Joint Professional Development of Teacher Candidates and Mentoring Teachers in Using Project-Based Learning for 21st Century Learning Outcomes

Joint Professional Development of Teacher Candidates and Mentoring Teachers in Using Project-Based Learning for 21st Century Learning Outcomes

Neal Shambaugh (West Virginia University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9948-9.ch006
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One teaching strategy that engages students and teachers in 21st century learning outcomes is project-based learning (PBL). This chapter documents two years of professional development with PBL involving 72 teacher candidates, 19 public schools, and 41 mentoring teachers who jointly created, taught, and evaluated 43 PBL units. An online teacher education course structured the professional development over the last semester for teacher candidates. The semester-long course used the state's professional development materials to structure the design, teaching, and evaluation of the PBL units. The chapter is organized around four main ideas. (1) PBL is an appropriate over-arching teaching approach for classroom teachers to address 21st century learning outcomes. (2) PBL teaching provides teachers a relevant setting for media and technology use. (3) PBL implementation requires ongoing professional development and mentoring. (4) Professional development and PBL teaching can involve both teacher candidates and their mentoring teachers learning from each other.
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Professional Development Context Of Schools

To understand the joint use of PBL by teacher candidates and practicing teachers, the context of the PDS model needs to be provided. While a PDS teacher education model requires substantial resources of funds and time, one value of the model is that teachers are “at the table” and simultaneous renewal is an explicit goal of teacher education and public schools.

Program Overview

The program is an integrated five-year, dual-degree program in which students simultaneously pursue a Bachelor’s degree in a content specialization and a Master of Arts in Education. In years 1 and 2 undergraduates volunteer to spend 60 hours in an approved educational setting and experience schools. Students enter the program in year 3 of their undergraduate program and begin six sequenced clinical experiences known as practica. Year 3 students spend 2 hours per week in a PDS. Year 4 students spend 5 hours per week in the fall semester and 14 hours per week in the spring semester. Year 5 students spend their entire fall semester engaged in full-time teaching responsibilities in a PDS. During their final spring semester, these fifth year students spend 135 hours engaged in their own professional development and assist in the professional development of their school’s faculties. All decision-making rests primarily with the participants of the program; namely, the joint involvement of public school teachers and administrators, and university faculty. Localized PDS site-specific decision-making is key to the success of the development of teacher candidates and experienced teachers. The key to making a PDS model work well is a continual re-examination of program goals and features, a working principle in PDS work known as simultaneous renewal (Dempsey, Dempsey, Steel, & Shambaugh, 2007). The joint involvement of all stakeholders enables people to consider issues and subsequent decisions. To apply this philosophical orientation, a supporting organizational structure is necessary.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Common Core: A set of learning standards organized by content area, such as reading and math, that have been adopted by most U. S. states and serve to standardize the standards.

Entry Event: An activity used by a teacher to introduces students to a compelling question, issue, or problem and an activity that stimulates their curiosity to learn more.

Professional Learning Communities (PLC): Work teams in public schools usually organized around grade levels to investigate specific topics for professional development.

Professional Development School: A college or public school that formally commits to ongoing improvement of teaching in their schools, including pre-service and professional teachers.

21st Century Learning Standards: Courses that include both in-person class meetings as well as online activities that substitute for at least a portion of the required in-class time.

Practica: The set of college courses in which the activity occurs in an educational setting, usually a public school.

Driving Question: A teacher prompt but developed by students for student research, problem-solving and designing.

National Educational Technology Standards (NETS): Developed by the International Society for Technology in Education or ISTE. Standards were developed for students, teachers, and administrators.

Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC): A group of state and national organizations, which provide standards for teacher education and on-going development of teachers. The model core teaching Standards have been used to evaluate teacher education programs.

Professional Development: The term used for activities in which educators improve their knowledge, skills, and attitudes.

Praxis: A test series (published by the Educational Testing Service) taken by prospective teachers as part of a certification process required by states and professional licensing organizations.

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