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Goal 1: Advance Whitworth's distinctive approach to integrating Christian faith and learning
Sophomore math & computer science majors taking the department's Careers and Vocations class soon discover the course is about far more than landing their first job. From Day One discussions about the difference between a calling and a career to conversations with professionals in the field – including Whitworth alumni – about how they incorporate their faith, values and ethics in their work, "the students learn to view their faith and calling as an integral part of their professional life," says Donna Pierce, associate professor of mathematics & computer science.
Pierce and Professor and Chair of Mathematics & Computer Science Pete Tucker, '91, designed the course, for which the department garnered the 2013 Whitworth Award for Outstanding Integration of Faith and Learning in the Classroom.
Each class culminates with vocational-journey essays in which students envision how the elements of the course have informed who they have become, both professionally and personally, five years after their graduation. Student-learning outcomes are assessed through the students' essays and through the department's graduates. "Our best assessment," Pierce says, "is when alumni share with our current students about how they live a holistic life serving God and serving people while doing work they love, as well as how they cope with challenges they encounter in life and on the job."
KPI 1.2.3: Expand the number and variety of student small groups for faith exploration and growth.
Early each fall, close on the heels of Traditiation, the Whitworth Chaplain's Office begins building small groups of students who will meet together throughout the year to share their lives and their faith. "The vast majority of the groups feature a combination of personal sharing and support and include life stories, Bible study and prayer," says Dean of Spiritual Life Terry McGonigal.
"Whitworth's mission language about following Christ is the foundation of our campus ministry," McGonigal says. "Because everything in Jesus' ministry flowed out of his intentional relationships with his followers, we see smallgroup relationships as the bedrock of our campus ministry. We link small-group coordinators and small-group volunteer leaders with students who want to know one another and to be known, all while experiencing growth in their Christian discipleship."
The program has grown through expanding campus ministry in residence halls and through including small groups in programs developed for those who plan to lead, to minister, and to participate in varsity athletics. The groups' discussion topics have also expanded to include understanding and practice of ministry, various cultural opportunities and challenges in ministry, the challenges of being a Christian student athlete, the transitions of life beyond athletics, and career vs. calling.
To find out more about Whitworth alums, the office of alumni & parent relations embarked on a new program last summer that will, among other things, assist the university in following the careers of its graduates. The Discovery Project, which sends current students across the country to interview alums, provides data that will benefit the entire Whitworth community.
As part of the summer project, current students take alums out for coffee and spend an hour or so conversing about their time at Whitworth and their current lives, as well as discussing the influence of Whitworth on the work they do and the ways they spend their time. "As a result of the interviews," says Assistant Director of Alumni & Parent Relations Josh Cleveland, '01, "the university hopes to learn more about how alumni have experienced their mind-and-heart education and to explore the role it has played in their sense of vocation and calling."
Student ambassadors share the general themes of the interviews with supervisors, who then track the information to understand the greater alumni experience of Whitworth past, present and future.
The university has also, for a number of years, conducted surveys of alumni nine months after their graduation as well as five years down the road. Those surveys will be continued – and adapted – to make it possible for Whitworth to document more fully its graduates' ongoing "discernment and pursuit of their calling/vocation."
Institutional Research Director Gary Whisenand says that the adjustments will be helpful. "Questions have been added to the nine-months-after-graduation survey and the five-years-out survey that should help us gather this information," he says. Whisenand worked with the alumni office this year, piloting changes with the Class of 2012 to establish a baseline for evaluating the data from future surveys.
To review additional KPIs related to Goal 1, click here.