Louise Kretzschmar, Systematic Theology and Ethics Professor at UNISA, the largest university in South Africa and one of the largest distance education institutions in the world, offers these ideas on assessment and other aspects of theological education:

* Instead of using only essays (within Distance education or residential education) as a means of assessment, using projects and portfolios. The latter is a type of journal that the student keeps with answers to questions posed in the study material, encounters with others encouraged by the material etc. A colleague, Madge Karecki, in teaching an inter-faith course, got her students to meet with a person from another faith, go to the mosque with them, have a meal with their family and then write up their experiences and discussions after each encounter.

* I also share part of my life story with the students (e.g. in an “Ethics and spirituality” course) and encourage them to write their own stories and link it with the teaching material.

* At UNISA I include pictures and other graphic material as well as many stories and “activities” that encourage interaction with the material (This is important especially for distance education).

* I think that actual encounters with people from other faiths or cultures or classes, etc. are essential.

* Also it is valuable for students to visit another college of a different religious tradition where they can attend each other’s classes, play some sport together and then have a meal and conversation.

* Visiting churches and projects may also be better than just inviting speakers; students need to be exposed to different contexts and ministries.

* Spiritual formation is an essential part of theological education. Jill Manton in Melbourne has been doing this in the establishment of the WellSpring Centre, a church-based centre that offers students (and others) a space and place to explore their faith in addition to undertaking college courses on spirituality.

* At the Soweto College we also had an annual week long Winter School of Theology attended by students, lecturers, denominational leaders, pastors, church members, and international visitors (including students)—this was a dynamic mix.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: “…go to the mosque with them.”

Louise Kretzschmar, Creative Learning in the Field