Statement of Academic Rigor
Purpose: To implement an academic philosophy that challenges the student’s ability to comprehend the materials of their selective fields, while developing the skills of thinking, writing, and oral communication found in scholarly activity. To accomplish these goals, Faith Bible College is committed to the pursuit of excellence in the educational development of each student by offering opportunities for students to develop a foundation that emphasizes biblical principles and is rooted in a biblical worldview along with the knowledge gained from various other disciplines.
Definition: Academic Rigor can be defined as “the set of standards we set for our students and the expectations we have for our students and ourselves. Rigor is much more than assuring that the course content is of sufficient difficulty to differentiate it from K-12 level work. Rigor includes our basic philosophy of learning. We expect our students to demonstrate not only content mastery but applied skills and critical thinking about the disciplines being taught. Rigor also means that we (higher education professionals) expect much from ourselves, our colleagues, and our institutions.”
Curriculum: Choice of curriculum is dependent upon the academic requirements for each degree that is sought. Within the framework of a biblical worldview, other courses are required in general areas such as English, psychology, history, etc., in order to maintain the institution’s programs as appropriate to its educational purposes. To accomplish this the staff and faculty of Faith Bible College work together to produce a degree program that meets these requirements as well as challenge the student to adopt a knowledge base of expertise in their chosen field of study. What will be discussed below are the parameters of curriculum that should be considered with considerable consideration given to each level of progress.
Thinking Skills: To enhance academic rigor, emphasis must be placed on developing thinking skills. This is accomplished first of all through a shared understanding of our academic culture. When dialogue between faculty, staff, instructors, and students is implemented, an environment of learning follows, because the student is challenged to think cognitively about the subject matter with the intent to formulate conclusions that are rational, logical, and can be articulated through a set of learned principles. To be a learning college the following points borrowed from A Learning College for the 21st Century (O’Bannion, 1997) should be considered as a focal point for discussion:
- The learning college creates substantive change in individual learners.
- The learning college engages learners as full partners in the learning process, with learners assuming primary responsibility for their own choices.
- The learning college creates and offers as many options for learning as possible.
- The learning college assists learners to form and participate in collaborative learning activities, such as writing assignments, research projects and public speaking, etc.
- The learning college defines the role of learning facilitators by the needs of the learners.
- The learning college and its learning facilitators succeed only when improved and expanded learning can be documented for its learners.
These discussions are designed to define the institutions purposes through opportunities to re-examine our values and to seek a means of improvement in the pursuit to challenge learners in future years.
Writing Skills: It is wrong to assume that all students entering Faith Bible College are proficient in the required levels of writing necessary to compete in an environment of higher learning. However, careful consideration should be taken at each level of education. First year, first-semester, college students are not required to write research papers but are required in their first semester of the first year begin the acquire the fundamental principles of writing through some other assignment offered by an instructor, e.g., essay questions, short writing assignments, group projects requiring a written response to questions., etc. For these assignments, proper grammar and punctuation are a must along with a monitoring of the content to ensure success. For the two-year degree, an English Composition course is offered. After the first semester, a course is offered in developing research skills. For all courses numbered greater than 110, research papers of no more than 10 pages become a necessary part of the course requirements granted that they meet the standards and expectations for the class.
Reading Skills: Text books that are chosen for each class must be of an academic nature and should not be contrary to the institution’s doctrinal beliefs, unless used as a comparison argument or tool for the purpose of enhancing knowledge. All textbooks are to be scholarly works that meet the requirements of academia. Any books that are of a non-scholarly nature should be avoided unless receiving permission of the Academic Dean. Reading assignments should not exceed the expectations of each level. Assigning multi-reading assignments are encouraged in order to gain a greater sense of a subject’s content, but should not be unreasonable if the written rigor is extensive. A reasonable amount would be 20-30 pages of outside sources.
 Suanne D. Roueche, “The National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development. (Austin Texas: The University of Austin Press, 2002), p.1