Printer Friendly

Assessment: lessons learned from a year long undergraduate teacher education pilot program.

This study sought to determine whether the overall intent of a year long internship which integrates teaching practice with the study of the professional core courses yields benefits as perceived by the participating pre-service students and their mentor teachers. The pilot program was a one-year field experience, intended for use with a cohort group of pre-service teachers. It was designed for undergraduate and certification-only students who are preparing to teach grades K through 12. This study provided insight into possible changes in program design, such as closely working with classroom teachers to enhance pre-service students' experience in classroom settings. The study indicates that teacher preparation institutions need to align their program to what is actually happening in the public schools. Clear requirements and expectations must be agreed upon with fewer changes as the program progresses.

**********

In the last decade, calls for reform have focused upon collaboration and implementation of Professional Partnership Programs (PPP). The intent of these calls is to link colleges of education with the public schools. In recent years, the Commission on Student Learning in Washington State has sponsored conferences for the 4 -- year universities focused on the state's education reform efforts. To meet the student achievement standards set by the state, that is, the Essential Academic Learning Requirements (EALRs) and the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL), teacher preparation institutions are being asked to substantially change their teacher training programs.

To ensure that all students have access to an effective teacher, major transformation of teacher preparation is required. Therefore, in response to the goals set by authorities in Washington State to transform teacher education programs at the 4-year institutions, a planning team made up of classroom teachers and university instructors at our institution envisioned a teacher preps/ration model. The team created a program that recognized the development of prospective teachers as a responsibility to be shared by university preparation programs and school districts alike. Informational meetings were held with a Public Elementary School Partnership group of eight local cooperating teachers.

The underlined assumptions for the pilot program were as follows:

* Teachers develop greater expertise for the work they are asked to do in classrooms when their preparation program exposes them to increase and add K-8 classroom environments through fieldwork, desktop conferencing, and media presentations.

* Teachers must have both basic knowledge about teaching and the ability to teach under real time constraints. Lacking either, the teacher is ill prepared. A field-based program will improve the skills of teachers in a socially significant way that can be detected by individuals not associated with delivering the program.

* Universities are better able to deliver an effective teacher preparation program when their faculty work collaboratively with school district personnel.

* Some aspects of teacher training are so vital and interactive that they should be addressed in a natural setting: each class/ module/field experience. Each of these classes/modules/field experience coordinators would be responsible to identify the activities that would address the important competencies that are established for each, to be monitored by the lead faculty member for each component.

After a series of meetings, the university and the local school district agreed on a joint venture to implement the new model of teacher preparation program. The intent of the pilot program is to develop and implement an undergraduate level professional internship at one of the elementary schools in partnership with the College of Education and School of Professional Studies at the University. Through this partnership, the candidates observed and worked with real students, teachers, and the curriculum in natural settings. The rubrics developed for the Professional Partnership Program were composed of Mathematical tools, Curriculum design, and selection, Communication, Collaboration and Activity, Behavior Management, Teaching Demonstration and Service Learning. In the first year of the program, the pre-service students were to complete the elementary education modules as prescribed by the Department of Teacher Education. The following year, the students completed another module through collaborative efforts of the Public School, Departments of Curriculum and Supervision, Teacher Education Programs, and Department of Psychology. The themes for the second year were centered on responsive education, team building, group decision making, facilitating problem solving, collaboration, working with parents, reflective constructivist practice, and service learning.

Purpose

This study sought to determine whether the overall intent of the year long internship to integrate teaching practice with the study of the professional courses yields benefits as perceived by the pre-service students and their master teachers.

This pilot program is a one year experience, intended for use with a cohort group of undergraduate pre-service teachers. It was designed for undergraduate and certification-only students who are preparing to teach grades K through 8. To participate in the program, students must have at least 75% of the subject matter courses with a GPA of 3.0. Moreover, students must have a good moral character and be cleared by the state patrol, Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction and the FBI.

It was the intent of this program to provide a field-based approach with more focus on experiential learning. Pre-service students had the opportunity to integrate and apply theory and practice within the laboratory setting of school. In this way, they were be able to apply the themes and ideas discussed in courses to a real-life public school context.

Method

The class consisted of 10 females and 3 males and they were all Anglo-Americans. More than half of the students were under the age of 25 years. One had a teacher in their family. Nine master teachers participated in the survey.

The university instructors and some of the teachers involved in the partnership program developed a Professional Partnership Program (PPP) survey questionnaire. The group met and chose a five-point Likert scale which the students and master teachers in the program were to identify themselves according to the variable on the questionnaire. The instrument for the pre-service students had 22 questions and 19 questions for the master teachers with three open-ended questions for both subjects. In order to determine the reliability of the instrument, it was subjected to a SPSS reliability analysis. We assumed from the results that the forms have content validity since the instrument was designed from concepts reflected in the literature and from observations working with the students. Two weeks before the end of the yearlong internship, the instrument was administered to the pre-service students and master teachers at one of their meetings and later collected for analysis.

