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Department of Teacher Education

Teacher Education

Developing a survey to assess outcomes of teacher preparation

Proposed Investigators:

Primary investigators: Alicia Alonzo, Dorothea Anagnostopoulos, Tom Bird, Samantha Caughlan & Gary Sykes,  TE Faculty; Edward Roeber, Adjunct Professor, CEPSE

Graduate student assistants: Giovanna Moreano, David Davenport & Hong Qian, TE doctoral students; Ifeoma Iyioke, MQM doctoral student.

The purpose and focus of the research, and its intended audience

The overall purpose of this study is to explore the construction of an online survey of graduates of MSU’s teacher education program that assesses the nature and effects of the program on graduates’ teaching skills, knowledge and dispositions. The study asks: 1) What outcomes of teacher preparation are valued by key constituents (including those involved in the teacher preparation program (e.g., teacher education faculty and students) and those external to the teacher preparation program (e.g., state education officials, state legislative staff, school principals, etc)? 2) How do these valued outcomes get translated into survey items? 3) To what extent do key constituents believe that the outcomes they value are adequately represented in draft versions of the survey?

In order to answer these questions, we will audio-record individual and focus-group interviews with a) those involved with the teacher preparation program at MSU, including faculty, current students and recent graduates; b) parents of students choosing to enter the teacher preparation program at MSU, c) principals and other school district personnel responsible for hiring decisions, and d) state education officials and legislative staff focused on education. Interviews will be conducted before and after initial survey design. In addition, we will audio-record our own survey development meetings. All data will be analyzed qualitatively, looking for themes related to valued outcomes and to the processes by which these outcomes gets translated into survey items, as well as for evidence which could be used to support our goal of producing a survey which is meaningful to the various constituents.

The program participants needed as subjects of the research, and the procedures for recruiting them

We plan to interview, individually or in focus groups, the following people as part of survey development.  The MSU faculty will be those who are directly involved with the MSU teacher preparation program (including those who are involved with recruitment to the program). Faculty members will be asked to recommend students, recent graduates, local school district personnel, state officials and legislative staff who will be contacted for possible participation. Parents will be identified through student participants and will then be contacted for possible participation. In addition, we will consult relevant documents and websites to identify state officials and legislative staff directly involved with issues of teacher preparation, teacher quality and/or educational reform.

One of the team members will make initial contact with the subjects.

Internal Constituents:

  • Elementary and secondary subject matter leaders
  • Course coordinators for TE150, TE250, CEP240, TE302
  • Urban Educators Cohort Program Advisory Committee Members
  • Graduate Educators’ Cohort Program – Margo Glew and Dr. Lynn Paine
  • Dr. Sonya Gunnings-Moton, Assistant Dean, Student Support Services & Recruitment
  • Dr. Cassandra Book, Associate Dean, External Relations
  • Joella Cogan & Susan Dalebout, Student Affairs, State certification
  • Dr. Sharon Schwille, Director of Teacher Preparation Program
  • Teacher Preparation Coordinators: Trudy Sykes, Kelly Hodges, Andrea Kelly, Sylvia Hollifield, Lana Brown
  • Dr. Amelia Gotwals, Chair, Induction & Continuing Education Committee
  • Special Education faculty – Dr. Troy Mariage, Dr. Gary Troia, Dr. Susan Peters
  • Elementary and Secondary Senior Students
  • Elementary and Secondary Interns

External constituents:

  • Michigan elementary and school principals & district human resource staff
  • Senior and intern mentor teachers
  • Michigan Department of Education staff
  • Legislative staff
  • Parents of students enrolled in the TE program
  • State Board of Education members

The data collection procedures

All interviews and recruitment of subjects are being undertaken for non-research purposes. The team has been charged with developing a survey of teacher preparation outcomes for the College of Education. The work outlined in this application is designed to study this process of survey construction. Subjects will be interviewed twice – once to determine their views related to outcomes of teachers education and once to get input on draft survey items. In addition, research team meetings will be audio-recorded.

