The purpose of this study was to gain an understanding of alumni’s perceptions of the impact and effectiveness of field education on their professional/career preparations for full-time ministry. The theoretical framework for this study, David Kolb’s (1984) Experiential Learning Cycle, identified the key elements upon which an effective field education program might be structured and provided a framework through which to analyze alumni’s perceptions of the career/professional preparation they received.
This qualitative interview study explored the experiences of 18 recent alumni to understand their perceptions of the development of their career capacities as they relate to the role and responsibilities of a Salvation Army officer. The participants were all recent alumni of the Salvation Army’s College for officer Training (USA Western Territory) and were selected based on their age and time since graduation.
Three main themes emerged: Meaningful Experiences, Attitudes, and The Field Supervisor. The alumni’s meaningful experiences included hands-on opportunities to test and apply the theory learned in the classroom, insight to the role and responsibilities of the corps officer, and exposure to new and/or different expressions and traditions of worship and service to the community. Additionally, though alumni were divided on their attitudes towards tasks that were more menial, it was, ultimately, this attitude that determined the perceived value of that experience for both learning and ministry. To fully benefit from their field education opportunities, alumni had to be self-directed in their learning and make a conscious decision to want to learn, see value in experiences, and engage in reflection on their experiences. Finally, field supervisors not only determined the experiences that are offered, but their willingness to invest in the learning experiences of the alumni (being available for shadowing and observation, and providing feedback) was critical to the effectiveness of the field training experience.
Recommendations for policy and practice include the selection of appropriate field education locations, orienting and preparing the students for their field education experiences, selecting and preparing/training practitioners in the field to be effective field supervisors, and some best practices for field education programs.
|Commitee:||Schulz, Greg, Vega, William M.|
|School:||California State University, Long Beach|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||DAI-A 76/10(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Educational leadership, Higher education|
|Keywords:||Alumni perceptions, Career preparations, Field education, Full-time ministry, Professional preparation|
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