Candidates’ Development and Demonstration of Knowledge, Skills, and Dispositions to Help All Students Learn
Clinical and field experiences within the unit have been systematically designed and developed to reflect institutional, state, and professional standards and serve to extend the conceptual framework from application of theory to practice. Entrance and exit criteria for clinical and field experiences exist in the transition points within the unit. At the beginning of each clinical experience, the clinical supervisor meets with the candidate and cooperating teacher to review expectations and responsibilities. During the clinical experience at the initial level, cooperating teachers and university supervisors complete formative assessments and written observations two to three times during each eight-week experience; six observations are expected for teacher candidates who are placed for full 16-week placements. These observations are then discussed with the teacher candidate, noting strengths and weaknesses along with areas for improvement. Midterm assessments are also conducted between teacher candidates and their cooperating teachers.
At the completion of the clinical experience, the clinical supervisor, cooperating teacher, and teacher candidate meet for a final conference. Both the cooperating teacher and the clinical supervisor complete the summative evaluation form, discuss the results with the candidate, and submit the evaluation forms to the Office of Clinical Experiences. Candidates who do not meet expectations as outlined in state and professional standards are not allowed to complete the clinical experience and are moved to a remedial plan or counseled out of the profession.
Success rates within clinical experiences are quite high as a result of the developmental approach to student teaching as well as our efforts to “live” our transition points to ensure that candidates have the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to participate in a culminating student teaching or internship experience. Accountability is a high priority; therefore, assessment instruments (formative and summative evaluations) and follow-up studies (candidate self-report, cooperating teacher survey, employer survey) are aligned with professional or state standards as well as the conceptual framework, allowing us to provide evidence that our candidates are demonstrating the proficiencies expected. An analysis of trend data indicates that candidates demonstrate the proficiencies as outlined in state, professional, and institutional standards in their clinical and field experiences.
Advanced Candidates and Other School Professionals
At the advanced level and for other school professionals, the expectations, time commitments, and mentor roles are discussed with cooperating professionals prior to making a placement commitment. Assessment is a key component in clinical and field experiences; therefore, the role of candidate assessment is carefully planned and implemented. For example, in the Early Childhood Special Education Program, both cooperating teachers and university supervisors complete assessments of candidate performance. These assessments yield both qualitative and quantitative data, which are interpreted to the candidate at regular intervals throughout the 16 weeks of student teaching. Teacher candidates complete two eight-week placements; one eight-week placement in a home-based program for infants and toddlers with disabilities and one eight-week placement in a community-based preschool program where young children with disabilities are included. Each clinical setting uses a phase in format that gradually transfers lead teaching from the cooperating teacher to the teacher candidate. Six narrative observational reports are completed for each of the two clinical placements; three completed by the cooperating teacher and three completed by the university supervisor. These observations are scheduled throughout the eight-week period to provide adequate and useful feedback to the candidate. In addition, the cooperating teacher completes a narrative mid-term evaluation of the candidate’s strengths and areas in need of concentration. At the conclusion of the clinical experience, both the cooperating teacher and university supervisor complete a three-page summative evaluation form where each indicator that is aligned to the program competencies is rated on a 5 point Likert scale. At this time, the cooperating teacher also completes a narrative final report.
Special education candidates develop a portfolio to document professional competencies. As a part of the portfolio, candidates provide a narrative describing how their coursework and field experiences have increased their knowledge of scientifically supported practices. The portfolio also includes a self-evaluation of candidates’ professional behavior, classroom management, and time and instructional management skills. Cooperating teachers also assess these skills during field experiences, and these forms are included in candidates’ files. INTASC Principles are assessed during formal teaching observations conducted by university supervisors. In addition, candidates conduct a self-evaluation of the Board of Teaching (BOT) content standards developed for their particular licensure area, and this self-evaluation is discussed in an exit interview with the university supervisor.
Candidates completing the School Library Media Specialist Program are assessed during the field experience in several ways. The practicum coordinator visits the candidate twice during their field experience and provides feedback to the candidate and the supervisor who is a licensed media specialist. At the end of the practicum, the supervisor completes an assessment of the candidate using a rubric; the candidate also completes a self-assessment using a similar rubric. The practicum coordinator then reviews both rubrics along with the journal and reflective paper.
