Accreditation

Notice: Comments Solicited from the Public
Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary is seeking comments from the public about the Seminary in preparation for its periodic evaluation by its regional accrediting agency. The Seminary will host a visit October 3–4, 2016, with a team representing the Higher Learning Commission. Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary has been accredited by HLC since 1971. The team will review the institution’s ongoing ability to meet HLC’s Criteria for Accreditation. The public is invited to submit comments regarding the seminary to the following address:

Public Comment on Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Higher Learning Commission
230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500
Chicago, IL 60604-1411

The public may also submit comments on HLC’s website at http://www.hlcommission.org/HLC-Institutions/third-party-comment.html. Comments must address substantive matters related to the quality of the institution or its academic programs. Comments must be in writing.

All comments must be received by September 1, 2016.


Midwestern maintains professional and academic accreditation with two accrediting associations: The Commission on Accrediting of the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada (ATS) and The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (HLC).

Associate membership with ATS began in December 1961. Full membership and accreditation were received in 1964. Degrees approved by the Commission on Accrediting of the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada include the Master of Divinity (MDiv), Master of Theological Studies (MTS), Master of Arts (MA) in Christian Education, MA in Counseling, MA in Church Music, MA (Biblical Languages), MA (Biblical Archeology), Doctor of Ministry (DMin), Doctor of Educational Ministry (DEdMin) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degrees.

HLC approval was granted in 1971, and accreditation by this diversified and comprehensive agency assists Midwestern in accomplishing its professional and academic objectives and commends its graduates to the larger academic and professional communities. The HLC has approved all degrees to be awarded at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate levels. in addition to the aforementioned ATS degrees, the HLC accredits all undergraduate Associate and Bachelor’s degrees, the MA in a Theological Studies (MATS) and the Doctor of Counseling (DCoun) degree.

Questions or appeals regarding accreditation issues and/or matters needing outside mediation may be directed in writing to ATS or HLC-NCA at:

The Commission on Accrediting of the
Association of Theological Schools
in the United States and Canada
10 Summit Park Drive
Pittsburgh, PA 15275-1103
412-788-6510
ats@ats.edu

The Higher Learning Commission
230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500
Chicago, IL 60604
800.621.7440



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Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary Policy on Credit Assignment to Academic Courses
Purpose and Scope
This Credit Assignment policy establishes guidelines for assigning the number of credits earned through satisfactory completion of requirements for academic courses by students at Midwestern College and Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. This policy affirms Midwestern’s commitment to educational quality in terms that certify compliance with applicable government regulations and accreditation standards. The policy makes explicit the relationship between the credits assigned to an individual course and the expected work of a student completing that course. Credit assignment should be based on course-related activities regardless of how or where they take place (including online), so long as they are required and contribute materially to achievement of course objectives or program learning outcomes. Credit assignments may also consider the intensity of engagement with the faculty or subject matter, student responsibility for learning outcomes, and course-related learning taking place outside the classroom, including online. This policy articulates definitions that help to ensure a measure of consistency in the assignment of academic credit across all disciplines, while insisting that oversight of credit assignment rests with the faculty and academic administrators closest to instruction. The policy applies to all credit-bearing academic courses, regardless of course type, instructional format, mode of delivery, or length of the course.
Definitions
Faculty Instruction: Teaching or supervision of teaching carried out in a credit-bearing course by faculty or other approved instructors or field supervisors under the supervision of authorized faculty.
Contact: Engagement of instructors with students to advance course objectives. Contact may take various forms: e.g., it may be face-to-face or online, synchronous or asynchronous, one-to-many or one-to-one, including faculty direction of students participating in for-credit internships, practicums, study tours, research, or scholarship.
Scheduled contact hour: One weekly, required hour (50 minutes) or equivalent of faculty contact. In addition to class meetings reflected in the Undergraduate, Graduate or Doctoral Class Schedule, other required course activities or combinations of activities may count as scheduled contact for the purpose of assigning credit. Examples include faculty-student conferences, course related events with faculty, skill modules such as MET teams, and participation in online forums, congregational visits, music program rehearsals and performances, etc. All such scheduled contact must be specified as required in course syllabuses and must contribute to a student’s grade or achievement of course objectives.
Instructors also require students to complete work outside of scheduled contact hours to fulfill course objectives. Outside work must normally include, but need not be limited to, two hours of regular weekly class preparation for each credit earned. Where expectations for the quantity and/or intellectual challenges of outside work exceed this minimum and materially increase overall student effort, the number of credits assigned to a particular course may be greater than the number of its scheduled contact hours. Examples include courses that entail extensive and/or intensive reading, writing, interviews, research, open-ended problem solving, practice-based assignments, or student responsibility for class meetings.
Course types:
The following course types are covered by this policy and are aligned in the chart below with credit assignment guidelines.
•    Classroom-based: Scheduled contact occurs primarily face-to-face in a classroom setting.
•    Faculty-directed independent learning: Scheduled contact occurs via faculty supervision of students pursuing directed study for credit involving such activities as capstone projects, independent work for distinction, or graduate thesis and dissertation requirements.
•    Place-or practice-based: Scheduled contact occurs in non-classroom locations such as churches (internships), field supervised ministry (practicums) schools, or clinics.
•    Blended: Scheduled contact is a defined mixture of face-to-face and distance/online interactions. Midwestern uses the term hybrid for most blended classes.
•    Online: Scheduled contact is mediated entirely online.
•    For courses offered during a typical 15-week semester, the combination of scheduled contact and independent student effort must be equivalent to at least 3 hours per week per credit hour. The guidelines should be adjusted accordingly for shorter courses, a) as directed by external agencies such as specialized accreditors for CPE, or b) as warranted by the standards of the discipline.

