Growing Forward: An Account of a Major Revision in One Elementary Education Program

Growing Forward: An Account of a Major Revision in One Elementary Education Program

Barbara J. McClanahan, Susan L. Morrison, Maribeth Nottingham
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-8725-6.ch011
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This chapter describes the efforts of an elementary education faculty to revamp the undergraduate elementary education program at their university to better align with state requirements for certification. The purpose of the chapter is to provide insight to other teacher educators who may feel a need to revise their programs. The authors begin by sharing the background of their institution and its role in preparing teachers for the region of the state in which it is located. They then identify the rationale for making the changes, describe the old program, and explain the procedures followed in planning and implementing the changes. They next share expected and unexpected problems they encountered in the implementation of the program and discuss some solutions found and some still being considered. They close with a discussion of actions to take to maintain the relevance of the program.
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Literature Review

Much of the research literature relating to the ability of the nation’s teacher preparation programs (TPPs) to produce competent teachers has focused on their structure (Zeichner & Conklin, 2005). The traditional TPP is generally considered to be a 4-year program housed in a university leading to a bachelor’s degree. These researchers contrasted such programs with 5-year university programs and various forms of alternative programs by looking at all the relevant studies available. Both of these structures include a foundation in more general knowledge through courses taken during the first two years of college in liberal arts and general education (Nguyen, 2018). Zeichner and Conklin found that “few definitive statements can be made about the effects of different structural models of preservice teacher education based on this body of research” (p. 698).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Teacher Certification: Approval given by the state to an individual to teach specific content and grade levels at public schools within the state.

Certification Testing: The administration of certain tests offered by third parties with whom the state has contracted to administer as part of requirements for teacher certification.

Curriculum Redesign (in a Preservice Program): To redesign and restructure subjects comprising a course of study, in this case literacy for students planning to become teachers.

Course Descriptors: A brief description or overview describing course requirements.

Teacher Candidates: Undergraduate students enrolled in a university who are seeking a Bachelor's Degree in Education (e.g., Elementary Education) which leads to teacher certification.

Elementary Education: A section of the education continuum that focuses on children from first to eighth grades.

Literacy Progression: Progressing from the most basic elements of reading/literacy to the most mature levels of reading/literacy.

Literacy Curriculum: The prescribed and required courses related to reading and language arts that teacher candidates are required to take to fulfill degree requirements in Elementary Education.

Preservice: Referring to teacher candidates or education students who have not completed an initial education degree or been certified by the state to teach.

Primary Literacy: The stages of reading that children progress through from first through third grades; these grade levels focus on phonics and word recognition, as well as vocabulary and comprehension.

Satellite Campus: A site where university education is offered that is separate from and at some distance from the main campus.

Intermediate Literacy: The stages of reading that children progress through from late third through sixth grade; students at this level deepen their use of comprehension and vocabulary strategies in both print and non-print texts.

Early Literacy: The beginning stages of emergent reading, or learning to read; often specifying Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten grade levels and focusing on language development, phonemic awareness, and early phonics.

Desk Copies: Textbooks that are typically requested free of charge by a professor from a publisher for potential use/adoption in a college class.

Curriculum Alignment: The process in which educators formally evaluate a course or an educational program aligning it to fit set standards and ensure appropriate progression through the content.

Teacher Education: A course of study generally offered through a university that is designed to prepare teacher candidates for teaching in public school classrooms from Pre-K through high school.

Artifact: A formal assignment submitted by a teacher candidate to document learning of the specific topics and concepts presented in a particular course.

Adolescent Literacy: The stages of reading that children progress through from mid-sixth grade through eighth grade; students at these grade levels consolidate reading strategies to use independently and begin applying them in content disciplines.

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