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Pedagogical Content Knowledge & Skills For Teacher Candidates

Within the UMM TEP, candidates learn to understand subject matter in relation to the needs of their students. They learn how best to organize, implement, and assess instruction for particular concepts in particular subject areas. Building on the core knowledge provided in the general education program, majors, and specialty areas, candidates begin to focus on student learning and the multiple ways that content should be represented so that learning takes place. Minnesota licensure requirements include specific and detailed knowledge for each licensure area. This knowledge is aligned to professional standards.

Methods courses provide the greater part of pedagogical content knowledge instruction. A review of the syllabi reveals alignment to state and national standards along with assignments that require candidates to apply the standards. Secondary candidates complete a methods course in their area of licensure. Elementary candidates complete methods courses for K-6 subjects and an additional methods course in their specialty area. Methods courses include a review of the relevant standards and curriculum, creation of instructional activities, assessments, and analytical/reflective assignments. They are required to integrate appropriate technology and multicultural concepts into their lessons.

In concurrent field experiences, candidates analyze the community context, gather student information, and adapt instruction in order to grow in their own skill and understanding and in order to effectively promote student learning. When working with students, candidates are required to make adjustments to their planning and instruction so that they respond to the needs of the student. It is in P-12 classrooms that candidates fully understand and learn to practice the flexibility needed to present content information to learners.

Pedagogical content knowledge is assessed throughout the program and in multiple ways. Candidates typically complete reflective activities that are reviewed by faculty members. Faculty members evaluate unit and lesson plans and observe lesson demonstrations and classroom teaching. Cooperating teachers complete lesson observations and evaluations.

Key program assessments of pedagogical content knowledge include the candidate portfolios and the summative evaluations of student teaching completed by cooperating teachers and university supervisors. Assessments of planning, instruction, and assessment are the key components included. On all items, 88% or more candidates within the unit receive ratings of proficient or above on these essential elements.

Technology Integration

In the UMM teacher education program, we seek to include essential technology understandings along with meaningful integration of technology instruction throughout the course of study. Funded by both unit and institution initiatives, increased access to computers and other technology has allowed candidates to do more work with technology and to learn to use increasingly sophisticated equipment and programs. In course work and practicum experiences, candidates employ Internet activities, document cameras, video recorders, scanners, multimedia programming, SmartBoards, and other equipment and programs. Assignments, including analysis and appropriate use of programs and technology available for P-12 student learning, are integrated into courses and into all field experiences where candidates are expected to integrate technology into their lesson planning and implementation. Course syllabi show the range of technology preparation and assignments. In the program, all assignments must be completed at a proficient level to receive a passing grade.

Candidates meet UMM TEP technology competencies. The competencies—drawn from ISTE standards—include basic operations and concepts, personal and professional use of technology, and integration of technology into instruction. During student teaching, candidates complete the Assessment of Integrated Technology Lesson. In recognition of differences in what schools can provide, the assignment requires candidates to make use of the most advanced instructional technology available at the site. Since the assignment was first implemented in Spring 2004, candidates have had to demonstrate mastery of instructional technology in order to receive a satisfactory grade for student teaching.

Key program assessments of technology include the candidate portfolios and the summative evaluations of student teaching completed by cooperating teachers and university supervisors. These data, shown in the Program Assessments of Pedagogical Content and Skills, reveal that at least 90% of candidates are proficient or above in the communication standard, the element of the standards of effective practice that currently includes instructional technology standards. Another key assessment is the integrated technology assignment that all candidates must complete as part of student teaching requirements. The unit conducted an analysis of sample integrated technology evaluations (N=21) to confirm candidate proficiency on the assignment. 95% of the candidates in the sample were rated proficient or above with an average assessment score of 92%.

In 2009, the UMM TEP will revise our technology standards so that they reflect changes in national standards and performance indicators recommended by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). The Minnesota Board of Teaching is currently in the rule-making process to make specific changes to the Standards of Effective Practice. Significant changes to technology expectations for initial licensure are included in the proposed rule. The unit will work to address the new expectations in our revised unit standards, course assignments, the integrated technology assignment, and our key assessments.

Follow-Up Surveys

Follow-up surveys of graduates and employers are administered in the first year of the graduate’s teaching experience. The three-year average response rate is 58% for graduates and 63% for employers. The exact response rates for group and year are included on the matrix.

As shown in the Follow-Up Surveys of Pedagogical Content Knowledge and Skills, both graduates and their employers generally give high ratings on survey items related to candidate preparation in this area. We are especially pleased with high ratings in areas of instructional planning, focus on student learning, and use of instructional technology. Though our graduates do well in the areas of assessment (including Minnesota academic standards), management, and student diversity, these topics continue to be major goals for improvement in our unit.