative personnel. These reviews are used later in budget preparation and are included in the annual report.

 

Level 4- Budget Planning/Timeline. MABTS’s budgeting processes are described in the 2014-15 MABTS Employee Handbook [10]. Each year, departmental budget directors use assessment results to document requested increases in its budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Coupled with the President’s long-range plan, a 5-year budget and finance projection is also given to the EAC for planning purposes. Assessment results play a role in budget development when the Vice Presidents analyze all department/unit budget requests and make final recommendations to the Executive Administration Committee. A timeline of the budgeting process and finalization of the budget is as follows:

 

1) Review the budget request form on which the request will be made and give instructions for completion including any required supplemental documentation.

 

2) Give instruction that requests are to be made in accordance with objectives and initiatives                       contained in the department’s strategic plan.

 

3) Give instruction that forms are provided for each employee under the budget director’s                           supervision for input regarding budget needs.

 

4) Question and answer period.

 

  • November 1- EAC meets to discuss driving forces of coming fiscal year’s budget including salaries and benefits and other personnel issues, non-discretionary expenses, critical facility maintenance, etc.
     
  • November 1-December 15- Vice President for Finance and Operations (VPFO) drafts initial broad parameter budget based on driving forces, discussion in EAC meeting on November 1 and other factors. The President and VPFO make initial allocation of Program Expense funds among EAC members.
     
  • January 10- EAC meets to review and discuss initial broad parameter budget and program expense allocations.
     
  • January 15- Instructional meeting for all budget directors. The Business office distributes Budget Request forms, gives instructions for completion and YTD expense information.

    Agenda for meeting:

  • January 15-31- Budget directors meet with employees under their supervision and invite input regarding the budget needs for upcoming fiscal year in conjunction with the department’s documented strategic plans.
     
  • January 31- Budget directors return budget packets to the Business Office which serves as a clearing house. Requests are catalogued and packaged for return to the appropriate EAC member.
     
  • February 7- The EAC meets to receive packaged requests for budgets under their supervision. Instructions are given regarding individual meetings with budget directors, allocating program expense funds and deadline for return.
     
  • February 7-21- EAC members meet with individual budget directors to discuss requests, gather necessary information and to allocate program expense funds.
     
  • February 21- Meeting of the EAC to return completed initial program expense allocations by department, discuss shortfalls, unfunded initiatives, use and prioritization of any contingency funds and negotiations for adjustments in budget levels.
     
  • March 1- The EAC recommended budget final draft is completed and mailed to the Board of Trustees.
     
  • Late March- The VPFO presents EAC recommended budget to the Board of Trustees at the annual meeting. The budget is approved or adjusted accordingly.

 

Level 5- Planning Outcome (Closing the Loop, Part 1). The seminary’s strategic planning process is finalized as the Executive Administration committee (EAC) meets, guided by the Vice President for Finance and Operations, to finalize the budget for the upcoming academic year. Based upon the Long Range Plan, the Strategic Plan of the previous academic year, and the budget for the upcoming year, the EAC revises a five column strategic plan before presenting it to the Board of Trustees for approval. The annual seminary-wide strategic plan, the budget, and office reports are then presented to the Board of Trustees at their spring meeting. Once approved, the budget and strategic plan are implemented and serves as a basis for the planning process for the next academic year, thus, closing the loop in the planning process. The long-range plan devised by the President and the 5-year budget and finance projection produced by the Vice President for Finance and Operations serve as a compass for future strategic planning.

 

III. Institutional Effectiveness Plan (5 Column Models)

 

The MABTS Institutional Effectiveness Plan consists of five elements:

 

1. its mission,
2. the measurable expected results on which the success of that mission will be judged,
3. the assessment tools that are used to measure results,
4. the actual assessment results, and
5. the actions taken or resources needed to address issues that have surfaced in the assessment process.

 

This plan is further developed through the school’s Program Learning Outcomes Assessment Model (PLOAMs) and the Administrative Unit Goals (AUGs) demonstrated in this narrative.

 

As seen in the 2014-15 MABTS Institutional Effectiveness Plan model (see table 1) and the actual plan itself [11], the seminary has provided evidence of improvements within its educational programs and its administrative and educational support services based on analysis of assessment results. These examples demonstrate significant improvements based upon the results of assessment.

 

The seminary employs a multi-faceted methodology to systematically identify whether the mission of the institution is being accomplished. Processes include both academic (see Comprehensive Standard 3.3.1.1) and administrative (see Comprehensive Standard 3.3.1.2-5) assessment tools. The process begins with identification of expected outcomes, measurement of those outcomes through several data streams and evaluation of outcomes in context of the next academic year. The process continues by determining whether outcomes were met and by the use of outcomes in context of the next academic year. 

