In the book, Assessing the Online Learner, authors Palloff and Pratt mention two different educational models: transmission model and engaged critical model.
The transmission model is when “the instructor imparts information and the learner absorbs it.” This is the traditional model that I have experienced through most of my schooling in both undergrad and seminary. The authors go on to say that this is an instructor focused model, which very little focus is on the learner themselves. The learner is to passively absorb the information from the lecture, process it, and generally show their comptency on some type of an exam.
The engaged critical model is when “teaching and learning are seen as a creative dialogue.” The learner is the focus of this model. As you can see in the chart below this involves group discussions, practice, and teaching others. The authors state, “it becomes clear that what we call authentic assessment — that is, assessment that encourages learners to actually do something to demonstrate knowledge acquisition rather than taking a test or quiz — is not only a better indicator of knowledge acquisition but also more likely to align with outcomes and competencies, and it also contributes to the retention of knowledge gained.”
The goal for higher education should be to:
Gain deep understanding of concepts
Conduct that critique in front of others
Perform independend inquiry
Engage in open dialogue
The instructor focused model does not allow for these higher critical methods of thinking to take place.
I find this a very helpful approach when thinking about my future teaching career and my current situation of developing online courses. Passive learning is the least effective mode of learning.
Does this mean that it is time to throw out the lecture? I don’t think so. The lecture should still be seen as a productive and viable method of teaching, especially at the beginning stages of learning a concept. Plus, a lecture is not merely the act of reciting information but should pursuade and craft a certain way of thinking about an idea or concept. The lecture should not be seen as an end in itself but to function as a launching pad to have students engaged in these learner focused models of learning.
One of the most valuable things that I have done at seminary is go to some of the workshops at the SBTS Library and to seek guidance from the Research Experts. This short time spent at the library has proven valuable in a couple different ways:
I am able to research better and more efficiently. This is two-fold. My research is better because I now know what the quality resources are and how to use them. This leads directly into the second aspect: efficiency. Instead of spending countless hours walking in the dark when it comes to research I now can turn on the light and go directly to the resources that will help me most.
Knowing the layout of the library. I now know where to find certain resources instead of aimlessly wandering the aisles of the library.
The research experts at the library help provide pointed direction to both general and obscure questions. Instead of helplessly searching Google to find a resource or how to do a specific search I can just ask them.
Introduction to Zotero. If you’re not using Zotero or some other bibliography reference software, well, I just feel bad for you.
With this being said, the library is offering several workshops to help your time at seminary. So if at the end of the semester you are drowning in the peripherals (footnotes, citations, resources, etc) of actually writing the paper that is due in a week you will be editing and reviewing your writing, which will in turn result in a better paper and a higher grade.
SBTS Manual of Style – A link to the latest style guide. This has recently had a makeover. It is much easier to read and find what you are looking for. They have also included templates for Microsoft Word, OpenOffice.org, and Mellel.
Lib Guides – Put together by the research experts at the library this provides helpful resources for all areas of theological study (OT Exegesis, NT Greek Exegesis, OT Resources, Commentary Survey, Systematic Theology, etc..)
Research Help – Allows you to quickly contact someone in the library to ask a question via a text message or email.
Check out Ryan Vasut’s (assistant librarian) excellent post on getting started with Zotero (Link) ↩
If you are unsure about how to use templates be sure to check out their helpful videos too. ↩
Hebrew I with Dr. Peter Gentry. I am looking forward to finally beginning to learn Hebrew. It is increasingly frustrating to not be able to use many academic sources because of my lack of Hebrew. It will be a tough class but it will be great to learn from one of the best. We will be using Allen Ross’ Introducing Biblical Hebrew
I am really looking forward to this set of classes. I have seen the increasing need in my studies for philosophy. It is disappointing to see what was once a foundational discipline in Christian studies is slowly being pushed out for different studies. It will be a difficult semester with learning two different languages, which will require diligent and consistent study (and less blogging!) but I am up to the challenge.
Good luck to everyone else out there who is starting school up once again!
SBTS Library Research Expert, Shawn Wilhite, has put together a 5-week reading group to go through the Greek text of the Didache. The Didache is not an overly difficult book to read and Shawn will provide an overview of the Didache and some vocabulary help. I am extremely excited to see the library doing this and I hope they continue it in the future.
Dates: May 28-June 25, Tusdays 10:00–11:30 am (Halderman Room)
Greek Exegesis of James (Dr. Plummer): I just took Greek Exegesis of Matthew with Dr. Pennington and James has much overlap with the Sermon on the Mount and the sayings of Jesus. It will be interesting to study how James integrates Jesus’ teaching in his own wisdom writing. I am also interested in seeing James’ idea of spiritual wholeness or “τέλειος”. I have blogged briefly on this idea (here and here) and am contemplating on writing my paper on some aspect of this theme in James. If any of you have any thoughts or ideas on this subject, let me know either in the comments or email. For those interested I have also put together a vocabulary PDF for James. It has the vocabulary broken down by paragraph, chapter, and also a cumulative list. We will be using Doug Moo’s commentary on James and the new exegetical guide to James by Chris Vlachos. In preparation for the class I also read Richard Bauckham’s book on James, which I highly recommend for anyone studying James. I also picked up a discourse analysis commentary on James by William Varner. I hope to learn some about this topic while going through James this semester.
