Practicum Issues in Theology Education and Learning Directed Toward Competencies for Institutional Development that Communicate and Witness to the Gospel
April 24, 2021 4:00 PM - 4:30 PM On Demand Save the Date
The authors bring graduate and practicum experience to address theological competency in the Teaching and Learning domain––Hunter in secondary and McGavin in tertiary education. The first foucus in theological education is necessarily ‘body of knowledge’ and ‘technical competencies’, and the teaching, learning, and assessment of these skills. This, however, is not the focus of our paper. We necessarily have experienced deficiencies in the education and learning of theology graduates. But the problem that we address remains even where there are adequate competencies in theological understanding and expertise––since this in itself does not resolve the issues of communication.
‘Communication’ can be a one-on-one or a community or an ‘institutional’ issue––involving the forming and sustaining an institutional character/evironment that communicates theological understanding and practice. This ‘institutional’ focus typically takes public focus in institutional or organisational ‘Mission Statements’, with the steering of such mandates focused on institutional position titles such as Director, Institutional Identity. The key word here is Identity, in the sense of position responsibilities for engaging and fostering a Christain identity for the institution/community. Our focus will be on identity performance of theology graduates in secondary education––although what we argue is also relevant to ordained ministerial life and to tertiary theology educators. We need now to state how this identity focus relates to Teaching and Learning in a Conference devoted to Assessment and Theological Competency.
The literatures on organisational or institutional construction of identity, like professional theological literatures, take on certain technicalities of expressions––technicalities that frame teaching and learning of theology (and other areas of learning) and, similarly, technical language that frames organisational behaviour and development (these generally taken from the worlds of business studies).
Just as the formal content of theology disciplines forms graduates in relevant technical vocabularies, so also does the formal content of formation and development of institutional identity generates sets of technical vocabularies in those so inducted. Without prior curriculum and assessment induction, the result can be restricted practitioner ‘jargon-discourse’, both in respect of teaching and learning theology and in respect of teaching and learning and assessment in institutional identity formation and practice. That is, effective communication and implementation require more than ‘body of knowledge’ and associated ‘jargon’. We need to address how we cultivate movement from ‘talk the talk’ to the practicum, or ‘walk the walk’. We address this transition not firstly in ‘pastoral’ terms, but in terms of pedagogy and communication.
Teaching and Learning Theology must also engage the recognition and practicum skills necessary for transitioning/cultural-engagement competencies that serve effective communication and witness that bring Christ-encounters, that forms disciples, and that forms communities of faith.
Moving to the practicum takes added force where we are engaging our students. This is so since students necessarily expect and discern teaching competence in ‘body of knowledge’ senses–– but achieving student attraction in theology/RE turns upon credible witness. That is, the institutional formation and behaviour in Christian contexts gains traction only where there are credible witness encounters. But such witness is not simply the evidence of integral Christian lives and of integral Christian organisational form manifest in institutional performance. Witness also requires communication. And communication takes us out of restrictive ‘jargon’ (whether theological or organisational) in order to transition us into the language usage of those whom we engage, and into the culture/cultures of those whom we engage. This involves a responsiveness in speaking and narrative styles and communicating concepts in ways that engage ‘where our students are at’ / ‘where our students are coming from’. Without competencies in such transitions from the jargon of theology/RE discourses and/or the jargon of organisational identity discourses, communication will fail, and witness will fail––failures that will be both personal and institutional. Further, intended alignments of theology and identity with institutional mission will fail, both personally and institutionally.
It is in this perspective that in we argue for the ‘place’ and the ‘how’ within an Assessment and Theological Competency paradigm of Teaching and Learning at cap-level the inclusion of components that enable movements/transitions from technical competencies toward practicum competencies that foster culturally-situated comprehension, communication and witness that activates personal and institutional engagement with organisational/community idenity that in turn brings a quality of gospel attraction. Teaching and Learning Theology must also engage the recognition and practicum skills necessary for transitioning/cultural-engagement competencies that serve effective communication and witness that bring Christ-encounters, that forms disciples, and that forms communities of faith. This end forms the focus for developing of the practicum content of our paper.
Domain 5: Institutional Quality Assurance
- Assessment in policy, teaching practice, and student experience: A gap analysis quality assurance approach
- Towards Meaningful Student Course Evaluations
- Leveraging Student Feedback
- The importance of academic and research integrity (Higher Education Standard 5.2) in the assessment process to Christian formation, resilience, and well-being