D. 1. Narrative. Standard 3: Field Experiences and Clinical Practice

The distinctive features of our Unit’s approach to field experiences and clinical practice are as follows:

  • The collaboration with our school partners is flexible, comprehensive, and intentional
  • The cycle of design, implementation and evaluation is informed by data, pragmatic, and purposeful
  • We treat field and clinical work as both cumulative and culminating work; it allows us to conduct comprehensive assessment of candidates’ professional readiness, and set candidates on the course of life-long learning.

Collaboration Between Unit And School Partners


The Unit’s collaboration with local and distant districts and schools represents a wide range of relationships, that reflect on the various needs and circumstances of our partners: from a close professional collaboration to a one-time instance of placing a candidate in a foreign country. The needs of our partners are as dynamic as our own: districts change curriculum, renew leadership, and negotiate their accountability obligations with the State. We therefore prefer to be flexible: while collaboratively developing fundamental policies and standard Memorandum of Understanding; we highly value pragmatic, project-based collaboration. For example, a district may heavily rely on our faculty expertise in Math and Social Studies for professional development and curriculum design, but take some time out to reconstitute its new literacy program. Another district may request a break from student teaching placements for a semester, because of the number of schools on academic watch, and yet it continues provide input on our program changes, and still continues to welcome school psychologists or future principals for internships. To achieve this level of flexibility, we maintain multiple but coordinated channels of communication: from the formal Partnership Council to countless connections among our programs and individual faculty, to a regular cup of coffee between the Dean of CEBS and the Superintendant of Greeley schools.


The following list of key activities represents the most common type of relationships previously developed with the six local school districts, where we place the majority of candidates and provide most services.

Focus groups, professional development. In 2008/09, CEBS conducted a focus group study, and created a report summarizing qualitative feedback from our partners; previously discussed in Standard 1. In the Spring 2010, a panel “What should a classroom teacher know about assessment” invited partner districts’ assessment coordinators to present to UNC teacher education faculty. A number of teacher education faculty members attended Greeley Schools’ literacy training for teacher candidates. The District’s curriculum leaders collaborated with TE faculty to redesign field experience courses.

Building-level partnerships including placement. The Secondary PTEP Partnership schools is the best, but by no means a unique example. The schools, in general, provide certain number of placements; in turn, UNC provides free professional development on demand. The format and content of placements are always discussed with specific buildings and districts. Each building has a partnership coordinator. The student teaching placement is centralized: the full time coordinator tracks various districts’ policies and preferences. Each cooperating teacher is asked to formally evaluate his or her experience with UNC and provide qualitative feedback.

Grants and other curriculum development partnerships. The list of recent grants provides an indication of the extent of the Unit faculty involvement with K-12 partners. However, projects are not limited to K-12 curriculum. For example, Greeley Schools’ leadership is involved in re-designing our Emergent Literacy course with a significant field experience.

K-20 recruitment activities. UNC routinely provides a number of preview days for high school seniors and juniors from the immediate area. Greeley Schools’ graduates are offered a special Greeley Promise Scholarship. We have worked on providing more opportunities for concurrent enrollments for students. Conversely, all partner districts participate in UNC’s unique Teacher Employment Days. The local chapter of the Colorado Education Association has been sponsoring resume writing and an interview workshop for graduating seniors.

Celebration of partnership. The College has a long-standing tradition of recognizing the most supportive partner schools at its annual CEBS Spring Recognition Reception. Conversely, our partner districts recognize our contribution. For example, a number of UNC faculty were invited to serve on District 6 Blue Ribbon panel, which developed an important mill levy proposal. A retired UNC faculty member and administrator is the Chair of that district’s Board.

Service learning partnership. The Bear Hug Foundation was created by TE Faculty to facilitate the numerous service learning opportunities available to candidates. Its list of completed projects includes tutoring service and the provision of over 1000 gifts for local children.


Collaboration with our partners is an intentional, on-going process. The professional bridges cannot be built once and for all; they require constant renewal and strengthening. Each program has its own way of doing it, but the Unit leadership provides guiding, support, and accountability to make the partnership network a success. The key elements of the intentional partnership are these:

Partnership task force includes representatives of all local districts; it meets once or twice per semester to discuss general partnership issues, new developments in partners’ policies and operations, and a range of other issues. As a recent example, the members were presented with a draft of the redesigned Elementary Postbaccalaureate program, which reflected their own suggestions and feedback about UNC programs. See sample minutes.

The Professional Education Council (See Standards 1 and 6) includes K-12 representatives and takes their interests and input into consideration when making any significant policy and curriculum decision.