School counseling candidates must demonstrate a specified level of competence of knowledge, skills, and dispositions during field and clinical experiences in order to graduate and be endorsed for licensure. First, during pre-internship field experiences, candidates are evaluated based on an analysis of their field observations as well as class discussion reports on their experiences. Second, during clinical courses, candidates are evaluated via live observation, review of video tapes, and through individual and group supervision discussions and assignments related to their counseling sessions. Finally, during internship, candidates are evaluated by their field supervisor who conducts weekly individual supervisions and submits two end-of-semester evaluations and by their faculty supervisor who evaluates their performance through case reports, group supervision, and assignments.
Candidates in the Educational Administration and Leadership Program use a professional model for evaluation as stipulated in Minnesota statute. This entails the use of an expert panel of licensed, practicing administrators along with the university or faculty supervisor to render a considered judgment of the competency level of all candidates aspiring for the K-12 principalship, superintendency, and special education directorship. The first assessment is conducted as part of the planning meeting (pre-assessment) using a candidate self-assessment instrument which is used to help the candidate plan their field experience activities based on competencies that are weak or need more attention. Formative assessment updates on the candidate's progress are provided by means of journal reports sent weekly to the university or faculty supervisor by the candidate. Upon conclusion of the field experience, a situational observation panel is used as a summative assessment to render a final judgment of the candidate's skill attainment of the administrative licensure competencies. This entails providing the candidate with several hypothetical leadership situations and asked them to respond. Evaluators use a situational observation rubric to judge the responses by the candidate. If the candidate rates below adequate, the candidate is then asked to return to the field and work on the noted deficiency. This may involve additional research with a correlating paper, or a report analyzing data, or additional field experience hours in different sites. The panel is again reconvened to determine if the candidate has passed in the particular area identified at a level commensurate with an emerging administrator.
Candidates completing their Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction complete several field experiences by engaging course projects. For example, candidates must complete a curriculum project, an assessment development project, and a lesson plan project that must be developed and used in the field, typically their own classroom. Rubrics have been developed to assess the projects using self-assessment, peer assessment, and instructor assessment.
Reflection is valued by the unit and candidates are expected to engage in serious self-reflection to enable them to justify their instructional decisions and practices during clinical practice. At the initial level, candidates are expected to send reflective journals to their clinical supervisor on a weekly basis. Some departments also have specific expectations related to reflective journals. For example the Department of Child and Family Studies expects candidates to focus on specific INTASC Principles each week as part of the reflective process. Some programs require that candidates attend seminars with their clinical supervisor or department faculty to reflect on their clinical practice with their peers. For example, the Department of Special Education requires weekly or biweekly seminars; the Department of Child and Family Studies conducts two or three required seminars during the semester; and several secondary content faculty host required seminars. Candidates are also required to attend a professional development day during their student teaching experience sponsored by the Office of Clinical Experiences, Dean's Office, and the Departments of Teacher Development, Special Education, and Child and Family Studies.
At the advanced level, the Early Childhood Special Education Program requires candidates to journal reflectively throughout their clinical placements. Reflective journals are completed on a daily basis as part of an assignment packet and submitted as a portfolio during each of the two clinical experiences. Journal content is expected to be a critical analysis of the candidate’s learning experiences in all aspects of the special education placement. Reflective journals are reviewed throughout the experience and submitted at the end of each clinical practicum, evaluated by the university supervisor, and factored into the final grade.
School counseling candidates must demonstrate a specified level of competence in self-reflection in clinical and field experiences in order to graduate and be endorsed for licensure. First, candidates are required to complete pre-internship field experiences by shadowing and interviewing school counselors. They are then required to reflect and report on what they learned through that process. Second, candidates must demonstrate self-reflection during clinical practice of individual and group counseling. Candidates demonstrate reflection skills using video, oral, and written formats during live observation and feedback sessions, and during individual and group supervision. Finally, candidates are required to make weekly oral reports of their work in individual and group supervision during their 600-hour internship.
Candidates in Educational Administration and Leadership utilize four reflective processes during their field experience: (1) candidate self-assessment instrument (based on professional competencies); (2) reflective journaling as part of field experience; (3) reflective essays for each of the licensure competencies and artifacts submitted as part of the portfolio requirement; and (4) final situational panel review. The fours processes allow for rich and reflective discussions between the candidate and the university and/or field supervisor.
