Modeling Best Professional Practices in Teaching
Faculty members within the unit are teacher-scholars who have a comprehensive understanding of the professional field. As indicated in the unit’s conceptual framework, we endorse the concept of “educator as a transformative professional” including our faculty and their effect on candidates and, ultimately, students. Faculty members align their course outcomes within syllabi to the role performances illustrated in the conceptual framework. Unit faculty members work diligently to stay current in the field and are supported in that effort through professional development resources and opportunities.
Teaching is highly valued by the unit and faculty members actively encourage the development of reflection, critical thinking, and problem-solving by incorporating a variety of instructional strategies. An analysis of syllabi was conducted by the unit to provide evidence supporting this fact. First, a random sample of 20 syllabi was drawn from professional education and support courses. Next, the syllabi were analyzed for teaching methods. Finally, a method by course table was developed. As illustrated in the table, the 20 syllabi randomly sampled from unit archives yielded 18 separate instructional methods. Also illustrated is the fact that 11 of 20 syllabi (55%) mentioned critical thinking and reflective consideration of material specifically. It is also noteworthy that most sampled courses included lecture/discussion (70%) and reading/discussion methods (60%), both of which typically include critical thinking. Clearly, faculty members in the unit have adopted a plethora of practices related to the philosophical approach adopted in the unit (a version of constructivism).
Faculty members are serious about and committed to teaching professional dispositions, diversity proficiencies, assessment, and using technology to enhance the learning process. The unit dispositions are aligned with the conceptual framework, professional standards, and unit evaluation tools and included in the transition points of programs. Dispositions tend to be systematically assessed through direct observation of candidates by faculty members in courses or clinical and field experiences or through self-assessment and reflection. The unit expects faculty members to model the dispositions as developed by the unit and outlined in the conceptual framework.
Diversity proficiencies are embedded throughout the courses within programs and are aligned with course outcomes within programs. Faculty members in the unit are not only a diverse group (comparative data available in Standard 4), but use their knowledge and skills related to diversity in a variety of ways.
Assessment is a priority in the teaching/learning process and faculty members work to engage candidates in the assessment process through reflection and self-analysis. Faculty members are committed to using multiple assessments in evaluating candidates’ knowledge, skills, and dispositions. Examples include direct and indirect measures, course and field-based measures, and internal and external measures. An exhibit titled “Assessment Practices” illustrates assessment strategies culled from the same sample of 20 syllabi randomly selected by the unit. As can be seen, a wide range of assessment strategies is employed. These include, but are not limited to, examinations, rubrics associated with group and individual performances, and assessment of knowledge, skills, and dispositions via checklists and rubrics undertaken during field and clinical experiences. As part of our Assessment System, data from our unit operations survey also provide feedback on candidates’ perception of assessment within the unit.
Technology is also used by faculty members as a tool to enhance pedagogy and candidate learning. Significant resources have been dedicated to upgrade the classrooms within the unit to provide the technology tools to enhance instruction. To illustrate, the Education Building, primary locus of courses in professional education, boasts the highest percentage of technology-enhanced classrooms outside of the Miller Learning Resources and Technology Center. Fully 72 percent of rooms in the building are technology- enhanced (data projector, computer, auditory enhancement, and internet connectivity). Nearly half of the rooms in Halenbeck Hall are now technology-enhanced. Two types of mobile carts are available consisting of either a computer and projector or 12 computers and a printer for faculty to use in their teaching and learning activities.
Faculty members have responded to the advent of instructional support medias by integrating technology into their teaching and candidate expectations. For example, in 2001, 79 courses at SCSU featured a course management systems (Web CT); in 2007, 949 courses used Desire to Learn (D2L) either as the prime mode of course delivery or as a support for face-to-face activities. Podcasts, online sources, and U-tube are among the fresh electronic technology resources utilized by faculty members and candidates (reflected in course syllabi).
Teaching effectiveness is a primary component of the systematic process of professional development and evaluation as outlined in Article 22 of the IFO Master Agreement. Faculty members who are seeking promotion or tenure are required to establish goals related to teaching and collect evidence/data on teaching effectiveness. The required Professional Development Report (PDR) provides an opportunity for faculty members to reflect on their data from course evaluations and plan changes in their teaching strategies based on candidate feedback.
Summary: A review of the syllabi provides documentation of the intellectual vitality that is apparent by the faculty within the unit. Clearly, faculty members model effective instructional practices that provide a learning environment that is stimulating and conducive to the development of professional knowledge, skills, and dispositions.