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2.7.3 General Education

 

In each undergraduate program, the institution requires in each undergraduate degree program the successful completion of a general education component at the collegiate level that (1) a substantial component of each undergraduate degree, (2) ensures breadth of knowledge, and (3) is based on a coherent rationale.  For degree completion in associate programs, the component constitutes a minimum of 15 semester hours or the equivalent; for baccalaureate programs, a minimum of 30 semester hours or the equivalent. These credit hours are to be drawn from and include at least one course from each of the following areas: humanities/fine arts, social/behavioral sciences, and natural science/mathematics.  The courses do not narrowly focus on those skills, techniques, and procedures specific to a particular occupation or profession. If an institution uses a unit other than semester credit hours, it provides an explanation for the equivalency. The institution also provides a justification if it allows for fewer than the required number of semester credit hours or its equivalent unit of general education courses.

 

_X_  Compliance           ___  Partial Compliance          ___  Non-Compliance

 

Narrative

 

Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary (MABTS) gives evidence of an institutional rationale for its general education courses that are sufficient to the mission of the school. The institutional process measures its undergraduate degree programs and goals to ensure that general education hours are substantially represented. MABTS has devised criteria to assure that required skill levels meet collegiate standards and all undergraduate programs include at least one course from the humanities/fine arts, social/behavioral sciences, and natural science/mathematics areas. Furthermore, the seminary designates 15 hours of general education courses in the associates program and 18 hours of general education courses in the baccalaureate program that are considered pure humanities/fine arts.

 

General Education Rationale

 

MABTS reorganized academic programming at the Master level in 2008. As the Associate degrees were examined, the Academic Council began discussing whether 20 more classes could be added to the program resulting in a bachelor degree. They reexamined the mission statement of the school which read: “The primary purpose of Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary is to provide graduate theological training for effective service in church-related and missions vocations through its main campus and designated branch campuses. Other levels of training are also offered.” Since MABTS is a graduate school of religion that has offered college level training from its first day of operation in 1972, the Academic Council decided it was within the missional scope of the institution. The wording was changed to read, “ . . . provide undergraduate and graduate theological training . . . .” 

 

The issue of a bachelor degree was raised in discussion by the Academic Council comprised of the deans of the academic programs (Doctor of Ministry, Doctor of Philosophy, Masters and Undergraduate), the Vice President for Academics, the Vice President of Institutional Assessment, and the Executive Vice President. It was decided that the matter of a new degree would be seriously considered after the school experienced two cycles of the new semester system, so in August 2010, a taskforce comprised of the Academic Council and the Vice President of Institutional Assessment and the Executive Vice President was formed to discuss the matter fully.

 

The taskforce met weekly in 2010 from August until December to decide issues of program length, course offerings and schedule, and instructional faculty. They heard reports from other administrative offices on student housing, admissions, campus life, finance, etc., and met with current associate level students to discuss the program and recorded their perceptions before a formal presentation was made to the faculty in November 2010. The proposal was approved unanimously by the faculty in February 2011 and the trustees voted on the new degree program in March 2011 during their bi-annual meeting.

 

The institutional rationale for general education that serves as the basis for including selected courses is four-fold: 1) they undergird the mission of the school and have been taught at the undergraduate level throughout its history, 2) they conform to SACSCOC guidelines regarding the three general education areas, 3) they are offered at like institutions, and 4) the institution employs full-time faculty who are qualified to teach in the majority of the three general education areas.

 

General Education Measurement/Component

 

The seminary ensures that a student’s breadth of knowledge is sufficient by requiring general education courses in the three areas (humanities/fine arts; social/behavioral sciences; and natural science/mathematics) required by SACSCOC. The seminary mandates that a student take twice the number of hours required in the area of general education for the BACS program (60 of 120 credit hours). In the associate level programs (Associate of Divinity, Associate of Christian Education, Associate of Applied Science), one third (21 of 60 credit hours) are devoted to general education.

 

The peer review process of the seminary provides a measurement of the student’s breadth of knowledge. A sample from each of the three areas (humanities/fine arts; social/behavioral sciences; and natural science/mathematics) is provided in the Program Learning Outcomes Assessment Model (PLOAM) for the undergraduate programs. This sample illustrates how the school evaluates student learning, in accordance with the mission of the seminary [1]. The Academic Council approves courses for inclusion in the general education core and reviews the core courses on a periodic basis to ascertain their continued relevance to these general education outcomes, as displayed in figure 1.

 

General Education Evaluation Process

 

Periodically, the Academic Council reviews the goals of the general education core for undergraduate programs listed in the 2014-15 MABTS Catalog: 
 

            A. Humanities or fine arts: To evaluate and critique the influence of artistic techniques

            and expression on culture and society.

 

            B. Social or Behavioral Sciences: To identify and analyze data, perspectives, trends,

            concepts or issues pertaining to human social function and experience.

 

            C. Natural Sciences or Mathematics: To examine issues related to the natural sciences

            from an evidence-based perspective and use in applied contexts.

 

            D. Languages: To acquire proficiency in using the vocabulary, syntax and semantics of a foreign language;                 to effectively read and write (all languages), and to speak (Spanish only) using that language.

Figure 1. 2014-15 Curriculum Development and Review Chart

 

After the graduations in December and May, program coordinators collect general education artifacts as a source of assessment criteria for undergraduate PLOAMs. During this peer review process, program coordinators assess the results with the general education goals in view (see Comprehensive Standard 3.3.1.1).

