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5b. Modeling Best Professional Practices in TeachiNG

5b.1.     Describe how the unit will ensure that professional education faculty teaching reflects the conceptual framework as well as current research and developments in the field.

The unit will ensure that professional education faculty teaching reflects the conceptual framework as well as current research and developments in the field through the systematic assessment of course evaluations completed by teacher candidates each semester and through the use of peer evaluations annually. The conceptual framework forms the foundation for teaching by professional education faculty members.  All course syllabi have objectives linked to the conceptual framework and the PSC professional standards.  All course syllabi are reviewed each semester by the Division Chair for current research and development in the field before being submitted to the Associate Dean of Academic Operations.  Additionally, the Education Division Curriculum Committee meets twice a semester to review existing course syllabi for alignment of course outcomes with course assignments and evaluation measures, alignment with the Division conceptual framework and PSC content standards, and incorporation of current research and developments in the field.  The Curriculum Committee also reviews and approves all new course syllabi for these criteria prior to submitting them to the University Academic Council for approval.  Methods of instruction identified on course syllabi reveal proven methods of instruction such as alternative assessment, differentiated instruction, cooperative learning, and other research-based strategies are a part of each course. Clinical and field based experiences are evaluated with forms built on the conceptual framework.

5b.2.      Describe how the unit will ensure that professional education faculty teaching encourages the development of reflection, critical thinking, problem solving, and professional dispositions. 

The unit will ensure that professional education faculty teaching encourages the development of reflection, based on critical thinking, problem solving, and professional dispositions through the systematic assessment of course evaluations completed by teacher candidates each semester and through the use of peer evaluations annually. The conceptual framework forms the foundation for teaching by professional education faculty members and the professional practices of reflection, critical thinking and problem solving, and professional dispositions are each articulated components of the framework. The philosophy inherent to the conceptual framework of the teacher preparation unit at Thomas University is the principles of a constructivist paradigm.  The adoption of a developmental approach to teacher preparation provides the rationale to personalize the education of both traditional and nontraditional aged professionals, as well as supporting the constructivist paradigm for teaching and learning. Learning experiences are designed that are cumulative in nature and move the teacher candidate from “exploratory” performance towards “empowered” expertise. Professional education faculty use a wide variety of instructional strategies to promote candidate learning, reflection, critical thinking, problem solving, and professional dispositions. A review of course syllabi reveals examples of collaborative learning, field trips, simulations, microteaching, blogs, multimedia, reflection papers, portfolios, conference attendance and participation, case studies of PK-12 students, case studies of schools, web quests, graphic organizers, research reviews, problem solving, games, learning centers, diagnosis and remediation of learner’s achievement, and many others. 

5b.3.      Describe how the unit will ensure that professional education faculty teaching models expected instructional strategies and use of assessments.

The unit will ensure that professional education faculty teaching models expected instructional strategies and use of assessments through the systematic assessment of course evaluations completed by teacher candidates each semester and through the use of peer evaluations annually. As stated in the unit mission, unit faculty members are committed to excellence in teaching and learning as they continually engage in reflective practice and are committed to lifelong learning. Thomas University is essentially a teaching university and therefore the unit hires faculty who, first and foremost, are committed to modeling best professional practices in teaching. Faculty have an in depth understanding of their field and are teacher scholars who integrate what is known about their content fields, teaching, and learning into their own instructional practices. Faculty degrees and experiences, as indicated on vitae, validate that they have knowledge and experience in the content area they teach.

Syllabi for unit courses further document faculty emphasis on multiple approaches to teaching, and the use of assessment. All course syllabi of the unit reflect a direct link to the conceptual framework and the emphasis on reflective practice. Faculty incorporate a variety of sound pedagogical strategies including use of technology, microteaching, case studies, reflective discussions, simulations, research projects, and class presentations.  Unit faculty members report using and modeling both formative and summative assessment strategies in their courses, as well as using traditional and authentic assessments. Faculty members use written essay and multiple tests (in-class and take home exams), skills assessment of selected performances such as demonstration of selected psychomotor skills, oral presentations, evaluation of lessons taught, authentic interviews, lesson and unit plans, and reflections on field experiences. Assessments also include the use of checklists, rubrics, reflective papers and journals, annotated bibliographies, lab reports, critique of research articles, completion of literature reviews, online and classroom discussions, re- and post-surveys, midterm and final written exams, research papers, projects, group projects, and e-portfolios.

5b.4.      Describe how the unit will ensure that professional education faculty members incorporate technology into instruction.

The unit will ensure that professional education faculty members incorporate technology into instruction through the systematic assessment of course evaluations completed by teacher candidates each semester and through the use of peer evaluations annually. Faculty have multiple technology resources at their disposal for teaching and learning; many of these uses are mandated as part of the teaching and learning process for teacher candidates.  Students and faculty are required to utilize their portal access to Hawklink (CAMS), T.U.’s fully-integrated internet-based student records system which enables online registration; student portal access to financial aid, billing, unofficial transcripts, and course Blackboard shells; faculty portal access to advisees’ student records for advising and to automated grade reporting. 

All students and faculty are assigned Thomas University e-mail accounts.  Every syllabus states that students are expected to use T.U. e-mail as faculty, administrative and student services offices will communicate exclusively through this media for e-mail.  Faculty are required to check T.U. e-mail daily and expected to be adept with the features of Outlook for communication and calendars.

All education faculty and teacher candidates must effectively utilize LiveText.  Faculty are required to record student assessment in the system, to use the system to evaluate student progress, and to assist students in building components of the E-folio throughout their progress in the programs.  In addition, all faculty members are required to use a Blackboard Learn course shell to provide course resources and communication for each course regardless of delivery mode.  Hybrid or online classes must fully use the Blackboard course site to create meaningful instruction, interaction between instructor and classmates, provide feedback on assignments, and utilize gradebook functions.  All faculty are expected to have competent skills using Microsoft Office suite programs.  Use of Word, PowerPoint, and Publisher are required in Education course assignments as evidenced in course syllabi.  In the same way, certain courses specify teaching and learning utilizing smartboard technology and pedagogy; this is evident in course syllabi.  Other course assignments require demonstration of mastery of internet search skills and use of GALILEO and other scholarly databases; professors along with librarians provide instruction for these skills.

5b.5.      Describe how the unit will ensure that faculty members systematically engage in self-assessment of their own teaching.

Thomas University and the education division are committed to quality teaching, and faculty are regularly assessed through an evaluation of their teaching performance which includes student course evaluations and chair and/or peer evaluations. Strong student evaluations; availability to students, professional rapport with students, appropriate and rigorous course content,  scholarly and current command of subject matter are all aspects of teaching excellence at Thomas University. Additionally, reflection on and fulfillment of goals for the previous academic year are part of the self-assessment process. The formal evaluation process requires faculty to annually submit a Reflective Self Profile demonstrating teaching effectiveness, scholarship/professional development, and service activities.  As part of the annual evaluation process, the faculty member identifies one to three goals in each area for the following academic year. The Division Chair and faculty member discuss the faculty member’s annual performance and ways in which ongoing reflection and growth of the faculty member’s teaching can be supported. Peer evaluation also provides a mechanism for stimulating self-reflection through conversations with a professional colleague during the pre-observation and post-observations exchanges.

Education that Engages... Empowers... TRANSFORMS

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