A Needs Assessment of the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminarys Master of Divinity Program as Perceived by the Graduates, Faculty, Students, and Employers of Graduates

Problem: There is a lack of current data by which to evaluate how well the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary's Master of Divinity program prepares its graduates for the actual practice of ministry. The purpose of this study was to: (1) collect data from selected groups regarding how well in their perception graduates are prepared in specific areas and what they perceive ministers need or use most in their daily work, (2) compare the perceived preparation with the perceived need to identify areas of curricular need, (3) summarize the suggestions made by those surveyed, and (4) make recommendations regarding the ministerial preparation of Seventh-day Adventist ministers in North America.

Methods: The Seminary Preparation Survey, an instrument with two seven-point scales, was prepared with instructions modified for each group surveyed. This was given to four populations; faculty, graduates, the major employers of graduates, and students. The resulting data were analyzed and rankings were developed for, needed skill or knowledge, level of preparation, the scores indicating the difference between need and preparation, suggested curricular emphasis, and which items should be required, elective, or omitted from the curriculum. Responses to two open-ended questions were analyzed, categorized, and reported.

Results: The survey dealt with five basic skill and knowledge areas considered to be important for the ministry. There was considerable agreement among the four groups in every area. Of the one hundred and one survey items, fifty-eight dealt with practical pastoral skills, twenty-two with doctrinal/Biblical knowledge, eight with historical knowledge, seven with scholarly skills, and five with the personal life of the minister. Among the fifty top-ranked items that indicated skills or knowledge that ministers need or use most, nineteen dealt with doctrinal/Biblical areas and eighteen dealt with practical pastoral skills. All four groups rated the doctrinal/Biblical knowledge areas as being quite well prepared in comparison to the practical pastoral-skill areas. Rankings based on the scale indicating level of preparation show that seventeen of the top twenty-five items dealt with doctrinal/Biblical knowledge areas, while only one dealt with practical pastoral skills. Of those items that showed the greatest gap between need and preparation, forty-one of the top fifty were practical pastoral-skill areas. This general pattern was repeated in the section of the survey dealing with suggested curricular emphasis. The open-ended responses were widely varied but two themes tended to dominate all others, these were: (1) the need for a more wholistic program nurturing the person spiritually and personally as well as academically and (2) the need for greater emphasis on practical applications of knowledge and the development of practical skills.

Conclusions and Recommendations: Fourteen specific conclusions were drawn to highlight the major trends of the results. Seventeen recommendations were made to those responsible for the seminary curriculum. The recommendations fell into categories, related to: (1) developing a competency-based core curriculum, (2) content areas which need greater emphasis in a competency-based core curriculum, (3) the ongoing development and evaluation of the Master of Divinity curriculum, (4) the internship period, and (5) the personal and spiritual development of the minister and his family.

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Publication Date:
Edward Dower
Andrews University Press
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Full text available online through ProQuest Digital Dissertations. Completed through Andrews University.
Resource Type:
Papers & Plans; Internet Resources
Resource Objective:
Religious Origin:
Seventh-day Adventist