Field and clinical experiences are integral to the UMM TEP as we meet the program, state, and national goals. Reflecting our conceptual framework, the experiences blend theory and practice, require careful reflection, and are developmental in their approach to candidate learning. Candidates build expertise in initial and advance field placements which, in conjunction with rigorous education courses, prepare them for their clinical experience.
Program transition points (ElEd and SeEd) include the criteria for candidate progress within the program. To be eligible for student teaching, candidates must have successfully completed required courses (including proficiency in every course assignment), maintained the required GPA, and successfully met the knowledge, skill, and professional disposition requirements in field experiences. Prior to beginning their 11-week clinical experience, elementary and secondary candidates attend meetings to review student teaching expectations. Early in the experience, triad meetings allow cooperating teachers, candidates, and university supervisors to review expectations. Throughout the experience, candidates receive formal and informal feedback on their performance in planning, instruction, professionalism, use of instructional technology, and analysis of student learning. Midterm evaluations are discussed with candidates. Cooperating teachers and university supervisors complete summative evaluations at the end of the experience.
Careful attention and continuous feedback to candidates as they progress through the program have resulted in high success rates in clinical experiences (as shown in the data tables for program assessments). Most candidates far surpass minimum eligibility requirements for student teaching and demonstrate high levels of proficiency upon completion. Candidates who are not meeting standards during student teaching are given specific goals for improvement through the communication of concern process. A candidate who does not meet the goals according to the specified criteria on their improvement plan will not be allowed to finish student teaching or will receive an unsatisfactory grade. We have developed a policy that guides the process of candidate readmission to a clinical experience.
Assessing Candidate Performance
The responsibility for assessment of candidate performance during clinical experience is shared by the members of the triad: the candidate, the university supervisor, and the cooperating teacher. This process is designed so that the team works collaboratively and openly to assist the candidate in effectively applying the principles of effective practice, analyzing personal and professional growth, and ensuring that all students are learning.
The candidate is responsible for meeting all requirements of student teaching. These requirements include multiple opportunities for reflection and self-assessment. The candidates write and share weekly reflections. They analyze a video tape of one of their lessons, and they reflect upon student achievement and their own performance after each lesson they teach. They complete the analysis of student learning. They plan and teach at least eight lessons that are formally observed by either the cooperating teacher or the university supervisor. In each of these assignments, their work is reviewed by their cooperating teacher and/or university supervisor. The candidates also must reflect and respond to the reviewers’ comments and suggestions.As mentors and models, the cooperating teachers provide ongoing, formative support and feedback to the candidates. This feedback is both informal (e.g. brief comments and suggestions) and formal (e.g. lesson observation forms and other assessment documents). The university supervisors, who see the candidates a minimum of four times during the semester, also give formative feedback. This typically involves a formal assessment.
The university supervisor and cooperating teacher complete multiple evaluations of the student teacher's performance. Included are formative evaluations of lessons (including the integrated technology lesson), an assessment of professional dispositions, and general review of planning, classroom environment, collaboration, and ethics. Many cooperating teachers and supervisors work together to complete midterm evaluations, and they often include the candidate as part of this process. These forms provide the candidates with positive feedback and goals for the end of the semester. The formative evaluations and other key pieces of evidence are placed in the student's file in the Division office. At the conclusion of the student teaching experience, the university supervisor and cooperating teacher complete summative evaluation forms. The summative evaluations are based on the Minnesota Standards of Effective Practice and are retained in the candidates’ files.
Reflection and Feedback
Reflection is a major component of the UMM TEP. Candidates are expected to reflect deeply on their growth toward becoming a teacher and on the goals reflected in the program’s conceptual framework and the standards of effective practice.
