We developed an assessment plan that had two primary objectives. The first was to measure the effectiveness of each of the five Voyage project components: the curricular component, the co-curricular component, the faculty development component, the ministry component, and the professional schools component. Assessing the effectiveness of these components was helpful in implementing the project, but also in helping us to modify our approaches so that we could be most effective in creating a culture of vocation at Pepperdine.
The second objective was to evaluate developmental changes and gender differences among both students and faculty. Assessing developmental changes in vocation was consistent with the notion that the development of vocation should be viewed as a dynamic journey. Evaluating developmental changes in vocation was helpful to discern the extent to which this project has exerted a meaningful impact on the development of students' and faculty members' thinking regarding faith, career, and vocation over a seven-year period. Our research has shed light on the different ways in which men and women experience the call of vocation. Christians receive not one, but many vocational callings- callings that relate both to our professional (e.g., career, service, etc.) and personal lives (to be good mothers, fathers, husbands, or wives; to serve as responsible stewards of the earth, etc.) The truth is, however, that while many calls may come our way, we may hear only a fraction of those calls, partly because of gender difference. In terms of identity development, for example, women tend to define themselves through their relationships with others while men often define themselves in terms of occupation. This difference in self-definition may be due to the fact that, until recently, many occupations were essentially closed to women. The second assessment objective was therefore designed to examine barriers that may prevent both men and women from fully realizing their God-given potential and discerning their vocational call. Here, we hoped to enlarge our understanding of the role gender plays in facilitating vocational discernment and, in this way, give something back to the Lilly Endowment-and to others concerned with the issue of vocation-in the form of expanded knowledge.
We accomplished both objectives of our assessment strategy by utilizing student and faculty reflective writing, paper surveys, web surveys, interviews, and focus groups. Dr. Don Thompson and Dr. Cindy Miller-Perrin shared the responsibility for these assessment efforts.
To view the web site of Don Thompson, co-director of assessment for The Pepperdine Voyage, which details many of the findings from the Pepperdine Voyage research, click here: http://dt.pepperdine.edu/