Common policy has been established to provide predictability and consistency in field placements and to protect districts’ and buildings’ interests and priorities. It is critical for a Unit of our size not to overwhelm our partners with multiple requests for placements. For example, see the universal placement procedures and the student teaching policies.

Design, Implementation, and Evaluation of Field Experiences

The design of field experiences for all Initial Programs is framed by the requirements of the "Colorado Educator Licensing Act of 1991,” which requires 800 hours of total field experience. All initial programs require three or four different field experiences; from an early field experience limited to observations, to a full 16-weeks student teaching. Advanced programs include courses focused on application theory to practice. Field experiences are designed to include the following features:

  • Collaboration with other candidates (through seminar components)
  • Collaboration with UNC supervisors (required number of formal observations)
  • Focus on improving candidate’s own teaching through classroom assessment (the use of lesson observation forms, mid-term, and final evaluation forms)

Staff. A full time Student Teaching Placement coordinator places between 150 and 300 initial program candidates each semester. Early and intermediate field placements are done by various program assistants and coordinators. Program coordinators may receive a course release or perform their duties as service. Advanced programs’ placement practices vary depending on their audience: the in-service teachers and other educational professionals will apply their knowledge to their current settings or they may be placed elsewhere for an internship. MA in Reading program arranges local children to come to one of UNC’s locations to receive tutoring.

Clinical faculty. The Secondary and K-12 initial program candidates are supervised almost exclusively by UNC full-time faculty for both intermediate and final student teaching placements. This is possible because of the extraordinary level of commitment to the program by all departments. The same is true for most advanced programs. Elementary and early childhood programs rely heavily on part-time faculty, mainly for economic reasons. To monitor quality of adjunct clinical faculty, the Unit uses a rigorous screening procedure, constant evaluation of clinical faculty performance, training and resource availability, and encourages close contact with program coordinators.

The multiple sets of data we collect and analyze demonstrate proficiencies that support learning by all students. While it is difficult to aggregate field experience data across all programs, these are some examples of data reports from field experiences: Elementary and Secondary Fall 09 reports.

Assessment of field experiences

Initial Programs use teacher work sample methodology to document that candidates can conduct and analyze formative and summative assessment data, document student learning, and to inform their instructional practices. The core elements of the methodology include: rationale statement with regard to the teaching/learning context/setting, statement of relevance to students, alignment of P-12 content standards, instructional goals and objectives, pre-instruction assessment plans, lesson plans and instructional objectives based on pre-instruction assessment, post-instruction assessment plans, analysis of student learning data disaggregated by individual students and groups, an evaluative essay, and a reflective essay. The completed work samples document candidates’ impact on learning in terms of individual students and classes. The Elementary Capstone project is available in the Student Teaching Handbook; the Secondary Work Sample Guide is posted as a separate document.

Analysis of data from the elementary programs’ capstone project demonstrates candidates’ impact on student learning by earning a “proficient” or “advanced” level of proficiency.  Candidates earning a “developing” score are given an extended learning opportunity and must successfully complete the project.

Thematic Unit Aggregate Data for Elementary 2005-2009. A- Advanced; P- Proficient; D- Developing


Elementary PTEP2005-2009 N= 598 Center for Urban Education 2007-2009 N= 58 Elementary Post Bac 2007-2009 N= 91 Early Childhood Education 2008-2009 N= 4 Aggregate of All Elementary Programs N= 751


Lesson Plans 76% 23% 1% 59% 36% 3% 95% 5% 0% 75% 25% 0% 77% 22% 1%
Evaluative Essay 62% 33% 5% 66% 28% 5% 92% 8% 0% 50% 50% 0% 66% 30% 4%
Reflective Essay 75% 20% 5% 57% 33% 7% 93% 7% 0% 50% 50% 0% 75% 20% 5%

In the secondary program the faculty members employ statistical measures of effect size to determine candidate effect on pupil learning in the advanced work sample. The effect size is the standard amount scores change from the pre to post test. It illustrates if the students performed better on the post-test (a positive effect) and to what degree (how much better). According to Cohen, 0.2 is indicative of a small effect, 0.5 a medium, and 0.8 a large effect size. Secondary work samples grouped by content area document candidates’ teaching had a large effect (above 0.8) on student content learning. Figure below summarizes the substantial effect sizes from the Secondary PTEP Advanced Work Samples across the content areas for the 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 academic years.

Impact on Student Achievement: Work Sample Effect Size


See more results in Secondary and Elementary Work Sample Reports, and Secondary and Elementary Student Teaching Evaluation Reports.

Advanced Programs use a wide variety of field experience assessments. The examples can be found in SPA and Non-SPA reports.