 

MABTS Institutional Effectiveness Plan

2014-2015 Model

Purpose & Goals

 

Mission Statement

Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary is to provide undergraduate and graduate theological training for effective service in church-related and mission vocations through its main campus and branch campuses.

 

Goal Statement

The goals of Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary are:

 

To teach the Bible as the verbally inspired Word of God, wholly without error as originally given by God, and sufficient as our rule of faith and practice;

 

To maintain high academic standards and reverent scholarship;

 

To teach that people should be faithful in the Lord’s service through local churches;

 

To train people to do evangelism at home and abroad.

Expected Outcome

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Assessment Criteria

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Assessment Results

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Use of Results

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Table 1. 2014-15 MABTS Institutional Effectiveness Plan Model

 

Columns 1-3

 

The planning process begins with the identification of expected outcomes (academic and administrative) and continues with the measurement of those outcomes through several data streams. These outcomes are then evaluated in context of improving the mission of the school and are either adopted, adapted, or abandoned for the next academic year.

 

Identification of Expected Outcomes

 

MABTS’s approach to assessment of expected outcomes is campus-wide, participatory, decentralized, and based upon the Strategic Planning model [1]. This philosophy of assessment is based upon the assumption that assessment will be more effective if developed and monitored by the academic and administrative departmental units. Students, faculty, staff, and graduates give input concerning outcomes through annual surveys [12] and forums [13], the MABTS program learning outcomes assessment model (PLOAMs) and the administrative unit goals model (AUGs) (see table 2). The institution addresses the planning process by demonstrating expected outcomes. Institutional effectiveness focuses on the design and improvement of outcomes which enhance the operation of the school and classroom experience.

 

The planning process is best understood by first considering its history and the methodological design it employs. A description of the PLOAMs and the procedure for their measurement and data collection help in constructing clearly defined and measurable outcomes, which ultimately leads to evidence of improvement.

 

History of the Process

 

In the 2013-14 academic year, the institution improved a seven-phase design begun in 2005 for producing clearer and broader Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs) as a result of the response by SACSCOC to an interim 5th year report. The Christian Education department devised an assessment prototype and reported findings back to the Academic Council. They, in turn, directed the Dean of the Masters and Undergraduate programs to train all degree program coordinators in producing SLOs and identifying specific assessment criteria. All degree program coordinators then met with their departments to produce SLOs based upon the prototype given to them. They were then asked to submit the new SLOs and assessment criteria reviewed by departmental and outside reviewers. These data were analyzed by the Director of Institutional Assessment and given back to the degree program coordinators who then completed columns 4 and 5 (Assessment Results and Use of Results) of the Program Learning Outcomes Assessment Models (PLOAMs). As a result of implementing this process, the school was notified by SACSCOC that this process was acceptable for determining that the institution identifies expected outcomes, assesses the achievement of those outcomes, and gives evidence of improvement based on stated results for educational programming [14].

 

Phase One – Academic Council. The Academic Council met on September 20, 2013 to begin a discussion on new ways of improved assessment for educational programming based upon SACSCOC Comprehensive Standard 3.3.1.1 [15]. The Academic Council is comprised of the Executive Vice President, Academic Vice President, the Dean of the Doctor of Philosophy Program, the Dean of the Doctor of Ministry Program, the Dean of the Masters and Undergraduate Programs, and the Director of Institutional Assessment.

 

Phase Two – Prototype Production. Dr. Seal (Academic Vice President) tasked two of the Academic Council members, Drs. Thompson and Bickley, with creating a prototype to be used in all academic departments. Dr. Bickley, the Master of Arts in Christian Education (MACE) degree program coordinator, met with the Christian Education faculty (Drs. Thompson and Hickman) in room L108 on September 18, 2013, and the team formulated six SLOs in their PLOAM (Column 2) by reviewing the goal statement for the degree (Column 1) in the 2013-14 Catalog, and by using the Bloom’s Cognitive Taxonomy verb list, course descriptions, and course syllabi. Upon completion of the prototype, Drs. Thompson and Bickley met with the Academic Council to discuss using the process in all academic departments.

