Education Discipline Assessment 2006-2007


Scope of assessment activities

         ___√__Course-embedded assessment

                     ___√___ Pre- and post-testing

         ___√__ Outside the classroom

         ___√__ Across the discipline

Direct measures of student learning

         ___√__ Capstone experience

         ___√__ Portfolio assessment

         ___√__ Standardized tests

         ___√__ Performance on national licensure, certification or

                     preprofessional exams

         ______ Qualitative internal and external juried review of

                     of comprehensive senior projects

         ______ Externally reviewed exhibitions and performances in

                     the arts

         ______ External evaluation of performance during internships


Discussion and Description

Discipline goals, direct measures, and improved student learning


         1. Discipline overview

         The curriculum is divided into three subcurricula, Education, Elementary Education, Secondary Education, and Education. Elementary Education is offered as a major, but Secondary Education is a licensure program in which the student majors in a discipline from one of the other[1] Divisions: Humanities; Science and Mathematics; or Social Sciences.


         2. Discipline goals

         2a. Elementary and Secondary Education

         The goals for Elementary and Secondary Education are designed to help students (future teachers) to

Š      acquire the knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary to being a competent teacher

Š      understand central concepts, tools of inquiry, and structures of disciplines taught in schools

Š      understand children and adolescents and their individual and group behavior

Š      plan and implement instruction adapted to learners of diverse backgrounds and abilities

Š      communicate effectively

Š      encourage critical thinking and problem solving

Š      use formal and informal methods of assessment

Š      collaborate with parents/guardians, families, school colleagues, and the community in an ethical manner.

These goals are based on the ten Standards of Effective Practice of the state of Minnesota.

         2b. Education

         The courses are designed to offer students the opportunity to study education and its role in society.


         3. A three-fold assessment strategy in Elementary and Secondary Education

         The discipline uses both internal and external measures of the degree to which students achieve the goals listed above. Three principal assessment tools are

Š      PRAXIS II exams

Š      summative evaluation scores for the final student teaching experience

Š      key assignments in the capstone course: portfolio assessment


         4. PRAXIS II exams

         There are two parts to these standardized, external exams, the PLT (Pedagogy, Learning and Teaching—or the pedagogy part for short) and the content part. The state requires that students pass both parts for licensure. In 2007 UMM had a 100 % pass rate for both parts (29 students in Elementary Education and 25 in Secondary).[2] During the 2002-2007 period, UMM students took content exams in eighteen areas, with pass rates exceeding state pass rates in fifteen of them, although in some instances the differences in rates are small and some small sample sizes vitiate the comparison.[3]

         Performance on PRAXIS II may also signal areas where student learning is problematic. One example is discussed in the discipline’s report, which details the problem, describes the faculty’s response, and documents the improvement in student learning. Another issue being addressed by the Elementary Education faculty is the presence of two students in the cohort of 2009 for whom English is a second language, the issue being whether PRAXIS II will fairly assess their learning.


         5. Summative evaluation of student teaching[4]

         Elementary and secondary education students complete eleven weeks of student teaching as their final field experience. During that field experience, they apply the knowledge and skills studied in the programs. In this experience, all ten Standards of Effective Practice are implemented and assessed.  Cooperating teachers and university supervisors complete at least three formative evaluations that highlight strengths in performance and assist the student in identifying weaknesses. Goals are established, additional coaching is provided, and students are given the opportunity to address areas of concern. The summative evaluation assesses all of the program goals and is completed by cooperating teachers and university supervisors. Data from final field experience evaluations for the 2006-2007 cohort reveal that all but one student met minimum proficiency for licensure (please see Table One). No other student received less than an “average” rating on any part of their field experience evaluation. In fact, most earned high marks from cooperating teachers or university supervisors.


         6. Key assignments from the capstone course: portfolio assessment

         The goals of the capstone course are to

Š      facilitate professional reflection

Š      enable students to explore professional issues related to teaching

Š      assist students in evaluating the effects of their professional choices and actions on students, parents, other professionals, and the larger learning community.

         The primary assessment of student learning in the capstone course is the professional portfolio created by students. Students begin creating this portfolio when they enter the program and continually revise it throughout. The portfolio has ten sections, one section for each of Minnesota’s Standards of Effective Practice—standards in which students must demonstrate competency before being licensed as teachers. For each standard, students write an essay that describes their growth and development in the standard, provides evidence of that growth and sets new goals for deeper understanding. This process again exemplifies the formative assessment built into the teacher education program. Students have multiple opportunities to write, reflect on feedback, and reconstruct their portfolio throughout the program. In this course, the students write their final statements. Each faculty member is responsible for evaluating 10-12 professional portfolios. Prior to the evaluation period, faculty members engage in a reliability session to ensure fair and reliable grading practices across faculty members. In this session, faculty read and grade sample essays and discuss the reasons for their grades and discuss any discrepancies. The process continues with multiple readings and discussions until the faculty are grading in a manner consistent with one another.

         7. Course-embedded assessment

         All courses in the elementary and secondary education programs are crafted around the ten Standards of Effective Practice. Lectures, readings, and assignments are linked to specific standards and the links are usually recorded on the syllabus. The courses also are based on mastery learning. This means that students must perform all tasks at a proficient level. If a student does not successfully master a task, he or she continues to work on this task and repeat an assignment until it is mastered.

         An example of assessment in one course is in Appendix 1 of the Education discipline’s report. Assessment is built around a teaching and learning strategies mini-unit assignment. The final goal is to have the student plan and teach the mini-unit to his or her practicum students, and then to assess their learning. The student’s mastery in turn is evaluated by the instructor by means of a scoring rubric that the student has seen in advance. The route to attaining this goal is laid out in an eight-step plan.


         8. Students who fail to meet the requirements

         The Education discipline’s report notes that its “data clearly show that most of the students far surpass the minimum requirements set by our own program and those of the state and national accreditation agencies.” The discipline’s faculty continues to seek ways to assist the rare student who does not self-select out of the program but is struggling to meet its requirements.


General education categories spanned by the discipline


            Many Education courses but by no means all carry one of the general education designators: IP, international perspective; Hum, communication, language, literature, and philosophy; E/CR, ethical and civic responsibility; or FL, foreign languages. Only two courses in Elementary Education and only two in Secondary carry designators, one IP, and one HDiv, human diversity, in each of the subcurricula.



[1] Education is the fourth academic division at UMM.

[2] See Table One of the Education discipline’s report in the appendices. This table also summarizes results for all three assessment tools for the class of 2007.

[3] Table II in the discipline report.

[4] The paragraphs in § 5-7 have been pasted almost entirely from the Education discipline report in the appendices.