A Follow-up Study of Three Cohorts of IUB Teacher Education Graduates Prepared in partial implementation of the Unit Assessment System (UAS)
Charge and Purpose • IU has not studied the impressions of its teacher education alumni regarding their preparation to teach. • Other institutions regularly conduct such studies and report that the data are highly valuable as a guide for self-improvement. • The purpose of this study was to collect this type of data for the School’s teacher education programs.
Method • Telephone survey of 301 IUB-SOE alumni. • Mixed-method approach: • Quantitative analysis of survey responses. • Qualitative analysis of open-ended survey items and 40 call-back interviews.
Method: Instrument • 41-item survey includes: • Scale of 28 items measuring perceptions of preparation to teach, based on the Teaching Abilities Self-Assessment Instrument (TASI) developed and used in the IUB SOE. • Nine items related to current teaching status and IUB program completed. • Three open-ended questions regarding challenges of teaching, preparation received at IUB, and program strengths and weaknesses.
Method: Sample • Attempted to contact all 1998, 2000, 2002 graduates of an IUB teacher education program for whom telephone numbers were available from IU databases. • A high percentage of #s were not valid. • 301 telephone surveys completed • Response rate was over 60%. • This represents 19.7% of all IUB teacher education graduates across those years. • 40 of these graduates also participated in call-back interviews. • Although sampling bias is always possible, the consistency of responses leads us to believe that it is not a major factor in this study.
Results: Current Status of Graduates • 70% of the sample currently live in Indiana, others are in 27 states. • 72% currently teach either full- or part-time. • The largest proportion (37%) work in urban schools (using NCES locale codes). • Schools are coded individually. • Should be interpreted with caution, given that many Bloomington schools are coded as urban.
Results: Perceived Level of Preparednessto Teach in Content AreasCurrently Expected to Teach
Results: Areas that Graduates Felt Least Prepared for (Relative to Student Teachers) • Working effectively with parents. • Responding effectively to social and emotional problems of students. • Using effective methods to control student misbehavior. • Creating a safe, orderly classroom environment. For each of these, student teachers considered themselves well-prepared as undergraduates, but much less so now as experienced teachers.
Qualitative Results: CommonTeaching Challenges • Open-ended question, “What was the greatest challenge you face(d) in your teaching?” • Six major themes emerged in analysis of responses.
Qualitative Results: Perceived Program Strengths and Weaknesses • Open-ended question, “Do you have any additional comments on strengths or weaknesses of your experiences in the IUB teaching preparation program?” • Six “strengths” themes and eight “weaknesses” emerged in analysis of responses.
Qualitative Results: Graduate Recommendations for Pre-Service Training • Applied and lengthier field experiences. • More experienced instructors and interaction with practicing teachers. • Courses with strong emphasis on practical issues and application of knowledge.
Qualitative Results: Preparedness Compared with Other Teachers Data collected from call-back interviews to 40 telephone survey respondents. “How prepared do you think you were in relation to other beginning teachers you see?”
Conclusions • Most IUB SOE graduates contacted are currently teaching, and intend to continue teaching. • Most of the call-back participants perceived that their IUB program prepared them as well as, or better than, other beginning teachers. • Instructional content and field experiences were praised as among the most valued aspects of their program.
Conclusions • More graduates are teaching in urban schools than in suburban, town, or rural areas, which has been a difficult transition for some students. Scale scores regarding being prepared to respond to needs of students of different backgrounds were lower among urban teachers. • Reading and writing are areas graduates most often report being expected to teach. Satisfaction in those areas is highest among the most recent (2002) cohort. Some students felt more phonics instruction was needed.
Conclusions • Recent graduates report being better prepared to deal with issues related to standards than graduates from earlier years. • Undergraduate student teachers may overestimate their level of ability or preparedness in some areas, especially a) working with parents, b) responding to social and emotional needs of students, c) maintaining a safe classroom, and d) dealing with student behavior.
Conclusions • Addressing diversity and individual student needs are among the greatest challenges these teachers face. • The graduates stressed the need for a focus on practical applications in their courses and learning from instructors who draw from personal experience.
Implications: From the Voice of Graduates • Continue to provide valuable hands-on classroom experience, and to work to find ways to provide experiences in varied locales and settings. • Work to find ways to address parent issues throughout the programs. • Concentrate on preparing students to deal with individual needs of students, in terms of cultural diversity, socio-economics, disabilities.
Implications: From the Voice of Graduates 4) Increase attention on classroom management and student behavior issues. 5) Continue with training that addresses state standards, an area that graduates consider a primary teaching challenge. 6) Seek ways to support students in their transition to professional teaching, including certification tests, job searches, and how to work with school administrators.
Implications: From the Voice of Graduates 7) Consider that 30% of teacher education graduates live and teach outside of Indiana. 8) Enhance efforts to connect theory and practice, with a focus on authentic cases and application of ideas.