 

Phase Three – Degree Program Coordinator Training/Departmental Meetings. Dr. Kirk Kilpatrick, Dean of the Masters and Undergraduate programs, was tasked to instruct each degree program coordinator in the process of defining student learning outcomes (SLOs) (Column 2), and to identify assessment criteria (Column 3) with their departmental faculty. During the month of October, he met with the department program coordinators for training.  They were encouraged to begin with the goal statement of their program (Column 1 - Purpose and Goals), and to review the complete list of required courses for their degree and corresponding syllabi. Once they reviewed these items, they were encouraged to use action verbs provided from Bloom’s Cognitive Taxonomy to craft the succinct statements which would emphasize assessable student learning outcomes based upon the degree program curriculum. In like manner, each degree program coordinator met within their departments and sought to strengthen the stated SLOs.

 

Phase Four – Submission of New SLOs and Assessment Criteria. Upon completion of updated SLOs and assessment criteria, the program coordinators submitted degree program PLOAMs to the Director of Institutional Assessment with column 1 (Purpose and Goals), column 2 (Student Learning Outcomes), and column 3 (Assessment Criteria) completed during the first week of November 2013. She, in turn, compiled all artifacts (work product) corresponding to each degree program in a spreadsheet and submitted it to the Dean of the Masters and Undergraduate program for review. He then made minor revisions to the spreadsheet in artifacts to be used [16] and met with all faculty whose classes would be used as a basis for assessment criteria in improving student learning outcomes.

 

Phase Five – Rubric Production and Artifact Collection. To aid departmental faculty, the academic council produced two generic rubrics – one for papers [17] and one for projects [18] during the second week of November 2013. A rubric for presentations was discussed, but the idea was abandoned because of the difficulty in reviewing a course requirement so diverse. Faculty were encouraged to personalize rubrics to fit particular course content. Upon completion of the rubric, the Dean of the Masters and Undergraduate programs (Dr. Kilpatrick) discussed and trained the faculty in the use and grading of both rubrics during the last scheduled faculty meeting of the year in December 2013. He also discussed the process of submitting rubrics and how they would be used for departmental and peer review. Faculty were asked to send in two ungraded copies of the students’ papers (or written copies of projects) to the office of the Academic Vice President at the conclusion of the 2013 fall semester. The administrative assistant for the Academic Vice President collected all the items and prepared them for dissemination to the departmental and peer reviewers.

 

Phase Six – Departmental and Peer Review. On January 24, 2014, the departmental and peer review personnel met in the Betty Howard Special Events Room of MABTS at 8:30 a.m. A light breakfast was served and a brief time of instruction was conducted before the peer review process began at 9:00 a.m. Drs. Seal and Kilpatrick assigned each faculty member artifacts to score with either a project or paper rubric. Some artifacts were scored within the department and others were peer reviewed by faculty outside their department. The identity of each student was removed from each artifact to prevent scoring bias and a Likert scale instrument was used. The scores were then transferred to a tally sheet for the analysis of findings. The last rubrics were scored by 1:00 p.m.

 

Phase Seven – Analysis of Findings. All artifacts, with the rubrics attached, were scanned and saved in .pdf format. The Director of Institutional Assessment (Dr. Bickley) created a spreadsheet with tabs according to each degree program, and on each degree program tab, the percentage of scores for each rubric row was delineated. The findings results were then emailed to all degree program coordinators on February 24, 2014, wherein they were encouraged to fill in Column 4 (Assessment Results) and Column 5 (Use of Results) on their degree program PLOAMs. The degree program coordinators were also asked to return their finalized PLOAMs to Dr. Bickley by March 3, 2014, who then used the data as source material for this narrative. Part of the data analysis was a comparison of 2011-12 SLOs to the updated 2013-14 SLOs, based upon this seven-step process.

 

This initial seven-phase process served as a prototype for the current two-phase, six stage process described below.

 

Methodological Design

 

The institution uses a planning methodology with an appropriate balance of direct and indirect assessment measures built upon the PLOAM and AUG. The seminary’s plan to continuously improve the model is illustrated below according to the mission of the institution (column 1), the expected outcomes based upon its mission (column 2), the assessment criteria based upon the expected outcomes (column 3), the assessment results based upon assessment criteria (column 4), and the use of results based upon assessment results (column 5). This model is effective in the identification, differentiation, and accessibility of expected outcomes. A description of the two-phase, six stage PLOAM is followed by an explanation of the measurement and data process.

 

Program Learning Outcomes Assessment Model (PLOAM) / Administrative Unit Goals (AUGs)

2014-2015

Purpose & Goals

 

Mission Statement

Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary is to provide undergraduate and graduate theological training for effective service in church-related and mission vocations through its main campus and branch campuses.