The human subjects considerations, and the manner in which they will be handled.

Faculty members might be uncomfortable expressing competing views of survey items, and of the skills, knowledge and dispositions being assessed. We believe that this poses only a minimal risk as such disagreement is an expected part of the College’s collegial culture which welcomes debate for programmatic improvement and for contributing new insights for the field of teacher education.  While our faculty colleagues may feel obligated to participate in the survey development work, this can take place without consent to participate in the research part of the work. If any participant is unwilling to be audio recorded, field notes can be used to capture information required for survey development, and that participant’s contributions will not be used for research purposes

Students might be concerned that they could be penalized for expressing views that they believe disagree with the Teacher Preparation program policies and personnel.  In order to address these concerns, students will not be contacted for potential participation or interviewed by any faculty member who has, has had or could potentially have the student in a class. If any student is unwilling to be audio recorded, field notes can be used to capture information required for survey development, and that student’s contributions will not be used for research purposes.

Data collected as part of this project will be used to inform survey development and to study the survey development process. Any reports of the data will use pseudonyms so that study participants may not be identified by those other than research project personnel. To further protect anonymity, we will slightly alter the description of subjects’ official titles and roles when possible. Only the survey development team will have access to notes and audio tapes of interviews and survey development sessions.

The report(s) to be provided to the Department or its members

All faculty in the Teacher Education Department and College will be provided up-dates on the development of the on-line survey via email and at faculty meetings.  We will also provide a summary report on the study that presents an analysis of constituents’ views of the goals, organization, key experiences and key outcomes of teacher preparation to the TPC and to any faculty member who requests it. We will report findings at an aggregate level to preserve subjects’ anonymity to the greatest extent possible. When such reporting is not reasonable, we will disguise subjects’ official titles and identities as much as possible.

Proof of IRB approval – The IRB office has deemed this project as exempt.  We are attaching the email we received from the IRB approving the study.

The potential implications for the teacher preparation program

We believe the results of this study will assist faculty in the teacher preparation program in several ways.  The report of constituents’ views of the goals, organization, key experiences and key outcomes of teacher preparation will provide teacher preparation faculty with information about the perceptions of and beliefs about teacher education held by key external constituents.  Such information is difficult to obtain in a systematic manner via on-going program review and improvement efforts.  We believe having this information can inform student recruitment efforts as well as efforts to review and revise learning-to-teach opportunities the program offers students. In addition, understanding the perceptions and beliefs of external constituents can help teacher education faculty to understand and participate in the on-going policy debates about teacher education at the state and national levels. The report of internal constituents’ views can help illuminate points of consensus and disagreement about program goals, organization and outcomes among teacher preparation faculty and students and, thus, contribute to the on-going efforts to develop a shared conceptualization of teaching and program coherence.  This information can also inform on-going program assessment efforts, such as TEAC, which require teacher preparation faculty to identify and assess the program’s progress on addressing key goals and outcomes.

Evidence of discussions about the nature, operation, and potential impact of the research with faculty members related to the program of study (e.g., studies about the effectiveness of the literacy program should be discussed with the English/Language Arts subject area leader or course leader)
The team has been and will continue to be in on-going discussions with the TE faculty about the purposes and form of the survey being constructed.  Alicia talked about the project with the elementary subject matter leaders and Dorothea has talked with Mary Juzwik about this project as well. Our research team includes leaders in the secondary teacher preparation program who are aware of and support our use of the interview data for our research as well as survey construction purposes. We have also been working closely with Suzanne Wilson and Tom Bird to ensure that the survey contributes to department efforts to create a comprehensive data system that will allow for faculty and instructors to contribute and utilize data on teacher education students’ learning and pathways through the teacher preparation program.  We believe our analyses of the interview data will contribute to these efforts by providing insight into the range and overlap of the goals and purposes that internal and external constituents ascribe to the teacher preparation program.