Educational Effectiveness

At Wesley Theological Seminary, we seek to ground learning in the scripture and traditions that provide the church’s identity in the gospel, and to prepare students for the practice of ministry. Therefore, every part of the curriculum is theological in character, and practically related to the church’s life. The educational process is designed to bring classroom and field learning into complementary relationship. Thus we assess our educational effectiveness not only by analyzing our students’ success within courses and throughout the curriculum but in relation to our graduates’ ability to be effective teachers, preachers and leaders for the church of the 21st century.

The assessment of student learning begins with clearly articulated statements of educational goals and objectives. Wesley has published such outcomes statements at all levels, including institutional goals, degrees and program level objectives, and course goals. These statements are well integrated and consistent across the three levels. The primary institutional goal of “preparing exemplary teachers, preachers, and leaders” articulates the overarching statement of our purpose and standard of learning.

Tools for assessing outcomes of educational offerings include: enrollment statistics, course evaluations, end of term review, advancement to candidacy evaluation, retention and withdrawals, exit interviews and entering student, graduating student, and five-year-out graduate surveys. Evaluations from learning supervisors in PMM placements constitute a form of direct evidence. Faculty members regularly review these measures corporately at faculty meetings and retreats, and individually in the Dean’s office. Faculty members use these measures to revise and improve foundational courses, and expand course offerings in line with new needs and the school’s church-based mission.

One measure of the rigor and appropriateness of Wesley’s educational offerings is our students’ and graduates’ records of advancement to candidacy in the United Methodist Church. Courses offerings for the Master’s degree programs meet requirements for ordination contained in the United Methodist Paragraph 324.5c of the 2008 Book of Discipline. Wesley graduates have a high rate of success advancing to candidacy in our regional conferences: the Central Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Baltimore-Washington Conferences.

According to the Central Pennsylvania Conference, “Of the 43 CPA graduates from Wesley from 1998 through 2009, 18 have been ordained or had their ordination recognized; 12 are currently in residency toward ordination, and 8 serve as licensed local pastors awaiting entrance into residency. Thus a total of 38 persons are active in ministry (ordained, in residency, licensed) or retired from active ministry, all as local church pastors: 88.3% of graduates for this time period. Of the 43 graduates, 3 have exited the ministry and 2 are neither certified nor licensed at this time (Outcomes Report on Central PA Graduates, 1998-2009).

The Virginia Conference Outcomes Report reveals that “during 2001-2009 a total of 82 Wesley students and graduates appeared for the first time for probationary/provisional interviews.” Sixty persons (60) or 73% were recommended for probationary/provisional status. This is higher than the 67% for all 249 graduates (Outcomes Report on VA Graduates, 2001-2009).

According to Baltimore Washington Conference statistics for 2008-2009, 22 Wesley graduates appeared for probationary/provisional interviews. It is unclear if these were first time meetings. Twenty (20) or 91% were approved for commissioning. This is higher than the 82% success rate for all 29 graduates.

Student Feedback through our annual Graduate Student Questionnaire indicates that a wide majority of graduating students are satisfied with a variety of important formation and skill acquisition indicators.  For more information please see charts 1 & 2 below.

The vast majority of M.Div. students highly rate their field education experience.  The percentage of M.Div. graduates who rated their field education or internship experience important or very important was: 82.6% (2009); 81.1% (2010); 87.7% (2011); 88.9% (2012). (Table 16, ATS Gradating Student Questionnaire 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012)

The percentage of M.Div. graduates who anticipated full-time parish ministry was: 54.2% (2009); 55.8% (2010); 49.3% (2011); 58.9% (2012). (Table 20, ATS Gradating Student Questionnaire 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012).

A majority of our graduates in all degree programs consistently report having employment secured prior to graduation (Tables 20 and 21, ATS Gradating Student Questionnaire 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012). 

The vast majority of graduates in all degree programs take 3-5 years to complete their degrees.  See charts 3-5 below for specific rates for each degree program.  (GSQ, 2009-2012).

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