 

Goal Statement

 

Expected Outcome

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Assessment Criteria

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Assessment Results

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Use of Results

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Table 2. PLOAM/AUG

 

Description of the Program Learning Outcomes Assessment Model (PLOAM)

 

At the end of each academic year, the purpose and goals (column 1) in the five-column model are reviewed, including the mission statement and the goal statement of the seminary. These are reexamined by the executive administration and trustees of the school during summer planning meetings and reaffirmed or changed. The expected outcomes (column 2) are reviewed by program coordinators for each degree program, and are evaluated based upon performance from the previous academic year. Program coordinators then formulate departmental assessment criteria (column 3) and show results of assessment (column 4) at the end of the academic year. The use of results (column 5) closes the loop in presenting student learning outcomes as it informs the purpose and goals (column 1) for the upcoming academic year.

           

The MABTS Program Learning Outcomes Assessment Model (PLOAM) is a six step planning model which provides the institution with a means of assessment of student learning outcomes. The model and process begins annually (column 1A) with the Trustees as they meet bi-annually in August. As part of their agenda they review and reaffirm the mission statement of the seminary [19]. Based upon this reaffirmation or change in mission, the school then begins to plan student learning outcomes for the upcoming academic year. 

 

Phase One – Columns 1A, 1B, and 2. During faculty in-service, the week before the academic year begins in August, the Academic Vice President meets with the academic council (all academic program deans and director of Institutional Assessment) to discuss the reaffirmation or change in the mission statement (column 1A) in conjunction with the fall trustee meeting. After reviewing the institutional mission with the academic council, each program dean (PhD, DMin, Masters, and Undergraduate) then meets with their department chairman during faculty in-service and tasks them with formulating a goal statement (column 1B) for their respective departments based upon the PLOAM. These goal statements serve as a basis for student learning outcomes.

 

After meeting with the Academic Vice President, the department chairmen meet during faculty in-service with program coordinators (PhD, DMin, MDiv, MCE, MACE, MMICS, ADiv/AAS, ACE) to create expected student learning outcomes (column 2) for departments within each of the four programs. Careful consideration is given to constructing these expected outcomes and departmental goals are reviewed by the academic council to insure they are both connected to the mission statement of the seminary and are measurable. Columns 1A, 1B, and 2 are created during in-service week before classes begin for the academic year.

 

Phase 2 – Column 3, 4, and 5. After graduation in May, program coordinators begin collecting data as a source of assessment criteria (column 3). They consult the office of the Registrar, individual professors, and academic and administrative offices for supporting documents to assess the measurement of student learning outcomes. As a result of this analysis, program coordinators determine whether assessment criteria for student learning outcomes were met or not, and results are then displayed as assessment results (column 4). Program coordinators then use the achievement or failure of assessment criteria for the use of results (column 5) and in devising student learning outcomes for the next academic year. Trustees then use the success or failure of these outcomes as a basis for adoption or revision of the mission statement in their bi-annual meeting, which closes the loop in the planning and assessment of student learning outcomes for the institution.

 

Description of the Administrative Unit Goals Model (AUG)

 

At the end of each academic year, the purpose and goals (column 1) in the five-column model are reviewed, including the mission statement and the goal statement of the seminary. These are reexamined by the executive administration and trustees of the school during summer planning meetings and reaffirmed or changed. The expected outcomes (column 2) are reviewed by departmental personnel, and are evaluated based upon performance from the previous academic year. Departmental personnel then formulate departmental assessment criteria (column 3) and show results of assessment (column 4) at the end of the academic year. The use of results (column 5) closes the loop in presenting administrative support outcomes as it informs the purpose and goals (column 1) for the upcoming academic year.

           

The MABTS Administrative Unit Goal model (AUG) is a six step planning model which provides the institution with a means of assessment of administrative support outcomes. The model and process begins annually (column 1A) with the Trustees as they meet bi-annually in August. As part of their agenda they review and reaffirm the mission statement of the seminary [19]. Based upon this reaffirmation or change in mission, the school then begins to plan administrative support outcomes for the upcoming academic year. 

 

Phase One – Columns 1A, 1B, and 2. During administrative in-service, two weeks before the academic year begins in August, the Executive Vice President meets with the administrative council (all administrative directors and the director of Institutional Assessment) to discuss the reaffirmation or change in the mission statement (column 1A) in conjunction with the fall trustee meeting. After reviewing the institutional mission with the administrative council, each administrative director formulates a goal statement (column 1B) for their respective departments based upon the AUG. These goal statements serve as a basis for administrative support outcomes.

 

After meeting with the Executive Vice President, the administrative directors create measurable administrative support outcomes (column 2) for their area being careful to connect them to the mission of the seminary. Columns 1A, 1B, and 2 are created during in-service week before classes begin for the academic year.

