Summarize activities and changes based on data that have led to continuous improvement of candidate performance and program quality.
Field and internship experiences rely heavily on partner input. Feedback from school-based partners is obtained through multiple systematic structures and used to evaluate and improve the design and delivery of field and clinical experiences. The UTC School of Education department head and Dean meet on a regular basis with the HCDE superintendent, school administrators, curriculum coordinators, and other key HCDE personnel to discuss policies and procedures for the placement of teaching and counseling candidates and to initiate changes when necessary. The UTC Field Placement Coordinator, department head, and faculty also meet with school administrators in focus groups which target continuous improvement, as well as opportunities for design and delivery changes. Many of the HCDE educators and administrators provide seminars for the student teachers throughout the semester, further reinforcing the collaborative experience. UTeaChattanooga Co-Directors and program faculty have been developing similar structures for their candidates who complete field placements in HCDE.
These activities provide a forum for fostering consistency in keeping the student teaching practicum very closely aligned with the actual experience of being a certified educator. The unit’s conceptual framework for initial and advanced programs and all evaluation instruments are also aligned with Tennessee Teacher Licensure Standards, ISTE National Technology Standards for all Teachers, and Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC) Standards.
Assessment data (for example, data from student teaching evaluations, student teacher portfolios etc.) are gathered and analyzed each semester to consider what changes/improvements may be necessary based on those data. Keeping pace with the latest instructional strategies, pre-service teachers are required to learn how to implement state of the art technology in their preparatory undergraduate and graduate coursework. To facilitate this, the unit has recently purchased a SMART board and PROMETHEAN board to train both faculty and students in the use of these technologies. In regard to assistive technology, our Exceptional Ed/Special Ed majors are given opportunities for training through student teaching seminars that are held throughout the student teaching semester.
Teacher education faculty are expected to model the effective use of technology for instruction. Students begin using electronic portfolios in LIVE TEXT software in the Foundations of Education course (EDUC 2010) and continue to use the portfolio throughout the student teaching experience. Documenting practice through the electronic portfolio process encourages and supports the use of technology as an instructional tool.
Specific teacher preparation topics, such as current trends in classroom management, innovative curricula, teaching strategies, diversity, technology, latest developments in school law, pending legislation, merit-based advancement, tenure, and other issues are targeted in seminars held throughout the student teaching semester. Practitioners from Hamilton County and other partnering school districts are frequently the keynote speakers. This greatly enhances opportunities for students to assimilate the knowledge they continue to gain at the university with their on-site practicum assignments.
Efforts are made on a continual basis to address the changes that are taking place in the teaching profession. Some of the recent initiatives that have been and continue to be implemented as a part of the practicum experience include:
- Implementation of electronic portfolios (in progress)
- On-line student teacher evaluations
- On-line portfolio evaluations
- Self-assessments in the areas of teaching quality, dispositions, and technology, including video recordings of lessons taught
- Seminars that provide training in assessment, teacher accountability, classroom management, school law, technology, and other critical areas
- Assessment modules that are completed prior to and during student teaching (in progress)
- Surveys completed by students, cooperating teachers and university supervisors that assist in targeting areas needing improvement in the practicum experience
- Implementation/phase-in of the Project Coach teacher evaluation system (in progress)
Evidence that clinical faculty provide regular and continuous support for initial and advanced program candidates is found in policies regarding supervision during clinical practice and internship experiences, as outlined in the student teaching and partner handbooks. Post-observation and post-evaluation conferences conducted with the cooperating teacher, university supervisor, student teacher, and administrator also serve as an important means of giving and receiving feedback, providing the support needed to all parties concerned.
University supervisors are also given training in an effort to clearly understand their role in supervision. They attend bi-annual in-services designed to keep them up-to-date on the use of LIVETEXT software as a tool for creating electronic portfolios and seminars that pertain to most recent changes in teacher evaluations systems (e.g., Project COACH).
Candidates in teacher education programs at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga are required to complete a wide range of field experiences designed to facilitate their development as successful teachers. The Framework for Evaluation and Professional Growth of Student Teachers instrument is used by university supervisors and cooperating teachers to evaluate candidate performance during student teaching. The evaluation is an adaptation of Tennessee‘s Framework for the Evaluation and Professional Growth and reflects both state and professional standards. In addition, the state of Tennessee and Hamilton County’s Board of Education have adopted a new teacher evaluation system, which, in Hamilton County, is entitled Project Coach. By aligning pre-service and in-service evaluation instruments and processes, the unit can ensure that candidates gain familiarity with and expertise in the proficiencies expected of Tennessee‘s teachers. These experiences support the unit‘s commitment to preparing teachers, administrators, and other school personnel to serve in diverse communities and are reflected in all clinical experiences. Effective January 2012, HCDE has begun to provide our student teachers with seminars each semester re: the phase-in of the Project Coach evaluation system. In addition, the student teacher handbooks are currently being revised to incorporate the Project Coach evaluation system.
All advanced teacher education programs require a culminating experience. Advanced level candidates are required to select a master‘s level research project, which requires them to implement a six to seven week action plan designed to improve their teaching and assessment skills.
Another project currently in the works is the Degree+3 program. The Degree+3 assessment modules, recently implemented, provide training for students in assessment procedures and data analysis. Module one begins in the Foundations of Education course and modules two and three are integrated into coursework that follows. Module four continues through the student teaching experience. Pre-service students are trained in assessment techniques, and while they are student teaching, they conduct assessments on their students. Outcomes are shared and analyzed by the student teacher, cooperating teacher, Degree+3 program faculty member, and the university supervisor.
Results of student teacher performance in this area are collected through a survey that is completed by the student teacher at the completion of each module. In addition, an open forum and focused discussion groups are held at the final student teaching seminar. This facilitates a cross-section of feedback and opportunities for continuous improvement. This assessment program is in its beginning stages and has not yet been fully implemented.