Data Analysis Procedures

The Professional Partnership Program Survey had 22 questions on the Likert scale for the pre-service students and 19 questions for the master teachers with three open-ended questions for both subjects. The instruments requested a response from 5 for a high score to I for a low score. A high score indicates a more positive view of the Professional Partnership Program. The t-test for independent samples was used to test for differences in each group.

The 8 items for which the pre-service students of the PPP reported to have had an impact on their experiences are as fellows:

1. To what degree was your ability to work as a member of a team facilitated by the experience (mean = 4.62).

2. To what degree was your ability to speak publicly facilitated by the experience? (mean = 4.46).

3. To what degree did the program improve your ability in social interaction, e.g., conferencing? (mean = 4.69).

4. To what degree do you believe the cohort feature of this program was beneficial (mean = 4.46).

5. To what degree was the program arranged to maximize the benefits of the cohort feature (mean = 4.30)

6. To what degree did you acquire skills that will allow you to develop curriculum that is consistent with the Essential Academic Learning Requirements (mean = 4.62).

7. To what degree did you develop instructional strategies that will enable you to ensure students mastery of the EARLs (mean = 4.38).

8. To what degree did you acquire the skills necessary to develop lesson plans that are consistent with the EARLs (mean = 4.53).

The 5 items which the master teachers reported to have had an impact on their experiences working with the pre-service students are as fellows:

1. To what degree do you believe the cohort feature of this program was beneficial (mean = 3.56).

2. To what degree did the conferencing and planning with your PPP student promote self-assessment and reflection (mean = 4.25).

3. To what degree did you acquire skills that will allow you to develop curriculum that is consistent with the Essential Academic Learning Requirements (mean = 3.83).

4. To what degree did you develop instructional strategies that will enable you to ensure students mastery of the EARLs (mean = 4.00).

5. To what degree did you acquire the skills necessary to develop lesson plans that are consistent with the EARLs (mean = 3.89).

A frequency analysis of the data shows that eight percent of the pre-service students and 11% of the mentor teachers thought the goal of the program was clear. Forty four percent of the mentor teachers and 69% of the pre-service students thought it was some what clear as many goals of the program changed during implementation, and communications from the university were not very clear. Concerning performance expectations of the partnership, 54% of the pre-service students and 22% of the teachers rated it as good. However, the teachers and the pre-service students stated that performance expectations and assessment tools kept changing without enough teacher input and without teachers being fully informed. The logistics of the program, meaning, scheduling, notifications were constantly changing to meet interns' needs. Both the pre-service students and the master teachers respectively rated it 54% as not well communicated and 44% as averagely communicated. According to the teachers, interns were frustrated with the university expectations. Out of class meetings were a challenge when the students were trying to juggle classroom workload.

In reference to the course content relation to what the pre-service students were doing in the classroom, 53% of the students rated it as related and 73% of the mentor teachers also rated it as related. It appears that the interns got a better grasp of the course content from the hands on experience in the public school. Twenty percent of the mentor teachers felt students-assignments were not relevant to what they were doing in the classroom.

About collaboration relationship between the university and the K-12 system, 31% of the students reported a very high collaboration and 49% of the teachers rated it as collaborative. Both the mentor teachers and the pre-service students were asked to rate how well sequenced were the courses to allow pre-service students to achieve program competencies. Eighty three percent of the mentor teachers and 38% of the pre-service students respectively rated it as sequenced. It was a surprise to see that 61% of the students rated the course content as not sequenced.

Questions were asked about ability to work as a member of a team and ability to speak publicly as facilitated by this experience, and ability to interact socially. Sixty nine percent of the students thought they have been much facilitated by the experience and very much improved in social interactions. Fifty five percent of the mentor teachers felt the ability to work as a team was facilitated. Both the pre-service students and mentor teachers were asked about the benefits of a cohort. Sixty six percent of the pre-service students and 33% of the mentor teachers thought it was beneficial. A question was asked about opportunities for authentic assessment of the pre-service students' teaching. Thirty three percent of the pre-service students agreed that opportunities were provided for authentic assessment. Forty nine percent of the mentor teachers thought many opportunities were provided. As to the degree of feedback received throughout the program, only 15% of the pre-service students said they received a-very rich feedback, and 23% considered the feedback received as average. Almost all the mentor teachers stated no feedback.

The pre-service students were asked about how their journal writing promoted their self-assessment and reflection. Thirty one percent of the pre-service students rated it as average, 46% rated it as did not promote their self-assessment and reflection, and only 23% said it promoted their self-assessment and reflection. The question on whether conferencing and planning with the mentor teachers promoted self-assessment and reflection was rated highly by the pre-service students and their master teachers. However, the question on whether assignments in the students' university courses promoted self-assessment and reflection was rated very low. Only 15% of the pre-service students said it highly promoted their self-assessment and reflection. Both the mentor teachers and pre-service students were asked about the extent to which the program incorporated service-learning opportunities. Forty four percent of the master teachers and 71% of the pre-service students rated the item positively. The subjects were asked about their skills on curriculum development that is consistent with the Essential Academic Learning Requirements (EALRs) and the degree to which instructional strategies were developed to ensure student mastery of the EARLs. The rating from the pre-service students was highly significant compared to that of the mentor teachers. Finally, both students and mentor teachers were asked to what degree were the internship competencies matched with the appropriate assessment strategies. No significant difference was found. ******

The mentor teachers and the pre-service students were asked to describe the three greatest strengths of the PPP and the three greatest weaknesses of the PPP program. According to the mentor teachers and the pre-service students, the program created an opportunity for the participants to observe many different styles of teaching and time to reflect and refine one's teaching and professional development. Second, it reduces student/teacher ratio in the classroom. Third, the experience was very authentic. The interns gained confidence as they worked together as a cohort, and team taught. Finally, the length of experience prepared the interns for the whole range of teaching experiences.

About the three greatest weaknesses of the PPP program, both the mentor teachers and the pre-service students mentioned the lack of clear communication and unclear goals between university and the partner school. Second, the assessment procedures were overwhelming and not clear. The mentor teachers were not as involved in the assessment processes. Third, the unwillingness of some university professors to change the class times to accommodate the interns was disconcerting.

As to specific ways in which the PPP program can be modified, both groups stated that the institution produce a written expectations for the PPP students and agreed to by the mentor teachers. Second, key leaders should meet at least once a month, with opportunity for teacher input. Third, the courses should align to the classroom experience.

Conclusions

For public schools to meet the challenges of society, the method of preparing teachers must be part of the reform in the higher education institutions. Teacher preparation institutions need to align their program to what is actually happening to children in the public schools. This study provided insight into possible changes in programmatic design, such as working with classroom teachers so that the interns are better prepared for the challenges of the public school classroom. A clear requirement and expectation must be agreed upon with less changes as the program progresses. According to the cooperating teachers, "all in all a wonderful experience and opportunity for our staff and the students. The elementary pupils truly benefited from the enthusiasm and knowledge of the pre-service students."

The Professional Partnership Program (PPP) proved effective in that prospective teachers viewed themselves as able to teach exciting lessons using the Essential Academic Learning Requirements (EARLs).

References

Hopkins, W.S., Hoffman, S.Q., Moss, V. D. (1997). Professional development schools and pre-services teacher stress. Action in Teacher Education ,18, 36-46.

Wingfield, M., Nath, J.L. (2000) The effect of site-based pre-service experiences on elementary social studies teaching self-efficacy belief. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the AERA, New Orleans, LA, p.13.

Williams, H. (2000). Effectiveness of pre-autumn experience as a prerequisite for student teaching. College Student Journal, 34, 478-480.

Henry S. Williams and Osman Alawiye, Department of Curriculum & Supervision, Central Washington University.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Henry S. Williams, Department of Curriculum & Supervision, Central Washington University, Ellensburg, WA 98926, e-mail: williamh@cwu.edu
COPYRIGHT 2001 George Uhlig Publisher
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Alawiye, Osman
Publication:Journal of Instructional Psychology
Article Type:Statistical Data Included
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2001
Words:2708
Previous Article:Latin vocabulary acquisition: an experiment using information-processing techniques of chunking and imagery.
Next Article:Cross age tutoring: alternatives to the reading resource room for struggling adolescent readers.
Topics:


Related Articles
Collaborative Action Research to Assess Student Learning and Effect Change.
A Collaborative Approach for Creating Curriculum and Instructional Materials.
Examining language proficiency of teacher candidates--a critical issue in teacher preparedness. (Language Teaching & Learning).
The domino effect of high-stakes testing and standards. (On-going Topics).
Impact of service learning on the cognitive and affective development of pre-service teachers.
A response to the NCTM Standards: confidence and competence project ([C.sup.2]).
Combining web-based training and mentorship to improve technology integration in the K-12 classroom.
The use of technology in portfolio assessment of teacher education candidates.
Service-learning synergy in teacher education.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters