Defining Student Achievement and Success
A common practice among higher education institutions involves measuring student achievement and success primarily through data such as student retention rates, graduation rates, job placement, and starting salaries. At Zaytuna College, while we recognize and track that data, we also measure student achievement or success through indicators of their cumulative learning and growth, including the writing and reasoning abilities reflected in their thesis, their love of seeking knowledge, and their commitment to the commonweal. Our degree programs aim to educate students to become morally, intellectually, and spiritually accomplished individuals who are committed to serving society in ways commensurate with their gifts on the one hand and the needs of human society on the other.
While we recognize and applaud the many Zaytuna alumni who matriculate into reputable graduate programs, secure gainful employment, and engage in noteworthy acts of public service, we also deem successful those students who exude a love of learning, maintain general well-being, and show good adab with God and with others. The term adab encompasses a complex set of meanings that includes decency, comportment, decorum, etiquette, manners, morals, propriety, and humaneness. The contemporary Muslim philosopher Syed Muhammad Naquib al-Attas explains that adab involves the “recognition and acknowledgment of the reality that knowledge and being are ordered hierarchically according to their various grades and degrees of rank, and of one’s proper place in relation to that reality and to one’s physical, intellectual, and spiritual capacities and potentials.”
At Zaytuna College, we consider our program successful if our graduates, after having delved into sacred scripture and the liberal arts as traditionally understood, find success in the career of their choosing, and also leave imbued with a love of learning knowledge and its requisite responsibilities. We recognize the practical importance of real-world needs after graduation (reflected in some of the positive indicators below), and we also want our BA and MA graduates to leave Zaytuna prepared for and committed to a lifetime of growth, learning, and service. The American author Alfie Kohn, who has written extensively on educational theory, notably stated, “Learning is more important than the products that result.”
Program Learning Outcomes
The learning outcomes of our degree programs define curricular success in each program, further supported by course learning outcomes at a deeper level. Upon completion of the Master’s program, our graduates acquire advanced skills in reading and interpreting traditional Islamic texts in the stated fields of research; advanced Arabic reading and speaking skills; fluency in dialectical and didactic elements of time-tested teaching methods; and a broad understanding and exposure to other fields of study, such as Islamic intellectual history from its roots in Arabic language and literature, Qur’an and Qur’anic commentaries, hadith tradition and commentaries, law, philosophy, theology, and Sufism.
By the time students complete the Bachelor’s program, they acquire the tools of lifelong learning, grounding in the Islamic and Western scholarly traditions, ability to analyze subjects holistically in the context of other subjects and with attention to contemporary relevance, and understanding the importance of moral commitment and service to the community.
Signs of Student Success and Achievement
Our graduates are pursuing a wide variety of further studies at top-notch universities, while others are employed in varied professions, and still others are serving in nonprofit community organizations, all of which we see as reflective of the firm grounding in both the Islamic and the Western intellectual traditions, as well as a foundation in the liberal arts.
Some students show up in more than one category below due to their own trajectory in pursuing studies or employment, and some others are not reflected in the data because they have taken gap years to do independent studies. The percentages below reflect both the BA and MA program graduates.
More than half of past Zaytuna students pursue further graduate study (55%)
Religious studies, Islamic studies, Islamic texts, chaplaincy (25%)
Medical school, pharmacy school, or pre-med programs of study or research (14%)
Law school or other legal career paths (10%)
Humanities, philosophy, liberal arts, global affairs, behavioral science, or journalism (10%)
Employment in a full-time or part-time capacity (54%)
Employment or volunteer work in the field of education in teaching, tutoring curricular development, or instructional design (35%)
Community service projects, including delivering sermons (khutbahs), or working for community service organizations, whether paid or as volunteers. (18%)
The Capstone BA and MA Thesis
Any liberal arts program worth the name aims to inculcate excellent analytical skills in students, coupled with a compelling writing style. A key indicator of their success or failure of such a lofty goal involves their ability to conduct serious research and present the findings. To that end, each degree program culminates in a capstone thesis on a topic chosen and researched by the student: