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Adult-learning theory challenges faculty to adapt their teaching to certain characteristics of adult learners, including self-direction: if adults direct the bulk of their lives outside of school, so should they be permitted to direct their own educational experiences. To what extent is self-directed learning an optimal, or even realistic, methodology for seminary teaching? Does it matter what subjects we are teaching? This essay details an experiment with self-directed learning in a seminary ministry class: what worked; what might be altered before experimenting again with this teaching methodology; how it challenges our view of ourselves as faculty to teach in this way. Student feedback from the course in question enhances our understanding of the best (and most challenging) features of the experiment.


This is the pre-peer reviewed version of the following article: “‘The Grand Experiment:’ Modeling Adult Learning with Adult-Ministry Students,” Teaching Theology and Religion 10 (1), January 2007, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving.