3.2. b Continuous Improvement
- Summarize activities and changes based on data that have led to continuous improvement of candidate performance and program quality.
- Discuss plans for sustaining and enhancing performance through continuous improvement as articulated in unit Standard 3.
Since the last accreditation visit (2006), unit faculty expressed concerns regarding the quality of reflections candidates write. Faculty suggested more support available to candidates that encourages them to think about field experiences and PPD seminars. As a result, the Field Experience Summary form was revised and guiding questions were included on the back side of the form. This revision now allows candidates to critically reflect about what they are observing and experiencing as they assist or provide instruction. Written reflections have improved (KTS Reflection data).
The second improvement involved a revision of the Field Experience Summary Form in ways that better capture the variety of field experiences and the observable diversities. The checklists and coding system available on the form serves as a deliberate way to focus and to document the types of field experiences in which candidates are engaged. Another modification to the form is the candidate’s signature verifying that the field work was completed and original. A statement was made to ensure the authenticity of the original work.
A third improvement to the field experience component is the creation of a new Field Experience Guidelines document to be used as a communication tool. The guidelines include a rationale indicating that field hours are structured in intentional and purposeful ways to actively engage candidates in the development of knowledge, skills, and dispositions for effective teaching. The field experiences are valuable in the preparation for clinical practice (student teaching/clinicals) and internship (employment). This document is included with course syllabi and faculty clearly discuss the field experience requirements in class. Field experience assignments include a point value for evaluation and late work may indicate a lower grade for this assignment. Other important standards and expectations for professional behavior during field experiences are discussed in class. Candidates are representatives of the teaching profession, which requires consistent maintenance of professional dispositions. Specifically, candidates are expected to be dressed and groomed appropriately. Caution is expected regarding inappropriate behaviors including the use of cell phones, texting, gossiping, and over-friendliness with students.
A fourth improvement for the overall quality of field experiences is an increase in the number of field hours from 120 hours to 200 clock hours. This increase is according to a new state regulation, (16 KAR 5:040) effective September 1, 2013 that indicates more experiences in schools and related agencies, including Family Resource Centers or Youth Service Centers. Although CU currently requires many of these experiences in specific courses, one change has included the number of field hours assigned per course. A new matrix for the undergraduate P-12 programs has been revised, effective fall 2012. The IECE undergraduate program currently requires 200 hours prior to clinicals. A re-examination of the Field Experience Matrix requirements is an important enhancement for the quality of experiences better aligned with the ideas expressed in the NCATE Blue Ribbon Panel Report. This programmatic change will allow candidates more time engaged in opportunities to enhance the content, process, and self-efficacy that contributes to a positive impact in student learning.
A fifth program improvement is the development of a new co-teaching model for clinical practice. The rationale for the Paired Educators Clinical Model is influenced by the new Kentucky regulation, (16 KAR 5:040) effective September 1, 2013, which stipulates that educator preparation institutions shall provide opportunities for the student teacher to assume major responsibility for the full range of teaching duties, including extended co-teaching experiences, in a real school situation under the guidance of qualified personnel from the educator preparation institution. Several unit faculty attended a training session in Minneapolis provided by faculty from St. Cloud University. CU is currently working on an implementation plan to provide for co-teaching opportunities, beginning with a pilot in two local school district (Campbellsville Independent Schools and Taylor County Schools). Lastly, a revised evaluation tool for student teaching is scheduled for implementation fall 2012. The revision is resulting in a change from a pass/fail system to a graded system.
Through developmentally appropriate, intentional field experiences, candidates learn to plan, deliver, and evaluate instruction for P-12 learners. Candidates apply newly gained knowledge and skills in diverse field settings and have many opportunities to develop proficiencies throughout initial and advanced programs.