4.1 How does the unit prepare candidates to work effectively with all students, including individuals of different ethnicity, race, socioeconomic status, gender, exceptionalities, language, religion, sexual orientation, and/or geographical area?
In order to provide the maximum opportunity to learn about and interact with members of demographic groups different from themselves, the unit has made multiple efforts to 1) identify and assess dispositions and competencies related to diversity, 2) incorporate aspects of diversity in program curricula, study, and assessments 3) provide wide ranging opportunities to study with a diverse group of students and faculty members, 4) facilitate first-hand collaborative experiences with a diverse student cohort, and 5) establish fieldwork in diverse settings (student teaching in diverse schools).
As an Engaged Metropolitan University, UTC strives to serve the greater metropolitan area. The campus sits in the heart of downtown Chattanooga, bordering historic neighborhoods of Fort Wood the MLK Boulevard community, businesses, churches, and office buildings. Two public schools (PK-12 and PK-5) are within walking distance of the campus, with a third (PK-5) only a few blocks further away. Chattanooga proper and the Hamilton County area are very diverse, and the population is changing due to an influx of businesses and their employees. This diversity is reflected in student populations (e.g., students who speak over 40 different languages attend school in the Hamilton County public system).
The Unit’s Conceptual Framework features a Reflective Practitioner, surrounded by a triad of Professionalism, Performance, and Partnerships logo. All aspects of diversity are valued and reflected through various components of the unit’s course work, programs, personnel, and partnerships. Standard 4a is exemplified through multiple activities and measures including course content and assignments, self-reflections, field work and clinical experiences, and formal summative assessments. Unit faculty also have made a strong commitment to identify and develop important dispositions in candidates for recognizing, understanding, and celebrating diversity.
Candidates are held to high standards in course work, must exhibit professional behavior as indicated by dispositions in P-12 and university classrooms, and indicate achievement through summative assessments. Checkpoints are established during candidates’ experience to assure adequate and effective development and competencies. The State of Tennessee requires that candidates pass proficiency exams prior to earning certification.
All unit programs offer candidates rich course-based experiences. Initial candidates take introductory courses in special education EDUC 4000, EDUC 2090, EDUC 3090 and graduate candidates complete courses in diversity, disabilities, and/or diverse families (e.g., EDSP 5170, EPSY 6250, EDUC 5080, EDAS 5730). Some courses are taught or co-taught by personnel from the Office of Student Diversity, English as a Secondary Language program, and HCDE. In an attempt to provide maximum expertise in student diversity, all Early Childhood candidates earn certification in both general and special education. Unit faculty worked collaboratively to merge competencies form both disciplines into course work and field experiences.
Assignments that focus on diversity awareness, knowledge, and application can be found in program undergraduate and graduate course syllabi. All students in the introductory education foundations course, EDUC 2010, have opportunities to hear from and engage with representatives from local social services such as Bethlehem Children’s Center, Boys and Girls Clubs , La Paz to choose placements for field work. Candidates make lesson plan adaptations and accommodations for students with disabilities in the following courses: EDUC 3210, EDUC 3230, EDUC 3170, EDUC 4510, UTSM 2020, UTSM 4010 and USTU 3400.
Unit initial and advanced degree candidates may complete field experiences and clinical placements in numerous P-12 schools which afford them multiple opportunities to experience and work with diverse populations. For 16 years, the UTC-HCDE partnership for Professional Development School I program has provided education majors full time, intensive classroom opportunities and over 62% participate. Field work aligns with course objectives and measures are in place to determine candidate competencies and dispositions.
Other carefully selected and coordinated placements, such as the Orange Grove Center and specialized magnet schools: Chattanooga School for Arts and Sciences, Normal Park Museum Magnet, Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy, and schools with high numbers of English Language Learners offer tailored experiences to match students' major and interest areas. All field work aligns with course objectives and measures are in place to determine candidate competencies and dispositions.
Culminating field placement experiences of student teaching and internships allow both initial and graduate candidates opportunities to implement strategies and interventions explored and developed during course work. These placements are carefully supervised and monitored both by community-based supervisors as well as UTC personnel and performance data are collected through instruments and observations (Final evaluation; Pre-post Assessment; Student Teacher portfolio).
Multiple measures are used to assess candidate knowledge, beliefs, and values regarding diversity issues (Final evaluation; Teacher interview protocol). The interview process was standardized to assess candidates’ knowledge and dispositions during a collaborative discussion prior to admission to the Teacher Education Program. The unit faculty also committed to making candidates effective data consumers by initiating the Degree+3 program. Candidates must successfully complete multiple modules at program intervals in order to become competent in reading and analyzing both aggregated and disaggregated student performance data. Unit faculty support candidates in State mandated Praxis II test preparations by providing review materials and sessions.
UTC and the Professional Education Unit appreciate the importance of faculty diversity and are proud of efforts to educate campus members through the Diversity Instruction Program. The Office of Equity and Diversity solidifies this through the selection and retainment process of employees. Of 462 full-time faculty members in fall, 2010, 14% were racial/ethnic minorities and 45% women. Operating Principle 3.2 covers diversity issues and has been implemented campus-wide. Despite national competition for minority candidates, minorities represent 15% of full-time unit members.
Faculty awareness, knowledge, and skills also are reflected in individual interests and experiences. The Unit faculty members have excellent credentials for teaching about diversity (Faculty Diversity Expertise). Additionally, candidates have multiple opportunities to take part in campus-based presentations and activities such as those sponsored by the Women’s Center, Foreign Language department, and OSD. A number of faculty in the Unit have participated in trainings offered by the Office of Equity and Diversity. These include “Is it Bias?Gender, Sexual Orientation and Workplace Issues,” “Diversity Training”, and other sessions.
UTC’s student population is diverse. Over 25% of the students are from ethnic groups other than white/non Hispanic. Twenty five percent are 25 years of age or older and the male/female ratio is 45.4% to 55.6%. General Education course experiences provide opportunities to interact with and work with this diverse population with those experiences continuing into program specific courses and field experiences. Many courses are heavily focused on cohort collaboration and education candidates develop collaborative curriculum units. Student professional organizations provide additional opportunities.
The Professional Education personnel and faculty have made a committed and concerted effort to develop and maintain collaborative partnerships with HCDE and community personnel to afford candidates a wide range of experiences during their respective programs. These placements offer opportunities to observe, interact with, and teach students from diverse populations. Student demographic data regarding characteristics of minority/ethnic group, socioeconomic status, and language acquisition are used to make placements in schools with diverse populations in order for students to have varied experiences.
Two placements, Siskin Children’s Institute and Signal Centers are specialized facilities for young children with disabilities. A third facility, Orange Grove Center, provides an opportunity to interact in a full-time program for individual with intellectual disabilities or developmental disabilities, ages youth to senior citizen. The La Paz Organization provides supports and services for the city’s large and growing Latino population. Among other experiences, unit candidates complete field experience hours or practicum tutoring children from the Latino community in an on-going program that also presents opportunities to practice teaching strategies and methods.
SOE faculty members and administrators revised and expanded the English as a Second Language (ESL) endorsement program delivery and experience through grant funded professional development workshops and courses and tailored practica. Courses were moved online to afford greater opportunities for study access. As a result of these changes, 25% of candidates graduating earn the ESL endorsement.
Multiple factors and efforts across the community, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga campus, and the Unit combine to maximize opportunities in course work, field experiences, and relationships. The unit is committed to, and proud of its commitment to diversity.