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Assessment of Student Learning and Program Effectiveness

Bexley Seabury engages in a continuous and regular process of assessment of student learning and program effectiveness. The purpose of this process is to evaluate how well are measuring up to our stated goals; to determine the degree to which students are achieving desired learning outcomes; to identify gaps and implement changes which will allow us to close those gaps; and to alter our goals and outcomes in light of the changing educational and vocational needs of our students.

We also conduct assessment in order to keep our various constituencies well informed of our progress, thus engaging them in the ongoing mission of the seminary. Our aim is to provide the highest possible quality of education, formation, and enrichment for all participants through our program offerings.

Bexley Seabury’s approach to assessment of student learning and program effectiveness is outcome-oriented and evidence-based. Each student has a portfolio into which work from each course is deposited and evaluated using a standardized curricular-level rubric. The evidence we gather and analyze includes the following quantitative, qualitative, direct, and indirect evidence:

  • completion, graduation, ordination, and graduation rates (MDiv students);
  • placement data (MDiv graduates);
  • student course survey results;
  • aggregated scores from curricular-level rubrics that record demonstrable achievement of learning outcomes for each degree program (based on student work from each course and deposited into student portfolios); +
  • periodically comprehensive reviews of each program

The Master of Divinity Program

Click here to read the most current Master of Divinity Assessment plan.

This program is designed primarily to train persons for lay and ordained ministries in church and other ministries.  In addition to aggregated evidence of student learning using curricular outcomes as assessment criteria, other key markers of program effectiveness and tracking student success include the percentage of students who complete their program; the percentage ordained; and the percentage serving more than half-time in an ecclesial ministry setting. The following data reflects these key markers by tracking students who began their MDiv studies in the period 2011 to 2014, with the expectation that they would complete the program and were expected to graduate from Bexley Seabury Seminary in the period 2014 to 2017.

2011 – 2014 Cohort members (F/T) 19
2014 – 2017 Graduated 16 (84%)
2014 – 2017 Ordained 15 (79%)
2014 – 2017 Ecclesially Employed 15 (79%)

MDiv student survey data providing indirect evidence of student learning in classes offered in the period 2013-14 to 2016-2017 is summarized in the following chart:


MDiv. Student Surveys  2013-14 to 2016-2017

# of course reports Avg. Score between   1-10 % between 8-10
Courses contributed to progress toward curricular goals 22 9 85
Students integrated course material with vocation and ministry 19 9 91
Quality of Instruction 21 9 88

Direct evidence of MDiv student learning in Bexley Seabury courses, based on faculty evaluations of students’ course work and achievement of learning objectives, provides a measure of overall curricular effectiveness when those evaluations are considered in the aggregate. The following chart summarizes these aggregated results, based on courses taken from Fall, 2015 through June, 2017. A summary of MDiv program data gathered from 2017 to date will be published shortly.

Aggregated Faculty Evaluations of 147 MDiv Students in 22 courses from FA 2015 to SU 2017
Met all objectives 48%
Exceeded all objectives 27%
Met or Exceeded objectives 24%
Did not meet objectives < 1%

The Doctor of Ministry Programs

The DMin degree is designed to enhance the ministerial leadership of those who have an MDiv (or the equivalent) and who have been in professional ministry for at least three years.

  • The DMin in Congregational Development encourages students to reflect theologically on the nature of the church, understand the challenges and opportunities facing today’s faith communities, analyze congregations and their contexts, practice effective community organizing and strategizing, and develop a learning community with others who are asking similar questions.
  • The Doctor of Ministry in Preaching program, offered in collaboration with six other Chicago-area seminaries within the the Association of Chicago Theological Schools (ACTS), offers opportunities for experienced preachers to grow in their preaching skills and ministries. Key markers of program and educational effectiveness for the DMin programs are: student enrollment, program progression and completion; progress towards curricular goals and desired learning outcomes; quality of instruction; students’ ability to integrate course material with vocation and ministry.

DMin in Congregational Development

This program can be completed within three years. However, students conducting longitudinal or more complex congregational research typically take longer, and may take up to six years. The following data reflects program progression and completion by students who began their programs in the period between 2011 and 2014, with the expectation that they would complete the program within six years, no later than May, 2017.

Progress of 2011-2014 Cohort Members through May, 2017
Total Students # (21) % (100)
Degree completed 1 5
Candidacy (ABT) 3 14
Pre-Candidacy (courses completed/thesis proposal in progress) 9 43
Course work in progress 4 19
Diplomas awarded (9 courses + Congregational Study) 1 5
Certificates completed (4 courses + Congregational Study 1 5
Withdrawal 2 10

The following chart summarizes DMin-Congregational Development student survey data, providing indirect evidence of student learning in classes offered in the period 2013-14 to 2016-2017.

DMin in Congregational Development 2013-2017 Avg.Score (1-10 % between 8-10
Courses contributed to students’ progress toward curricular goals 8.8 70
Students integrated course material with vocation and ministry 8.8 67
Quality of instruction 9.3 82

Direct evidence of student learning is available for the years 2015-2016 and 2016-17. Course artifacts and rubric scores submitted to student portfolios for these years all indicate that students did sufficient or better work, ranging from a single low of 1.8 to a high of 3 on a 3-point scale. No student artifacts were deemed failing or insufficient and only two artifacts scored below 2. Due to staff transitions, information for previous years is inaccessible.

DMin in Preaching

The ACTS DMin in Preaching is normally completed in three years. Assessment of student learning and curricular effectiveness in this program is implemented by the ACTS administrative staff. Click here to examine available ACTS tables that reflect assessment of student achievement of learning outcomes based on rubric scores for select sermons and for the oral exam. This data covers the period 2015 to 2017. In terms of progress and completion data, four Bexley Seabury students matriculated in this program from 2011-2014. Of these, two completed the program and two withdrew.

Updated November 10. 2017

+ Assessment of curricular outcomes using course-level rubrics began in 2018; sufficient aggregated data is not yet available.