Faculty of Education always keen on strengthening the program

The University of Lethbridge Faculty of Education is embarking upon a unique partnership with students and alumni to better understand and further strengthen the Faculty's academic program.

"This teacher education program has always been successful," says Dr. Thelma Gunn, assistant dean, Student Program Services. Why it has been successful, however, has never been formally researched.

"We want to know specifically what components of the educational program had the most impact on pre-service teachers—and then how those components were eventually perceived out in the field."

Thelma Gunn
Dr. Thelma Gunn and her colleagues recognize the Faculty's academic program cannot rest on its laurels.

Data collection will initially be survey-based, with interviews and possibly focus groups developing as the study progresses.

"We'd like to start with individuals who would agree, even in ED 2500, to be tracked as they go into PSI, II, III, and then out into the profession."

A major facet of the initiative will be feedback from graduates.

"We value what they know and understand about being a teacher. Now we want to find out more information about how our on-campus components contributed to their development as a teacher," says Gunn.

"Alumni can provide at least two important ideas for us," adds Dr. Craig Loewen. "One is reflection on what parts of their program had the greatest impact on their teaching career. The other is current experience in the field and advice on what new we might need to add."

Although the program has changed over time, the study isn't limited to recent graduates.

"It's mostly the academic portion that's changed, not necessarily the feeling," says Gunn. "We don't know specifically what people have valued. It might be the personal experiences they had here—the small groups, the collegiality, the professors who were committed to developing teachers."

Veteran teachers often see trends that newer teachers can't, she notes, and may have "something intriguing to state in terms of how the program could move forward."

"We're interested in anyone who was a graduate of the faculty," says Gunn, "even if they use their BEd in another capacity. Then there are people who've left the profession altogether. Why they left is equally interesting to us."

"We're just really interested in what students and alumni have to say about the overall program. If there was something good we want to keep it, and if there was something they think could have been done differently, we want to know. We're looking for genuine, authentic perceptions of the program."

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