Term of Award

Fall 2001

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Curriculum Studies

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Committee Chair

Jane Page

Committee Member 1

Robert Warkentin

Committee Member 2

Brenda Shuman-Riley

Committee Member 3

Jennie Rakestraw

Committee Member 4

Diane Zigo

Abstract

Twentieth-century teaching will not adequately serve students of the twenty-first century. The redesign of teacher education programs to meet the needs of twenty-first century schools is taking shape throughout colleges of education across the nation and is supported by many in teacher education. At Georgia Southern University, the Secondary Education program has undergone revision to create a collaborative, standards-based Secondary Professional Block incorporating extensive field experiences prior to student teaching. This study examines the perspectives of cooperating classroom teachers regarding the Secondary Professional Block of the Secondary Education Program. A multi-step research design incorporated a survey instrument to ascertain cooperating teachers' perceptions of the importance of the Secondary Education Program standards, and semi-structured oral interviews were conducted to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the program as well as to obtain cooperating teachers descriptions of the collaborative aspects of the program. The review of summative assessment documents provided additional data regarding the cooperating teachers' perceptions of individual student accomplishment of the Secondary Education Program standards.

The National Commission on Teaching and America's Future (1996) encouraged the creation of clearly articulated standards for teaching to be viewed as the transforming factor in the current system of teacher preparation. In this study, cooperating teachers concur that the collaboratively written, INTASC-informed Secondary Professional Block standards are important and appropriate in the preparation of teachers. They suggest the addition of content specific program standards to clarify areas of ambiguity.

Cooperating teachers rank highly the ability of Secondary Professional Block students to demonstrate program standards. Specifically, cooperating teachers praise students' abilities to design lessons which utilize varied pedagogical methods and practices. Similarly, students are rated by cooperating teachers as being consistently reflective as supported by their ability to accurately assess lesson effectiveness, support the assessment with evidence from the lesson and offer alternatives to try on other occasions.

Cooperating teachers cite support in their decision-making, a clear understanding of the role they play, and open communication as some examples of the collaborative aspects of the Secondary Professional Block. In addition, cooperating teachers describe the collegial working relationship alongside university faculty in planning workshops and in university classrooms as additional aspects of collaboration within the Secondary Professional Block. University faculty are strongly encouraged by cooperating teachers to observe and teach in public school classrooms often and are urged to conduct three-way post-observational conferences which involve the preservice teacher, the cooperating teacher, and the university supervisor.

Cooperating teachers cite a strength of the Secondary Professional Block as extended field experiences which allow: a) increased rapport between preservice teacher, students, and cooperating teacher, b) greater understanding of student needs, c) longer collaborative planning time, d) more familiarity with classroom routines, e) greater understanding of the flexibility needed in teaching, f) greater understanding of diverse learning styles, and g) overall more realistic view of classroom teaching. Additional strengths of the Secondary Professional Block as stated by cooperating teachers were professional development received by cooperating teachers who work with preservice students, and the overall collaborative nature of the program. While cooperating teachers did not cite any weaknesses in the program, they encouraged preservice teachers to spend additional time working with struggling learners and with students from diverse backgrounds.

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