Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program
Colorado Christian University.
My awareness of a strong calling from God to serve students through teaching has been evident since my undergraduate days at Taylor University. There my psychology professors poured into me intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally. They imprinted truth and wisdom on my life. From that time on I knew that I needed to give that same gift to students. This is an uncommon gift that carries great responsibility for Christian professors.
Christian higher education has a responsibility to God for the stewardship of knowledge obtained and presented. As a counselor educator of Christian faith, I am not just responsible for the dissemination of knowledge but to filter that knowledge through the lens of scripture. The Bible is holistic in nature and speaks truth to the entire person because it is “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16 – 17). In light of this, Christian higher education should approach students holistically. To develop the whole student I emphasize five areas in my teaching: (a) critical and nonreactive thinking, (b) varied teaching methods, (c) personal development, (d) biblical perspective, and (e) humility. My experience has led me to conclude that teaching to these areas allows for deeper authentic learning. When students learn authentically or with engaged application they gain greater confidence and understanding so that they can better serve the world.
While developing the whole traditional student is important, developing the whole adult student is a different task. I work to integrate Adult Learning Theory into my teaching to help meet the needs of graduate students. I attempt to do this in several ways: First, I actively encourage students to utilize their personal experiences to add to class discussion and to deepen their personal learning. Second, I work to help students identify individual goals and areas for growth that will strengthen both their character and counseling skills. Third, I design and implement class content so that it is both relevant and practical. Fourth, I assign course work to encourage positive collaboration among students. Developing the whole student works well with Adult Learning Theory as it draws on the student’s personhood and allows them to speak personal experience into their course work.
Another way I work to develop the whole adult student emerges through my grading policies. I try to use as many formalized strategies as possible (i.e. grading guidelines and rubrics) to be as fair and consistent as possible. At the beginning of every class I attempt to offer more grace and give as much feedback as possible on assignments and in person so that students practically understand the expectations for that course and for counselors in general. As students move deeper into their program and into the class I slowly raise expectations in regards to their performance.
When considering both my passion for developing the whole student and my continuous goal to better implement Adult Learning theory, I work to keep the person in perspective. Periodically professors forget that a student is a person who goes through struggles that can get in the way of academic performance. Though academic standards cannot be compromised, in some cases grace needs to be offered. This can take shape in a number of ways and should be considered toward the success of the student and the person.