 

Phase 2 – Column 3, 4, and 5. After graduation in May, administrative departmental directors receive data from the office of Institutional Assessment which is used as a basis of assessment criteria (column 3). As a result of this analysis, departmental directors determine whether assessment criteria for administrative support outcomes were met or not, and results are then displayed as assessment results (column 4). Departmental directors then use the achievement or failure of assessment criteria for the use of results (column 5) and in devising outcomes for the next academic year. Trustees then use the success or failure of these outcomes as a basis for adoption or revision of the mission statement in their bi-annual meeting, which closes the loop in the planning and assessment of administrative outcomes for the institution.

 

Measurement and Data

 

Achievement of student learning outcomes is expressed in the MABTS Program Learning Outcomes Model (PLOAM) data streams: 1) classroom assignments and educational software, 2) field experience, 3) student evaluations, 4) a capstone and/or comprehensive examination, 5) rubrics/peer review, 6) faculty, staff, student forums, 7) faculty, staff, student surveys, 8) departmental administrative initiatives, and 9) the grievance process.

 

Classroom Assignments and Educational Software. According to individual course syllabi, completion of classroom assignments are used as a measurement of student learning [20]. Term papers, learning portfolios, oral presentations, and practicums are used to demonstrate learning. Students are also required to purchase language and Bible software and demonstrate proficient use through classroom assignments.

 

As an example, during faculty in-service, the academic council reviewed a syllabus audit for the 2011-12 academic year and discovered that less than half of all classes taught (45%) required a term paper. As a result, these findings were discussed in plenary session and a decision was made to require either a term paper, portfolio or a presentation in every class taught, as a demonstration of student learning outcomes.

 

Field Experience. As demonstrated on page 61 of the 2014-15 MABTS Catalog, “students are expected to fulfill the biblical command to witness and thus are required to meet mission assignments each week, share their faith, and report on the work completed. This linking of the classroom to the practical aspects of ministry and evangelistic zeal is one of the unique identities of Mid­America.” This field experience known as the Practical Missions program is a demonstration of student learning outcomes in that it provides a praxis for classroom learning. Every student must complete this field experience assignment to receive academic credit for coursework [21]. 

 

Student Evaluations. Each year, perception data is collected from students through course evaluations and forums. Question 14 on this form states, “this course made a significant contribution to my overall theological/ministry preparation” [4].  

 

Capstone and/or Comprehensive Examinations. A capstone experience and comprehensive examinations are used to determine student learning outcomes. Non-doctoral degrees require a capstone examination (pre and post degree) to measure student learning [22]. Students are tested on degree specific areas.

 

Doctoral students (PhD, DMin) must pass a written comprehensive examination for every seminar taken in the program (eight examinations for PhD and six examinations for DMin [23]) and an oral examination conducted by the doctoral committee. The written examinations are based upon questions concerning course material and must be completed without using outside sources. Doctoral students must pass at least half of their comprehensive examinations (PhD must pass four of eight and DMin must past three of six) in order to continue in the program. If a written comprehensive examination is failed the student must take the seminar again and retake the exam. The oral examination must receive a passing grade for the student to advance to candidate status [24].

 

Rubrics/Peer Review. At the conclusion of fall and spring semesters, designated faculty gather to review course artifacts (papers and projects) in relation to rubrics devised for assessment. Some artifacts are scored within the department and others are peer reviewed by faculty outside their department. The identity of each student is removed from each artifact to prevent scoring bias and a Likert scale instrument is used [17 and 18]. The scores are then transferred to a tally sheet [25] for the analysis of findings. Achievement of administrative support outcomes are expressed in four MABTS Administrative Unit Goal model (AUG) data streams: 1) faculty, staff, student forums, 2) faculty, staff, student surveys, 3) departmental administrative initiatives illustrated in column 3 of the AUGs, and 4) the grievance process.

 

Faculty, Staff, Student Forums. According to faculty, staff, and student forums, responses by constituents are used as a measurement of administrative support outcomes [13]. During the spring semester of each year, the institutional assessment office administers a school-wide forum to assess thoughts and attitudes of faculty, staff, and students on administrative topics (e.g. mission of the school, facilities, academic programming, administrative departments) [13]. As an example, during the 2013-14 academic year, complaints from faculty, staff, and students indicated the institution’s food service was substandard [26]. As a result, these findings were discussed by the Executive Administration Committee (EAC) of the school and the VP for Finance and Operations was tasked to find a suitable alternative, as a demonstration of achieving successful administrative support outcomes. The solution to this complaint is given later in the narrative.

