Your school has built in curricular elements dealing with all the “oikonomia” themes. Great. You’ve been talking about whole-life discipleship and stewardship, value creation and opportunities for the poor, vocation outside the church walls and responsible action. Fantastic. But how do you know your training is having an effect on students?
In 2016, the Oikonomia Network began an Assessment Working Group, in part to help schools with answering the important question of effectiveness. One of the group’s first tasks was to identify and evaluate existing assessment tools.
The team considered nearly twenty different instruments, weeding out some while highlight those that would be of greatest help to ON schools. The group came up with a short list of recommended resources. Here we share two that may be of immediate help to schools in the network.
One tool flagged as potentially useful was The Integration Profile. Produced by David Miller and Timothy Ewest, it offers a scale developed specifically toward workplace spirituality and faith. The Integration Profile builds on an earlier assessment tool (The Integration Box) as well as Miller’s important history on the faith at work movement, God at Work (2007). Aside from measuring degrees of integration of faith and vocation/work, the tool helpfully identifies four different personality types: 1) the ethics type, which places high value on moral concerns; 2) the expression type, which places high value on the ability to express one’s faith tradition and worldview to others; 3) the experience type, which places high value on understanding work as a spiritual calling; and 4) the enrichment type, which places high value on bringing one’s spirituality/religion into the workplace to enrich (or endure) one’s work. The Integration Profile has been used in an array of workplaces, and shows promise for student and program assessment in institutions of higher learning.
Also identified as helpful to theological schools was Discipleship Dynamics. This holistic assessment tool was developed by persons connected with Oikonomia Network, including Johan Mostert, Deborah Gill and Charlie Self. The questionnaire gathers data in five dimensions of discipleship, the fourth dedicated to “vocational clarity” and the fifth to “economics and work.” That final dimension measures workplace ethics, mission at work, understanding of contribution to the economy, creativity and innovation, being an asset to one’s colleagues and stewardship of the environment. Through this easily-accessed tool, seminary students’ values are showcased vis-a-vis other areas of discipleship maturity.
For those interested in additional options, the Assessment Working Group also recommends the Faith at Work Scale (Lynn et al.), the Faith Maturity Scale (Benson et al.), Workplace Motivations (Fullilove), John Terrill’s PhD dissertation, “Validation of the Transformative Work in Society Index” (Terrill), and John Elton Pletcher’s DMin Thesis, “The Effect of a Training Program as Mission.”
We noted some limitations in existing assessment tools. Some of them use generic religious terminology, potentially misleading to students at evangelical seminaries. The group also noticed that the tools do not necessarily exhibit a balanced approach to cognitive, affective and behavioral domains – results do not necessarily reveal how students thought, felt about and engaged in the integration of faith and work. Finally, the tools lean heavily on self-reporting rather than evidence from external evaluators.
For these reasons, the Assessment Working Group has recommended that one or more new assessment tools be developed. The team will promote this work while continuing to share key resources with network schools.
Note: In addition to input on assessment tools, the ON Assessment Working Group welcomes your feedback on the rubric for evaluating school progress handed out at the 2018 faculty retreat. Look for more on that rubric in a future newsletter!