Candidates are required to maintain a reflective journal during each experience in the classroom. The specific journal assignment varies depending on the practicum, but all are designed to encourage the candidate to ask and answer questions, describe and analyze instructional decisions, and organize and examine their thoughts and ideas. The journals are submitted to University supervisors, usually electronically, daily or weekly depending upon length of classroom experience. The University supervisor then responds to these journals and either encourages candidates to continue deep reflection or challenges candidates to reconsider thinking or to approach instruction or classroom situations differently. By allowing candidates to reflect and providing feedback weekly or more often, the UMM TEP ensures that candidates are developing as reflective practitioners.Candidates are also given opportunities to share their reflections with peers. During early and advanced field experiences, candidates meet regularly with classmates on campus as part of the course. There, candidates relate their experiences and ideas as well as listen and respond to the ideas of others. They discuss readings and lectures and relate them to their classroom experience. In the capstone clinical experience, candidates may attend student teaching seminars with peers in their area, depending upon location of the placement. We are now helping candidates connect to their peers for meaningful online discussions through the use of Moodle and other technologies.
Candidate Effect on Student Learning
Student learning for all students in all places is at the center of the UMM TEP conceptual framework. To prepare candidates for effective instruction, the unit’s courses and field experiences focus on the knowledge, skills, and dispositions needed to help them reach all students. This focus on student learning forms the basis of many assignments throughout the program and all courses include assignments that lead to increased skill. Similarly, all field experiences include assignments or activities that focus on the candidate’s growth in understanding and effect on student learning. All candidates must complete at least one field experience in a diverse or cross-cultural placement. These program activities and assignments are designed to prepare candidates for a successful clinical experience. Three key assessments in student teaching measure candidates’ ability to assess and analyze student learning. These are the Analysis of Student Learning, Summative Evaluation of Student Teaching, and the Candidate Portfolio.
The Analysis of Student Learning Data reveal that UMM TEP candidates can successfully impact student learning and know how to use assessment data to do so. Based on the 2007 data, teacher education faculty restructured the assignment to increase instruction, adjust the assignment schedule, clarify expectations, and strengthen the scoring rubric. Average unit scores on the assignment increased from 73% to 82%. In a 2008 Student Survey, candidates reported that the assignment helped them learn that assessment and assessment results were important. A majority of them reported that the analysis of data was the most meaningful part of the assignment.
Program Assessments of Student Learning include relevant items from the Summative Evaluations of Student Teaching, completed both by university supervisors and cooperating teachers. The relevant items are student learning, diverse learners, and assessment. The summative evaluations, based on performance during student teaching, show high ratings for UMM candidates in these three areas, with the most recent data showing that 98 to 100% of the candidates earned ratings of proficient or above.
Candidates also assess their own understandings of student learning and assessment. In both elementary and secondary programs, candidates create a reflective portfolio based on the ten standards of effective practice. As part of their portfolio after completing their clinical experience, candidates write reflective essays that describe their understanding and progress toward meeting the goals of Standards 2 Student Learning, 3 Diverse Learners, and 8 Assessment.
Candidates in the UMM TEP are expected, like classroom teachers, to focus on student learning. With student learning at the heart of our program, we strive to improve our candidates’ knowledge, skills, and dispositions toward this goal as well as our methods of assessing it. Working with our partners in support committees, the teacher education faculty strengthened and clarified candidate expectations. We have analyzed the student learning data yearly and have developed a meaningful and successful program of instruction and assessment.
Early in the UMM TEP, candidates are introduced to the cycle of assessment, planning, and teaching to ensure student learning. With this knowledge, candidates are expected to plan, deliver, assess, and analyze instruction during initial and advanced field experiences. They must analyze student learning in relationship to their planned learning objectives after each lesson they teach. They also must complete at least one detailed analysis of student learning in a series of lessons taught in an advanced practicum. This is in preparation for the clinical experience where these important competencies are specifically assessed in the Analysis of Student Learning. In this assignment, designed to be completed in the first five weeks of student teaching, the candidates follow a unit plan format to write a series of instructional lessons designed to meet specific goals and objectives. They collect and record assessment data as planned throughout the instruction. After completing the unit, candidates analyze and reflect upon the assessment data. They consider whole-group, sub-group, and individual data. They must link the assessment results to their own decisions and actions. They must also describe how they used or would use the assessment data to impact instruction. This assignment is submitted to a University supervisor in the first half of the clinical experience to allow time for improvement in this area if necessary. This assignment helps candidates to focus on this important process and gain more experience with using data to guide instruction.
All candidates in the UMM TEP are expected to complete the same requirements and meet the same standards no matter where they are placed.