 

Faculty, Staff, Student Surveys. According to faculty, staff, and student surveys, responses by constituents are used as a measurement of administrative support outcomes [13]. During the spring semester of each year, the institutional assessment office administers a school-wide survey to assess thoughts and attitudes of faculty, staff, and students on administrative topics (e.g. mission of the school, facilities, academic programming, administrative departments) [13]. As an example, during the 2014-15 academic year, faculty, staff, and students indicated a desire to focus administrative resources on the improvement of student writing (discussed later in the 2.12 Quality Enhancement Plan) [27]. This data was used by the academic council and later the faculty as a source of devising the school’s QEP.

 

Departmental Administrative Initiatives. Each year, administrative directors demonstrate initiatives within their own departments (column 3) as a means of assessment criteria. For example, on the 2014-15 Administrative Unit Goals for the Campus Life office [28], the assessment criteria 1b. states, “At least 70 percent of all students will “strongly agree” or “agree” that enough affordable student housing is available (see Student Survey Q101).” The assessment result in column 4 demonstrated achievement for the office’s initiatives.

 

The Grievance Process. If a need arises, faculty, students, and staff have an avenue for filing a grievance [29]. Any grievance not answered to his/her satisfaction may be presented to the immediate supervisor or seminary employee in writing. If the student, faculty, or staff is not satisfied with the response of the immediate supervisor, the grievance may be presented to the next level of review in writing and in company with the immediate supervisor. If the grievant is still not satisfied with this level of review, he/she may present the grievance in writing to the Academic Vice President or Executive Vice President. The decision of the Academic Vice President or Executive Vice President, in consultation with the executive administration, will be final [30]. An example of this process as expressed in an academic and honor code grievance is given in the narrative for Federal Requirement 4.5.

 

IV. Institutional Effectiveness Evaluation Process (Columns 4-5)

 

At the end of the academic year, administrative and academic departmental directors receive data (see below) from the office of Institutional Assessment which is used as a basis of assessment criteria (column 3). As a result of this analysis, directors determine whether assessment criteria for outcomes were met or not, and results are then displayed as assessment results (column 4). Departmental directors then use the achievement or failure of assessment criteria for the use of results (column 5) and in devising outcomes for the next academic year. Trustees then use the success or failure of these outcomes as a basis for adoption or revision of the mission statement in their bi-annual meeting, which closes the loop in the planning and assessment of administrative outcomes for the institution.

 

Survey Data. Each student, staff member, and faculty member fills out a Survey Form [5 and 6] during March and April. These data are collected by the Director of Institutional Assessment, who compiles the information and submits it for review by the Executive Administration Committee during summer planning meetings. Sample questions concerning the planning and evaluation process of the institution include:

 

Faculty Survey Question 3. Student evaluations satisfactorily measure the quality and effectiveness of instruction (66.67% agree or strongly agree).

 

Faculty Survey Question 4. The faculty performance evaluation procedure provides an accurate assessment of the quality and effectiveness of my work (66.67% agree or strongly agree).

 

Faculty Survey Question 88. Major planning and goals for the seminary are led and supported by the top leadership of the school: Board of Trustees, President, and the President's Cabinet (86.66% agree or strongly agree).

 

Faculty Survey Question 89. Major plans for the seminary advisedly involve the appropriate faculty, staff, and other constituencies in the formulation and implementation of such plans (73.33% agree or strongly agree).

 

Faculty Survey Question 90. The major planning processes of the seminary include outlined responsibilities for all individuals or groups involved in the fulfillment of their responsibilities (86.67% agree or strongly agree).

 

Faculty Survey Question 107. This survey allows for clear and adequate evaluation (86.67% agree or strongly agree).

 

Staff Survey Question 3. The budget planning and preparation process of the seminary adequately includes each segment of the seminary community (76% agree or strongly agree).

 

Staff Survey Question 74. I am satisfied with the seminary’s performance evaluation policies (68% agree or strongly agree).

 

V. The Strategic Plan (Closing the Loop)

 

As a result of the strategic planning process (level 4), the executive administration in consultation with the board of trustees produces the institutional effectiveness plan (level 5) for the upcoming academic year thus closing the loop in the planning process. The annual institutional effectiveness plan for previous years (2006-2015) demonstrates initiatives and improvements to the institution resulting from the planning process. In addition to those previously noted, examples of the school accomplishing its mission are as follows:

 

Service to Community. Practical Missions data demonstrates student’s service to the community in over sixty-four ministry sites [31]. Each full-time student (four to five courses per semester) must complete two mission assignments per week during the term. Each part-time student (one to three courses per semester) must complete one mission assignment per week during the term. A mission assignment consists of approximately one hour of ministry time and normally provides the student with the opportunity to present a gospel witness. Practical mission work is an extension of what the student learns in the classroom. Students are expected to fulfill the biblical command to witness and thus are required to meet mission assignments each week, share their faith, and report on the work completed. This linking of the classroom to the practical aspects of ministry and evangelistic zeal is one of the unique identities of MABTS.

