B. 2. Growth. Standard 1: Candidate Knowledge, Skills, and Professional Dispositions

B.2.A. Continuous Improvement

Academic Year Course revisions Program revisions
2008-09 579 110
2009-10 297 132

Since the last site visit, the Unit’s faculty members have been systematically working on improving the quality of candidate knowledge, skills, and professional dispositions. Multiple improvements include multiple formal curriculum change requests (since Curriculum Tracker data is available): →

Not all of the changes directly affect teacher candidates, but most outside of the Monfort College of Business aim at curriculum improvements that benefit teacher candidates. Numerous curriculum and pedagogy improvements were undertaken by faculty through informal meetings, curriculum analysis, and syllabi revisions.

The major trends in the Unit’s improvements in preparing candidates within the areas of knowledge, skills, and dispositions can be described as progressing from:

  • Course-centric to program-centric approach to curriculum
  • Separating to integrating classroom and field components
  • Subjective to data-based disposition assessment and development
  • “Just knowing what’s best” to measuring and implementing what works

Some of the most significant examples of curriculum development were delineated by addressing the following opportunities for growth:

Growth opportunity

Our Strategy

Concrete achievements

1. Elementary teacher candidates’ weaknesses in pedagogical content knowledge, literacy instruction, working with English language learners, and their understanding of the beginning of the school year Collaboratively evaluate and revise the Elementary program by analyzing available data and drawing on best national practices; monitor results. A major redesign of elementary program
2. Need to strengthen pedagogical knowledge of Secondary teacher candidates, based on assessment data and candidate surveys. Implement more Secondary focused assessment instruments, collect regular candidate and partner school feedback; ensure strong coordination among different PTEP courses, strengthen advising STEP Coordinating Council created; Candidate Portfolio and Work Sample redesigned. A unified lesson observation form and final evaluation forms with content-specific rubrics; Advising procedures and on-line resources; Staffing and compensation policies
3. Need to document and strengthen candidate knowledge of literacy, based on new Colorado Reading Directorate and our Unit’s internal assessment data Review curriculum for literacy components, critically analyze alignment issues, and develop a content knowledge examination Curriculum realigned where necessary (see sample); the Reading Content Examination is developed and piloted
4. Finding reliable means of evaluating candidates’ professional dispositions Design, pilot test, and implement a dispositions rubric Candidate Disposition Report

The timeline below highlights some of the most significant milestones reflected in NCATE Annual Reports:

2005. An Interdisciplinary Liberal Arts Major (IDLA)/Professional Teacher Education Taskforce was convened by the Unit Head and Provost to re-examine the major (IDLA; now ISET) and licensure program required of future elementary teachers. The Taskforce focused on issues of enrollment management, admission criteria, bridging content and pedagogy, and student teachers’ involvement in partner schools at the beginning of their school year. Faculty members from across the Unit and a school principal and teacher comprised the taskforce.

2006. The new Liberal Arts Core Curriculum proposed by the Commission on the University Experience and recommended by the General Education Council was approved by the Faculty Senate. The changes brought UNC’s requirements in line with the State’s and with our CCHE performance contract. Similar to the current “General Education” requirements, the new Liberal Arts Core curriculum requires 40 hours, but would allow up to nine hours of elective credit.

The newly developed Professional Dispositions Qualities (PDQ), a rubric for measuring candidates’ dispositions, was piloted in the elementary and special education programs. Cooperating teachers evaluated candidates’ with the instrument and candidates used the instrument to self-rate their own dispositions.

2007. UNC College of Education and Behavior Sciences received the 2007 Christa McAuliffe Award for excellence in teacher education from the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU). A major focus of the award proposal was to successfully document the impact our elementary and secondary teachers have on their students’ achievement.

Overall, candidate performance was recognized at the first College Honors Convocation held in mid-April during UNC’s Academic Excellence Week. Faculty from the various programs across the College selected nearly 50 candidates and students at the initial and advanced levels who demonstrated excellence in academic achievement.

2008. All candidates in the elementary program at the Center for Urban Education began earning an ESL Endorsement in addition to their initial elementary license. Previously candidates completed a concentration in English/Language Arts instead of the ESL endorsement. The new design allows the program to graduate approximately 40 additional teachers each year with an ESL endorsement and to provide an important contribution to the quality of ESL instruction in the Denver-Metro area, where most of the teachers obtain jobs following graduation.

2009. A study was conducted to further examine and document teacher candidates’ performance on various academic factors including high school GPA, ACT composite score, SAT combined score, cumulative GPA at 60 hours, cumulative GPA at 75 hours, transfer GPA, and total number of undergraduate hours.

The Unit-wide Dispositions Committee Faculty revised the PDQ and provided the Unit with a new Dispositions Rubric intended to measure “Engagement,” Effort,” “Initiative,” and “Fairness and Equity” during on-campus coursework as well as field experiences. Unlike the original PDQ, the new instrument is not based on a Likert scale, but provides clear and detailed explanations for the four performance levels: unsatisfactory, developing, proficient, and advanced. In addition, the new section of Fairness and Equity was added to align the instrument with our Unit beliefs that candidates strive to meet the educational needs of all students in a caring, non-discriminatory, and equitable manner and demonstrate the belief that all students can learn. 

A new Reading Content Examination, developed by the Reading Program faculty, was implemented as a pre and post assessment in selected literacy courses within the elementary and elementary post-baccalaureate programs during the 2009 Fall semester. Initial analysis of the pre-test results shows that at the beginning of their literacy methods courses, candidates across both programs obtained an average score of 58%. This indicates that candidates have developed a beginning level of literacy attending courses prior to methods.