Type of Course Guideline
Classroom-based courses, such as lectures, seminars, intensivesClassroom-based courses. Typically, 1 credit per 1 scheduled contact hour, as defined above, per week. Each credit assigned includes an expectation of at least 2 hours of independent student effort for successful completion of the course.
Faculty-directed independent learning 1 credit per 3 hours of student effort per week.
Place- and Practice-based 1 credit per 3 to 5 hours of student effort per week per credit for practicums, internships, externships, and clinical placements.
Blended/HybridSee Table 1
Online See Table 1
Table 1: Suggested Credit Assignment Guidelines by Learning and Teaching Activity in Online and Blended Courses 
Activity Description / Technologies Credit Assignment Guideline: Hours of Activity Per Week
Online Lecture (asynchronous, with interactive work) Online lecture materials of static text and graphics, enhanced with

  • Recorded (audio & video) segments
  • Lecture capture
  • Interactive questions/quizzes with feedback
  • Animation, simulation
1:3
Live Online Classroom with Instructor

·        Lectures

·        Consulting with small student groups/teams

Video webinar with application sharing, Google Hangout or similar technology1:1
Live Online Classroom with Facilitator Video webinar with application sharing1:1
Online Discussion Boards (asynchronous):

·        Related to questions on readings, lecture, homework, projects, or exams

·        Topical graded discussions

Discussion Forums e.g., Blackboard canvas or Google Hangout1:2
Online Lab Activities /Problem Solving Sessions: (asynchronous with student interaction)

·        Videos with problem sets and solutions (in math & theory classes)

·        Virtual laboratories

·        Video tutorials & work with application

·        Simulations

Recorded videos with whiteboards or slides presentations1:2
Live Project Presentation Sessions, Conferences, Roundtables Video webinar with application sharing, phone calls with professors and/or other students1:1
  

Responsible Parties
Midwestern faculty are responsible for assigning academic credit to individual courses, for ensuring that credit assignments meet policy guidelines, and for approving exceptions to the guidelines. Typically, this oversight will occur in the context of usual institutional processes for curriculum development and review, and within curriculum oversight bodies such as the appropriate academic policy committee (Undergraduate APC, Graduate APC, Online APC, Doctoral Studies Committee).
The Provost and Deans are responsible for ensuring implementation of the policy by all credit-granting units of Midwestern.
The Registrar oversees the course catalog and is responsible for reporting regularly on the status of courses vis-à-vis the Course Credit Assignment Policy to the Provost and Deans.

Policy Guiding Influences:
In addition to the DOE and Accrediting guidelines, the following institutional understandings were used to establish credit assignment guidelines.
•    For the foreseeable future, the credit hour will remain the standard for awarding Midwestern credentials, reporting to external entities, and complying with federal and state regulations. Thus, the definition of a credit hour and the assignment of credit to courses must be consistent with external regulations and standards for accreditation. In addition, credit assignment policies and practices should meet or exceed the best practices at peer institutions. Midwestern is not seeking approval for Competency Based Education delivery at this time.
•    Although the credit hour is a useful concept, its basis in face-to-face, lecture- based instruction in a classroom neither reflects the range of current practices nor acknowledges changing instructional practices, which extend beyond traditional lectures to include online and blended online or place-based courses; internships, clinical experience, and field placements; “flipped” classrooms; laboratories, and rehearsals. Thus, credit assignment guidelines must balance the need to stipulate guidance with the need for flexibility in its application to a wide range of pedagogies.
•    Finally, the guidelines are intended to reflect the variety of pedagogies, learning outcomes, and expectations for academic effort and achievement present at Midwestern; and, to anticipate, to the extent possible, emerging pedagogies and technologies, as well as regulatory changes. In all cases, assignment of credit to courses rests with the faculty and relevant academic governance bodies, as does oversight of compliance with policy guidelines.