 

Graduate Surveys. Surveys are mailed to former students two years after they graduate. This perception data indicates attitudes concerning effectiveness of academic and vocational preparation. These surveys continually demonstrate that the seminary is accomplishing its mission in the eyes of its graduates [32].

 

This systematic review of programs and services, as shown by the processes above, results in continuing improvement and demonstrates that the institution is effectively accomplishing its mission. This accomplishment is based upon identifying expected outcomes within educational programs and administrative departments, assessing whether those outcomes were achieved, and providing evidence of improvement based upon analysis. 

 

Academic Improvements/Initiatives. Since moving to the current campus in 2006, the seminary has made improvements and started new initiatives in accomplishing its mission. Samples of these are listed below:

 

  •       Successfully migrated from quarter (2 credit hour classes) to semester (3 credit hour classes)
  •       Created cohort model for doctor of ministry students
  •       Realigned all master level core classes (first 30 hours)
  •       Created non-residential (mini-term) program for Master of Divinity degree
  •       Redesigned class week (Tuesday through Friday to Tuesday through Thursday)
  •       Redesigned chapel schedule (Tuesday through Friday to Tuesday/Thursday)
  •       Updated institutional software (Univers to SonisWeb)
  •       Created Bachelor of Arts in Christian Studies program
  •       Created Online Degree Program
  •       Instituted the Biblical Counseling track in Master of Divinity program
  •       Instituted nomenclature change (MCE/MMICS to MDiv in Christian Education, MDiv in Missions)
  •       Instituted the use of rubrics in assessment process
  •       Created peer review process

 

Administrative Improvements/Initiatives. Since moving to the current campus in 2006, the seminary has made improvements and started new initiatives in accomplishing its mission. Samples of these are listed below:

 

  •       Redesigned seminary website
  •       Instituted weekly directors/calendar meeting
  •       Instituted monthly budget directors meeting (cost control/analysis)
  •       Began weekly communications meetings
  •       Started offering graduate surveys online
  •       Instituted staff in-service
  •       Instituted quarterly staff chapel
  •       Began alumni newsletter
  •       Began offering online resources in the library
  •       Started a golf tournament for development (donors)
  •       Created wireless campus with improved IT
  •       Created ambassadors program in admissions office
  •       Updated financial software in the business office
  •       Began offering installment tuition plan for students
  •       Increased campus life events and initiatives (fall festival, spring picnic, movie night, study nights, laptop purchase plan, etc.)

 

VI. The Long Range Plan

The long range plan of MABTS is a living document, updated as a part of the ongoing mission, evaluation, program projection, budget projection, and operation of the school that focuses on future improvement of the institution. Changing needs among the MABTS constituency are also factored into the formulation of the MABTS long range plan. The 2014-15 long range plan included the following:

 

Purpose. The purpose of MABTS is academic training for people who have experienced a call to ministry. The institution focuses on the roles of pastor, church staff leader, and missionary. With each focus area the school teaches (1) the Bible as the verbally inspired Word of God, (2) evangelism training and practice, and (3) cross cultural missions.

 

Academic Programming. Will initiate online degree in fall 2015 (recently approved by SACSCOC) to supplement residential offerings. Enrollment growth projected at 2-3%.  

 

Faculty Additions. With the outstanding faculty to student class ratio (typically 1 to 14 or less), the current faculty will support projected growth during the next three-year cycle (2015-18). Additional faculty in the areas of New Testament (one), Biblical Counseling (one), and Church History (one) are projected for the following three year cycle (2015-18).

 

Library. The Ora B. Allison Library houses a 173,978 plus collection with room for expansion. This library collection and improved technological resources continue to keep the library at the center of the seminary life and work. A twenty percent increase in library holdings (online journals, volumes, etc.) is projected through the 2018 academic year.

 

Development. The Development Office of MABTS has seen the assets of the school grown to forty-two million dollars over the last twenty-seven years. In addition, the Mid-America Student Housing, Inc. (MASH) organization currently holds over ten million dollars in assets and equity. MASH assets have been added to the school in the last twenty-eight years. This equates to an overall increase to fifty-four million dollars in assets. MASH has no outstanding debt.

