DTS First Semester Critical Review

Saturday, January 7, 2017

BE101 - Highlights and Lowlights

Final grades were posted a couple days ago which effectively puts an end to my first semester at DTS.  I thought it would be a good idea to reflect a bit and offer a critical review of the class and my performance throughout.  As with any endeavor, there were things that were done well, and things that could have been done better.  Without pulling any punches, here are my highlights and lowlights.

BE101 - Bible Study Methods and Hermeneutics

There are a lot of different ways to evaluate a class and my intention is to be as objective as possible.  However, it's also important to gauge how subjectively valuable the course was to me personally and how much it contributes to my personal goals in attending DTS.  So this breakdown will cover the gamut in terms of criteria.

Professor:  It all starts with the professor...  While I know that I'm watching prerecorded lectures that were delivered to a live class, I thought Dr. Bailey did a great job covering the material in an organized, interesting, and thought provoking manner.  The lectures contained just enough information to prepare students for the learning assignments which required me to think a lot about the material and definitely supported my learning.  I never found myself bored during the lectures which was a good thing.

Texts:  All three texts used for the course were well selected for the learning objectives of the class.  Additionally, several papers were studied which provided good support and added clarity to some of the learning goals.  I never felt that the reading assignments were unnecessary and frequently used the texts to aid in the completion of my learning assignments.

Online Format:  Surprisingly, I really enjoyed the online format of the class.  I was concerned that it would be a little too task oriented for me and that I would focus more on the task than the learning, but I didn't find that to be the case.  As the course wore on, I was able to get ahead with my reading and video lectures which really helped with some of my learning assignments.  Also, the ability to re-watch lectures was really helpful on some of the learning areas where we spent more time.  I even ended up watching a few of the lectures multiple times which was great.

Graduate Teaching Assistant:  My GTA was terrific.  As you know, I had a difficult semester with my health which nearly prevented me from completing the semester.  But my GTA was very supportive and willing to be flexible during this time.  While in the end, I was able to complete all my work within the defined schedule, it was comforting to know that I had her support.  Additionally, she was very responsive to my questions about the material.  That was no small task given the number of students she was responsible for covering.

Grading:  Assignment grading in BE101 was nothing short of gracious.  While I didn't always hit the bull's eye with my work, the grading was heavily based on genuine effort in applying the learning material and engaging in sincere conversations with my peers.  When I was a little short of the desired application, I was given good feedback that helped me understand what I missed.  It wasn't about being right or wrong, it was more about what would have been better.  I would say that the grading overall was very forgiving, especially for a class with such a high bar for academic excellence.  That is by no means a complaint, I just recognize the patience of my GTA and professor in helping me learn.

Time Commitment:  Overall, I spent a little over 3 hours for work outside of class for every credit hour in class per week for BE101.  I am quite frankly shocked by this and consider this to be the ideal amount of work for a class.  I was initially concerned that I'd be spending far more time on my work.  On average, I spent about 10 hours per module (15 modules) for a total of 150 hours over the course of the semester.

Learning Objectives:  This class definitely satisfied all of the learning objectives of the course set out in the beginning.  This class completely changed the way I think about studying and applying the truths of the Bible.  I have no doubts that this class has prepared me well for the rest of my studies at DTS and will impact my own personal study for the rest of my life.  Time and effort well spent.

Personal Impact:  This one is a bit of a mixed bag.  While I learned so much during the course, it was difficult for me to separate the academic nature of the work from the personal application of the work.  I struggled to find a bit balance between my school work and my own personal time and study with the Word of God.  My dear friend and mentor assured me that this is something that all seminary students struggle with and all I needed was a little time with an open Bible and thoughtful prayer.  I'll need to work on this as I continue, but it's at least an issue I was able to identify.

Overall:  As a result of this class, I'll never be able to approach studying God's Word the same way again.  I have a new found appreciation for taking a methodical approach to studying Scripture and I am certain that this approach will help me grow in appreciation of the Word and of God.  Excellent class to get me started on my seminary journey.


  • Online format affords a high degree of flexibility in managing time for completing assignments.
  • Faculty and staff are highly committed to the students and their learning.
  • Online format delivers information in multiple formats which significantly enhances the ability to learn and retain information (video, audio, transcripts, and slides).
  • Time commitments are reasonable and not overly burdensome.
  • Material is worth taking the time to learn.
  • Learning assignments supported the material well and were interesting and quite frankly, fun.
  • Grading was forgiving and supported the student's application of the material.
  • I memorized Acts 1:8 and learned how to spell Habakkuk. 


  • Live chats with the professor were only held in the evenings (CST) which made it practically impossible for me to attend while residing in Poland (CET).  Outside of this, the 7 hour time difference really didn't come into play.
  • Chapel attendance recording method is a little archaic and not really consistent with the rest of the online platform tools.
  • Time commitments in BE101 were rather front-end-loaded.  I spent a lot more time during the first half of the semester on the assignments than in the second half.  I suppose this is to be expected as the first half of the class prepares students for the application of the material in the second half.

So How Did I Do?

I am struggling a little bit in deciding what to share, but I did say I would be transparent with the good and the bad as I document my journey through the program.  Please keep in mind that I am only a part-time student and having taken only one course this semester, I was able to focus all of my academic studies on this one course.  That would not have been the case with a full course load...

It was never really about the grade, but I'm none-the-less pleased to share that I received an A+ for the course.  I thank God for giving me the wisdom and the strength stay focused during this difficult time and for allowing me fulfill my obligations as a student in the program.  I am thankful also for the prayers and support from my family, church, and friends.

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