Assessing Program Outcomes of an M.Ed. Curriculum and Instruction Program: A Comparison of Face-to-Face to Completely Online Deliverables

Assessing Program Outcomes of an M.Ed. Curriculum and Instruction Program: A Comparison of Face-to-Face to Completely Online Deliverables

James A. Telese (University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, USA) and Gregory Chamblee (Georgia Southern University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1476-4.ch002

Abstract

Many mathematics education degree programs, especially at the graduate level, are now transitioning to an online format. There is a need to document how mathematics content and content pedagogy are assessed in an online environment. The objectives of this chapter are to document how a public higher education institution in Texas transitioned their master's degree program for mathematics teachers from a face-to-face program to an online program and how this transition impacted the assessment process related to the learning of content and pedagogical content knowledge.
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Introduction

The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics in their publication, Principles to Actions: Ensuring Mathematical Success for All [Principles to Actions] (2014), states “developing expertise as a mathematics teacher is a career-long process. The knowledge base of effective mathematics teaching and learning is continually expanding” (p. 102). The Conference Board of the Mathematical Sciences (2012) also noted the need for teachers of mathematics to continue their mathematical content and content-pedagogical knowledge over their career. It is necessary for teachers to demand opportunities for professional development and collaboration that improves their pedagogical content knowledge and pedagogical strategies (NCTM, 2014).

There has been a shift in professional development toward an online format. For example, Dede, Ketelhut, Whitehouse, Breit, & McClokey (2009) conducted a meta-analysis of online, face-to-face, and hybrid teacher professional development programs and found that the major foci of research were (1) program design, (2) program effectiveness, (3) program technical design, and (4) learner interactions. Dede et al. stated program effectiveness research focuses on studies which “looked largely at self-reports on participant satisfaction and short-term pedagogical change outcomes” (p. 11). Dede et al. concluded this research “generally involved evaluative studies that derive their findings from course participant surveys (p. 11). This paradigm also applies to online program research in general.

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) defined a distance education program as a program for which all the required coursework for program completion is able to be completed via distance education courses (Miller, Topper, & Richardson, 2017); and considered a distance education course as “a course in which the instructional content is delivered exclusively via distance education. Requirements for coming to campus for orientation, testing, or academic support services do not exclude a course from being classified as distance education” (Miller et al., 2017, p. 11); and, distance education as “an option for earning course credit at off-campus locations via cable television, internet, satellite classes, videotapes, correspondence courses, or other means (Miller, et al., 2017, p. 11). Sener (2010) stated “online education is higher education’s chief growth engine and enables higher education to scale rapidly while maintaining its broad array of offerings” (p. 6). Allen & Seaman (2005) found sixty-five percent of schools offering graduate face-to-face courses also offer graduate courses online and among all schools offering face-to-face Master’s degree programs, 44% also offer Master’s programs online (p. 1). NCES Digest for Education Statistics (2019) fall 2017 enrollment report noted 6,651,536 students were enrolled in distance education courses at degree-granting postsecondary institutions. More specifically, 1,142,919 post-baccalaureate students were enrolled in any distance education course at degree-granting postsecondary institutions with 868,708 post-baccalaureate students enrolled in exclusively distance education courses.

The ability to transition graduate-level mathematics education face-to-face programs to an online format is a complex process. The objectives of this chapter are to document how a public higher education institution in Texas transitioned their master’s degree program for mathematics teachers from a face-to-face program to an online program and how this transition impacted the assessment process related to the learning of content and pedagogical content knowledge.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Distance Education: An education program where the students learning experiences are conducted using an electronic platform such as Blackboard, synchronously or asynchronously.

Asynchronous: A distance education modality where learners engage in course content without direct guidance from an instructor outside the constraints of time and place.

Student Learning Outcomes: The program’s objectives that each candidate is to meet.

Pedagogical Content Knowledge: The special nature of subject matter knowledge needed by teachers who understand both the content as well as strategies for effective communication of that content.

e-Portfolio: A collection of candidates’ work samples that are housed on a website to document their knowledge and skills relative to student learning outcomes as a form a final capstone assessment.

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