 

Program coordinators use rubrics for papers [2] and projects [3] which are designed to set a collegiate standard of work product for the student to understand, and to guide the student for the completion of course requirements in general education courses.

 

General Education Courses in Undergraduate Degree Programs

 

All undergraduate degree programs include at least one course from the three (associate level) or four (bachelor level) required areas.

 

Associate of Divinity. For the Associate of Divinity degree, twenty-one hours of general education courses are required [4]:

 

General Education Component

Course(s) Required

Humanities/fine arts

 

English Grammar 1 & 2 (6 hours); History of Christianity (3 hours)

Social/behavioral sciences

 

Introduction to Counseling (3 hours); Introduction to Christian Education (3 hours)

Natural science/mathematics

Financial Management (3 hours); Computing (3 hours)

Total General Education hours

21 hours

Table 1. ADiv General Education Hours

 

Associate of Christian Education. For the Associate of Christian Education degree, twenty-one hours of general education courses are required [5]:

 

General Education Component

Course(s) Required

Humanities/fine arts

 

English Grammar 1 & 2 (6 hours); History of Christianity (3 hours)

Social/behavioral sciences

 

Introduction to Counseling (3 hours); Introduction to Christian Education (3 hours)

Natural science/mathematics

Financial Management (3 hours); Computing (3 hours)

Total General Education hours

21 hours

Table 2. ACE General Education Hours

 

Associate of Applied Science. For the Associate of Applied Science degree, eighteen hours of general education courses are required [4]:

 

General Education Component

Course(s) Required

Humanities/fine arts

 

English Grammar 1 & 2 (6 hours); History of Christianity (3 hours)

Social/behavioral sciences

Introduction to Counseling (3 hours);

Natural science/mathematics

Financial Management (3 hours); Computing (3 hours)

Total General Education hours

18 hours

Table 3. AAS General Education Hours

 

Bachelor of Arts in Christian Studies. For the Bachelor of Arts in Christian Studies degree program, sixty hours of general education courses are required [6]:

 

General Education Component

Course(s) Required

Humanities/fine arts

 

 

 

English Grammar 1 & 2 (6 hours); English Composition (3 hours); Introduction to Literature (3 hours); World History (6 hours); History of Christianity (3 hours); ); Music Appreciation (3 hours).

Social/behavioral sciences

 

 

 

 

Political Science (3 hours); Ethics (3 hours); Marriage and the Family (3 hours); Introduction to Philosophy (3 hours); Contemporary Worldviews (3 hours); Introduction to counseling (3 hours); and Religion in the Public Square (3 hours).

Natural science/mathematics

 

Applied Mathematics (3 hours); Computing (3 hours); Financial Management (3 hours).

Languages

Language 1 & 2 (6 hours).      

Total General Education hours

60 hours

Table 4. BACS General Education Hours

 

The number of hours required for each of these degree programs exceeds the requirements for this comprehensive standard and constitutes a substantial component for each degree. In its catalog, MABTS designates the general education courses considered pure humanities/fine arts in all undergraduate degree programs [4, 5, 6].

MABTS maintains a process of advisement for first and second year undergraduate students, both residential and online. Students attend New Student Orientation each semester and are assigned a faculty advisor, who ensures that they take first year classes. This process continues until associate and bachelor level students have taken their general education classes [7].

 

According to the 2014-15 MABTS Catalog, “Transfer credit may be granted for previous education in institutions providing similar courses with equivalent standards and requirements. Transfer credits may be accepted from institutions listed in the Accredited Institutions of Postsecondary Education [published by the American Council of Education (ACE) in consultation with the Council for Higher Education (CHEA)]” which are consistent with good academic practices and so long as the transfer hours are pertinent to the mission [8] of the school. General education credits may be transferred from other institutions if they conform to the institution’s transfer credit policy.

 

The seminary policies on transfer of credit for degree completion ensure that the majority of credit hours are acquired at MABTS. Each degree program has a limit on the number of hours that can be transferred from another institution. The sixty-hour (60) associate program has a limit of thirty (30) hours, and the one hundred twenty-hour (120) bachelor program can transfer in up to ninety (90) hours. The last thirty hours of any degree program must be completed at MABTS [9].

 

The Catalog further states that, “No transfer credit is granted for courses taken by correspondence, extension programs, or distance learning programs unless such courses are included on the official transcript of an accredited institution. Transfer credit is granted only for courses in which the grade is “C” or higher. No remedial courses will be accepted. The student is allowed to transfer only the amount of electives that are required for their specific program. The Transfer of Credit Form [10] will not be officially reviewed until the student has been approved to attend Mid-America” [11]. Students are notified by registration day concerning credit(s) that transfer. 

 

Documentation

 

1. 2013-14 Undergraduate PLOAMs

2. MABTS Paper Rubric

3. MABTS Project Rubric

4. 2014-15 MABTS Catalog, p. 94-95

5. 2014-15 MABTS Catalog, p. 99-100

6. 2014-15 MABTS Catalog, p. 106-107

7. 2014-15 MABTS Catalog, p. 63-64

8. 2014-15 MABTS Catalog, p. 8

9. 2014-15 MABTS Catalog, p. 67

10. Transfer of Credit Form

11. Transfer of Credit Policy

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