 

Operational Budget. Because of the high percentage of voluntary donations which contribute to the daily operation of the institution, yearly budget projections are made conservatively. Budget projections are based on historical averages of giving. Also, projections of market-based income from seminary investments and the addition of new donors are taken into account. The next three-year budget plan (2015-18) has been kept flexible, and typically the operational budget increases by two to three percent each fiscal year.

 

Physical Facilities. The summer of 2006 saw the opening of the new campus building for MABTS. This facility includes 130,000 sq. ft. of administrative offices, teaching classrooms, seminar rooms, library, bookstore, cafeteria, and gymnasium. Also, 144 student apartments were built on the fifty-acre site at Interstate 40 and Appling Road. Interstate visibility, the latest teaching technology, and the completely debt free campus have been some of the major benefits of this upgraded facility. Updates to Internet speed (fiber optic line) and IT hardware (new units in the computer lab and classrooms) are scheduled.

 

Support Staff. The seminary has an outstanding support staff. The seminary will continue to offer professional development (staff chapel, staff in-service, departmental training) and will project a 2% pay increase for the upcoming year.

 

Auxiliary Organizations. The Mid-America Student Housing, Inc. (MASH) corporation legally functions as a separate entity from the seminary. However, the charter of this organization allows it to only be used for the benefit of MABTS. MASH will create a new dorm building for female students due to the increase in enrollment in the BACS degree.

 

The MABTS National Alumni Association consists of graduates and former students who support the work of the seminary. This organization has dramatically increased its financial support of the seminary and continues aggressively to promote the financial needs of the school and to promote the work of the school to prospective students and potential donors. The office of alumni and church relations will continue to provide online access for alumni surveys.

 

The Development Council consists of business people who support the school by lending their expertise as needed and promoting the school. This group gives generously to the work of the school and functions as a “friend making” arm of the institution. Council members live throughout the United States and regular promotional meetings are held regionally and in the Memphis area. They will continue to sponsor a golf tournament for the purpose of raising scholarship funds and to study the feasibility of creating a 5K/fun run for the same purpose.

 

The Ladies Prayer Fellowship meets monthly to hear updates on MABTS and to pray for the school and the student families. This group generously supports the work of the school and helps the institution by providing an incredible network of friends who promote and pray for the school.

 

MABTS functions in a fraternal relationship with the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). Though not owned or operated by the SBC, MABTS seeks to support the work of the SBC in its academic programming and relationships. Several SBC agencies have partnerships or contractual relationships with MABTS. Typical of these relationships are the following:

 

  • Guidestone Christians Resources of the SBC—this agency manages most of the school’s endowment funds.
  • Southern Baptist Foundation—this agency manages a portion of the school’s endowment funds.
  • LifeWay Christian Resources of the SBC—this agency provides an annual award at graduation to the student who shows promise in pastoral ministry.
  • International Mission Board of the SBC—this agency includes MABTS faculty in its seminary dialogue meetings and uses MABTS personnel for occasional conference leadership.

 

Documentation

 

1. MABTS Strategic Planning Process Model

2. 2014-15 MABTS Catalog, p. 7-8

3. 2014-15 MABTS Catalog, p. 8

4. MABTS Course Evaluation Sheet

5. 2014-15 Survey Form

6. 2014-15 Forum Agendas

7. 2012-13 MABTS Budget

8. Faculty Performance Evaluation Form

9. Staff Performance Evaluation Form

10. 2014-15 Employee Handbook, p. 19-20

11. 2014-15 MABTS Institutional Effectiveness Plan

12. 2013-14 Faculty, Staff, Student Survey Results

13. 2013-14 Faculty, Staff, Student Forum Results

14. SACSCOC Letter

15. Academic Council Minutes September 20, 2013

16. Artifact Assignment Spreadsheet

17. MABTS Paper Rubric

18. MABTS Project Rubric

19. Trustee Minutes - Review of Mission

20. MABTS Course Syllabi Sample

21. 2014-15 MABTS Catalog, p. 61

22. Capstone Examinations

23. DMin Sample Comprehensive Examination Questions

24. PhD/DMin Oral Examination Rubrics and Scoresheet

25. Sample Tally Sheet for Analysis of Findings

26. 2013-14 Student Forum Comments

27. 2015 QEP Faculty Survey Results

28. 2013-14 and 2014-15 AUGs

29. 2014-15 MABTS Catalog, p. 73-77

30. Student Grievance Example

31. 2014-15 Practical Missions Handbook, p. 17-38

32. Graduate Survey

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