Advanced candidates preparing to become school library media specialists are required to maintain a daily journal during their practicum experience. The journal is submitted on a weekly basis to the practicum coordinator who reviews it and provides feedback to the candidate. At the conclusion of the practicum experience, candidates write a four to six page reflective paper synthesizing their goals and objectives and their experience. The practicum coordinator evaluates the paper using a rubric.
The use of technology as an instructional tool is clearly an expectation of candidates and is reflected in the conceptual framework. The unit uses the National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) developed by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE).
Opportunities to use technology exist in both field and clinical experiences, but as often is the case, are dependent on the range of technology within each district where candidates are placed. Continuous access to unit technology resources facilitates preparation of teaching and learning materials. The preparatory coursework prior to clinical or field experiences prepares the candidates in the use of technology to enhance learning environments, increase student learning, and improve pedagogy. Candidates are required to demonstrate the use of technology during preparatory courses in order to practice effective utilization in field experiences and student teaching.
An example to illustrate the use of technology within a program is our special education teacher candidates who are required to use assistive technology for their students as required by the Individual Education Plan (IEP) of special education students. The assistive technology may be low technology (pencil grips, specialized calculators) or high technology (voice simulated computers); however, the technology is designed to enhance student learning. Teacher candidates in special education are also required to submit an electronic portfolio documenting the successful completion of the INTASC Principles and the Minnesota Board of Teaching Standards.
The National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) are included in the handbooks for easy reference by all stakeholders in the field/student teaching experiences. Lesson plans submitted during field experiences and student teaching as well as observations by cooperating teachers and clinical supervisors document the use of technology by candidates to enhance student learning. An analysis of trend data indicates that candidates are able to successfully integrate technology into their teaching, use educational technology to broaden student knowledge, and use a variety of media and communication tools.
At the advanced level, the use of technology is an integral part of the preparation of our candidates. For example, the Special Education and Early Childhood Special Education Programs hold three expectations. First, as a minimal expectation, all candidates are required to demonstrate the competencies outlined in the Minnesota Standards of Effective Practice involving technology. Second, programs that include students with disabilities often use a variety of technological equipment to augment classroom instruction. A successful teacher candidate is highly encouraged to glean as much experience as possible from these unique field experiences to carry forward into their own future practices. Finally, of critical importance for many students with disabilities, and thus their teacher candidates, is the use of augmentative communication devices or computerized adaptive equipment to support a student’s learning. Teacher candidates are evaluated in both formative and summative performance assessments on their ability to demonstrate proficiency in the use of such technology. These performance data are factored into the final grade for all those candidates who successfully complete the field experiences or clinical practice.
Candidates in the Educational Administration and Leadership Program have several requirements related to technology to ensure that candidates have the skills necessary for future leadership in the schools. First, candidates must develop and submit electronic portfolios as their culminating project. Second, one of the Minnesota competencies entails data-driven decision making, as such, the overall expectation is that candidates will use technology to gather, organize, and interpret data to drive decisions. For example, various types of management software and spreadsheets for scheduling, student attendance, student demographics, student achievement, budgeting, special education, community education, and human resources are all utilized by candidates in some capacity as they participate in clinical activities. Candidates must also be knowledgeable of assistive technology to support students with disabilities. And finally, candidates typically use some form of electronic survey and statistical software to design, administer, and analyze survey results for an array of data collection assignments as part of their clinical experience.
School counseling candidates must also demonstrate proficiencies related to technology including: 1) using video and/or audio recording technology to present counseling work from clinical experiences; 2) using word processing, data processing, web-based, classroom, and computer presentation technology during class presentations and reports; and 3) using school scheduling.
As might be expected, the successful use of technology is a major component of the School Library Media Program. Several of the state competencies for school library media specialists focus specifically on the use of technology. Technology use and integration are infused throughout the curriculum. Candidates are expected to use all technologies available in the schools and to assist staff and students in the use and application of technology in school settings.
Summary: Candidates in both the initial and advanced programs demonstrate mastery of content as well as pedagogy and professional knowledge as they progress through identified transition points. Assessments used in clinical and field experiences are based on professional standards and reflect the institutional standards. Field and clinical experiences allow candidates to reflect on their practice to enhance their teaching abilities and have a positive impact on student learning.