CBTE: A Philosophy, Not a Model, Part 5

November 5, 2018

Today we continue our conversation about competency-based theological education (CBTE).  Over the past few weeks we have looked at how CBTE is a philosophy, not a model, and as such requires us to think differently about a several aspects of modern higher education.

At the end of last week’s post, I noted that people often ask how this philosophy impacts the role of faculty.  The specific question was, “If we are focusing on helping students demonstrate integrated learning outcomes rather than assuming A+B+C = Degree, and if we distribute power in such a way that faculty no longer have sole ownership of curriculum and assessment, then what is the role of faculty?”

I think we can categorize the traditional role of faculty by saying that, in general, faculty at a seminary are asked to contribute through: teaching (classroom, online, etc.), scholarship (research and writing), advising students (helping students navigate through the curriculum), and administration (curriculum design, work on committees, etc.).

Schools and faculty will prioritize this list of tasks in different ways.  For example, some will view research and writing as number one on the list while others will consider teaching as the top priority.  Regardless of the order, the items on this list are usually prioritized in some way, thereby ascribing some hierarchy of value to them.

CBTE, when embraced as a philosophy, simply eliminates the hierarchy.  Each item is still present, but each item is also equally valued.  As a result, the role of faculty both changes dramatically and doesn’t change at all.  This happens not because the traditional roles they fill are no longer needed but because the gifts and abilities that they possess are no longer being confined to those traditional roles.  To put it another way, the role of faculty and their place of value within the educational journey is enhanced and broadened by competency-based theological education.  Rather than being relegated to particular portions of the curriculum or limiting their interaction with students to the conversations that happen in a course, faculty are empowered to bring all of their gifts and abilities to bear on the development and implementation of CBTE.

I believe the changes rest in how faculty 1) spend their time, 2) function within the administrative aspects of the educational journey, 3) utilize the breadth and depth of their gifts and abilities, and 4) engage with students over the course of a calendar year.

Please join us next week.  We will take a closer look at the four areas listed above and the impact that each of them has on the role of faculty within competency-based theological education.

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