July 24, 2023
by David Woolverton, Kairos Affiliate Professor
During the previous five weeks, we have been dissecting some of the tools, best practices, and creative and relevant skills that faculty mentors need to facilitate each student’s educational journey. Specifically, we focused on “The Art of Asking Questions,” listening with “Three Ears,” and making “balcony” Observations, and documentation—each of which reflects what we are calling the main Indicators of Faculty Mentor Competence.
In today’s post, we’re going to look at the sixth, and final, Indicator—Sharing Assessment Feedback—the Indicator that sums up the main goal for living out all the others.
The Sharing Assessment Feedback Indicator has several summative targets. The best faculty mentor:
Let me briefly explain each target individually . . .
Is able to use evidence-based documentation to analyze and assess student progress toward competence. Drawing from their familiarity with Outcome indicators and interacting with the data and documentation collected, faculty mentors assist the student and their mentor team in analyzing and assessing student progress. The metrices used to do so include:
Based on that evidence, shares formative and summative feedback with their student—to support continued progress in developing and demonstrating integrated indicators and competency. Faculty mentors (and mentor teams) provide two main types of feedback: informal and formal.
Informal feedback is best offered through ongoing interactions, Mentor team meetings, vocational observations (when available), and the like, as we give encouragement and suggest directional guidance. Though it is “informal,” feedback is a natural part of the rhythm of the faculty mentor’s interactions with the student. Those interactions need to be regularly scheduled (e.g., monthly mentor team meetings, weekly or monthly “check-ins” with the student, etc.) to develop a rhythm of trust, mutual expectation, and anticipation of growth.
Formal feedback occurs more specifically through evaluations of assignments, case study presentations, and master assessments. Evaluations of assignments can offer connecting points of feedback for the student—even when the assignment is officially evaluated by an SLE instructor, for example. The master assessment for each outcome, along with the comprehensive contextual project at the end of the student’s program, are meant to be the most summative and formative sources of feedback. Preparing for each can assist the student in showing their mentor team how the content of their learning has been integrated into their character and vocational craft. Therefore, much expectation goes into those discernment vehicles.
One of the best examples that I’ve seen on how to do a master assessment came from Kairos’s professor and Faculty Mentor, Dr. Laurie Mellinger. I have the privilege of serving as a Personal Mentor for a student in the Doctor of Ministry program. In assisting the student to prepare for his first master assessment, Laurie gave him a template of a PowerPoint presentation that she modeled after one done by another student. The template guided the student in summarizing his definitions of proficiency for content, character, and craft, along with the evidence of integrated learning for each, so that the mentor team could assess and support the student’s advancement in his program. The process, which is student led, helped to create a positive 360-degree feedback loop that gave evidence to the student’s competency. The PowerPoint presentation then could be used as additional documentation for the student’s educational narrative.
In simple form, the PowerPoint slides were as follows:
A similar process might also be used for any of the outcomes, and most especially for any summative final project for the student’s degree or certification. It can be adjusted to accommodate the student’s individual program and learning preferences. Whether as a PowerPoint, a video rendering, or a classic comprehensive “term paper,” a summative format gives the faculty mentor and the mentor team a tool to use for offering feedback.
Demonstrates responsiveness and availability—both in terms of their time as well as their ability to be emotionally present with the student and the Kairos community. Feedback is best received from people that we trust. Faculty mentors (and other mentors too) are in positions of authority—academically, and often professionally and personally as well. In those contexts, the power of feedback can be intimidating to a student (and even to the one giving the feedback!). Therefore, it’s important that faculty mentors engage the relational work necessary to build trust with the student and the mentor team and to “share power” with them for the sake of the student’s discipleship and growth. We’re all busy—faculty mentor, other mentors, and student. Time is valuable. So is the student’s learning environment. Faculty mentors strive to be fully present in their interactions, even anticipating what the Holy Spirit will do within those sacred moments of learning.
Demonstrates emotional intelligence through self- and social awareness, and in managing relationships. Emotional intelligence is “our ability to discern and manage our own emotions, as well as recognize and influence the emotions of those around you.” As stated above, the sharing of power is essential for the creation of a safe learning environment. Our words matter. Our attitudes matter. Our emotions influence. Faculty mentors work diligently at discerning what we bring to the table within our interactions with students—inclusive of our anxieties, our discomforts, and our own post-traumatic stress triggers. We may need to face our own “stuff” when it comes to helping a student face theirs. Faculty mentors need to be comfortable with the discomfort that comes with the relational growth process. We need to learn how to set appropriate boundaries—on ourselves, on the student’s interactions, on the situations that unfold. And we need to know when it’s time to get additional support to navigate the situations that are especially difficult or beyond our scope of addressing.
Demonstrates openness and commitment to explore their own areas of personal growth and formation as a sojourner with students. As discussed in an earlier blog post, faculty mentors cannot give away what they do not have. Personally, being a faculty mentor has challenged me to stay current with my own educational and spiritual development. In addition to being a full-time pastor, as well as a faculty mentor, I’m also a writer. My role as a faculty mentor has kept my writing relevant to what’s going on in the lives of those who are engaged in both learning and vocational worlds. It has impacted my preaching as well. Staying fresh and current with my own learning has helped me to realize that the more I know, the more I really don’t know. I’m consistently reading, taking continuing education classes, and seeing myself as a life-long student. Faculty Mentors are at their best with students when they themselves are being stretched by their own growth—academically, vocationally, and in spiritual formation.
Ultimately, this openness and commitment show itself in a faculty mentor’s:
As we have seen throughout this series of blog posts, the role of the faculty mentor is central and significant to what we do here at Kairos University. Having persons of competence is critical. It’s an exciting journey of mutual learning designed to help both the student and the faculty mentor work in tandem with the Holy Spirit in the ongoing advancement of the mission movement of God.
 Lauren Landry, “Why Emotional Intelligence is Important in Leadership,” Harvard Business School Online, April 3, 2019, accessed June 8, 2023.