Church History II (Dr. Haykin): I have heard great things about Dr. Haykin’s teaching here on campus. This will be my first semester under his teaching and I am looking forward to learning from him. We are using a variety of books but the bulk of the reading comes from Introduction to the History of Christianity
Greek Exegesis of Mark (audit) (Dr. Vickers): I will be auditing this class since I am already in one exegesis class along with my first semester of Latin. I look forward to sitting through this class and doing some of the work (just not the exegetical paper) and seeing the different theological emphasis between Mark and Matthew. The book list for this class is R.T. France’s commentary on Mark and Jonathan Pennington’s new book on the Gospels, Reading the Gospels Wisely, which I highly recommend as a wonderful introduction on reading the Gospels as Holy Scripture.
This semester should be an excellent one. Throughout the semester most of my blogging will probably be through James and Mark. I am hoping to read some of the early Church’s writing on each of these books so I will also include some thoughts on their interpretations as I read them.
As an aspiring student of the original languages of the Bible I always find stories and quotes of theologians who have studied the biblical languages before us encouraging (and sometimes disheartening!). It seems that in today’s age with all the various resources and avenues of learning students should be learning the languages at an exponential rate. Sadly, the exact opposite is the case. In the preface of the 3rd edition to his Grammar of the Greek New Testament in Light of Historical Research, AT Robertson says, “The Greek New Testament is the New Testament, all else is translation.” He then goes on to tell the story of a young shepherd boy who taught himself Greek without the aid of a grammar. Let this be an encouragement to all of us, if a young shepherd can have the diligence and patience to learn the language of the New Testament without aid let us all make the most of our time in our studies when we have access to the best resources at our fingertips.
At the age of sixteen John Brown, of Haddington, startled a bookseller by asking for a copy of the Greek Testament. He was barefooted and clad in ragged homespun clothes. He was a shepherd boy from the hills of Scotland. “What would you do with that book?” a professor scornfully asked. “I’ll try to read it,” the lad replied, and proceeded to read off a passage in the Gospel of John. He went off in triumph with the coveted prize, but the story spread that he was a wizard and had learned Greek by the black art. He was actually arraigned for witchcraft, but in 1746 the elders and deacons at Abernethy gave him a vote of acquittal, though the minister would not sign it. His letter of defence, Sir W. Robertson Nicoll says (The British Weekly, Oct. 3, 1918), “deserves to be reckoned among the memorable letters of the world.” John Brown became a divinity student and finally professor of divinity. In the chapel at Mansfield College, Oxford, Brown’s figure ranks with those of Doddridge, Fry, Chalmers, Vinet, Schleiermacher. He had taught himself Greek while herding his sheep, and he did it without a grammar. Surely young John Brown of Haddington should forever put to shame those theological students and busy pastors who neglect the Greek Testament, though teacher, grammar, lexicon are at their disposal.
Robertson, A. T. A Grammar of Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research. Modern. B&H Academic, 1947, xix ↩
For example Robertson’s grammar can be found for free in PDF form. Though it may be slightly out of date it is still used for its insights. In Robertson’s day it was seen as an extremely valuable book but it came with a price. ↩
I have compiled vocabulary for the book of James of words occurring 32 times or less. I used Accordance Bible Software for the glosses and count. There is a PDF (included is a table of contents for easier navigation on a computer and portable devices) of all the words and I also uploaded them to Quizlet. There are many flashcard apps for iOS and Android that connect to Quizlet so you can study on the go. Personally, I use and recommend Flashcard Deluxe for the iPhone.
I grouped the words in three different ways:
Entire book of James
By paragraph (according to the structure of the NA27)
This way if you want to go through a paragraph each day they can quickly pull this up and study unfamiliar vocabulary. As your vocabulary builds it will be helpful to look at a list of terms by chapter and hopefully towards the end of your studies you can use the list for the entire book.
If there are any questions or comments please either leave a comment below or email me at email@example.com.
Update: It was also brought to my attention an app called Bible Vocab. The app is free to download but has an in-app purchase cost of $3.99. After briefly glancing at the app it seems to be the best solution I have seen in the app store. You can set the the notecards either by frequency or passage. Here is a description from their website:
Bible Vocab is a simple and fun way to learn vocabulary from the Greek New Testament. It has an elegant and intuitive interface with beautiful backgrounds and superb Greek fonts. Just choose the passages you wish to work with and begin. There are two slideshow modes: Vocab Mode: where you see the words in their dictionary form Parsing Mode: where you see the words in the way they appear in the text and you are tested on their grammatical form.