Rawlings School of Divinity


Doctor of Philosophy


John B. Cartwright


Module, Modular Education, Education, Theological Education, Competency, Competency-Based, Rwanda


Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Educational Leadership


Theological education in an international, cross-cultural environment carries numerous obstacles. Challenges such as language, culture, and resources become overwhelming for the ministry striving to teach and train pastors overseas. Traditionally, establishing Bible schools, universities, and seminaries seemed to be a practical approach. Online education, though growing, is almost non-existent in most impoverished regions of the world. Both models bring challenges and beg the conversation about different options. In-person, modular theological education has been around for quite some time. Yet, there has been little to no research on the effectiveness of the approach to theological education in the international, cross-cultural environment. The purpose of this qualitative multi-case study was to evaluate the perceived effectiveness of modular theological education in an international, cross-cultural environment in Rwanda, Africa. This research focused on evaluating its effectiveness by first studying the modular approach to theological education, then the teacher’s perceptions of the model, followed by the student’s assessment. The research was to evaluate several modular sites in the country of Rwanda and one from its bordering town, Goma in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. For this research, effectiveness was generally defined as the manifestation of the competencies and lessons taught in a student’s life. The theory that guided this study was a competency-based learning theory, as it shows the application of the lessons taught to a student to be a measure of the effectiveness of the theological class and learning environment. The findings of this research suggest that modular theological education in this environment is possible and most effective when certain conditions are met, such as an understanding of the language barrier, a realistic assessment of the time needed, and the forming of appropriate measurable outcomes.