Preparing Tomorrow's Teachers's To Use Technology : LUSENET : ILT Discussion : One Thread

In Monday's meeting, we discussed the viability of a GSAS & Engineering School application with ILT to this grant ( It so happens that AERA's March 99 issue of Educational Researcher has an article on "The Problem of Underqualifed Teachers in American Secondary Schools". The article focuses specifically on the problem of "out-of-field teaching", i.e., teachers who teach in subject areas for which they have no expertise(apparent by way of college degree or minor). The author (Richard Ingersoll) pays significant attention to the dicrepancies between public and private/ ill-funded and well-funded institutes and the corellation with high instances of out-of-field teachers which also seems to corellate with low performance on test scores.

It's an interesting article to look at.

Best, Jen

-- Jen Hogan (, April 14, 1999


This article from the Chronicle may be of interest in thinking about groups and interests served by an innovative pre-service program.

MLA Looks at Expanded Master's-Degree Programs as a Tonic for the Ph.D. Job Crisis


Madison, Wis.

Expanded master's-degree programs could be a solution to the job-market crisis facing Ph.D.'s in the humanities, according to many participants at a weekend conference here on the future of doctoral education.

More than 180 professors, administrators, and graduate students in English and foreign languages met at the University of Wisconsin at Madison for the meeting, which was sponsored by the Modern Language Association and the university. It was only the second time in the M.L.A.'s history that it had convened a special national meeting devoted to the topic.

By now, academe is well acquainted with the woes of the humanities profession. The job market for Ph.D.'s in English and foreign languages has been in a rut for much of the '90s, as universities have reduced the number of tenure-track positions on their campuses and instead relied more heavily on adjuncts and graduate students to teach the undergraduate curriculum.

According to the most recent statistics from the M.L.A., only 33 per cent of the students who earned Ph.D.'s in English in 1996-97 landed tenure-track positions that year, and only 38 per cent of their counterparts in foreign languages.

"Human beings in general overestimate their chances of success -- state lotteries depend on this, and graduate students are no exception," said John Guillory, a professor of English at Harvard University. "Our students persist in wanting to pursue an academic career even after hearing the worst from us."

Mr. Guillory said many of the economic difficulties facing research universities cannot be solved within the university, but he pointed to a few "pressure points" where he felt academics could make a difference. The sharp division in status between composition professors and literature faculty members could be lessened if lower-division composition courses were not just remedial in nature, but were redesigned so that they would be attractive to faculty members to teach. More controversially, he questioned why graduate education should be an unregulated market and suggested that some accrediting power could be invested in the M.L.A. or a group like it to monitor doctoral education. That suggestion, however, seemed to have few takers in the audience here.

What did intrigue many here was the potential of the master's degree. New kinds of master's programs in the humanities could prepare students for a variety of careers, such as working in non-profit agencies, schools, computer companies, or entertainment fields.

Professors and administrators at the meeting suggested that master's programs could do two things for the humanities: They could help departments maintain enrollment in graduate programs as the number of doctoral students declines. And such programs could help departments make connections to the world outside of academe and demonstrate that training in the humanities is of broad value to the society, and not simply a way to perpetuate the professoriate.

Catharine R. Stimpson, dean of the graduate school at New York University, predicted: "The master's degree will get even more popular. The master's can no longer be dismissed as a mere pathway to a Ph.D., but will become as crucial a degree as the B.A. became after World War II."

David Ward, chancellor of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, echoed that sentiment. He called the master's degree one solution to the preservation of the liberal arts, and urged departments to consider cross-disciplinary programs in which, for example, a business major might get a master's degree in a one-year foreign-language immersion program.

The key for the humanities, Mr. Ward said, "is to move beyond critique, move beyond angst and come up with some concrete ways that those of us who want to help can."

Cary Nelson, a professor of English at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has some concrete ideas but they are not always welcomed by administrators. He suggested, for example, that a cap be placed on administrative and faculty salaries and that the money saved by the cap be used to improve the wages of part-timers and teaching assistants.

Mr. Nelson said graduate students who spend seven years or more in training for a Ph.D. develop an identity that is deeply connected to academic life.

"It trivializes that identity to suggest that they should be happy to abandon something they've committed 10 years to so they can go a work in a bank," he said. "If you want to put someone in an alternative career, it should begin early on, with different courses and internships offered. An M.A. program is a much better way to do it."

J. Lawrence Mitchell, a professor of English at Texas A&M University said Mr. Nelson's "idealistic" approach was "nice," but added: "I'm a pragmatist. What can we do here and now for people who can't make it into academe?"

Robert Weisbuch, president of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, agreed. He has been leading a project at the foundation to expand career options for Ph.D.'s within and beyond academe. (See a story from The Chronicle on April 16.) The idea that a student spends 10 years pursuing a Ph.D. in English only to end up working in the business world, "that's not what we're hoping to have happen," Mr. Weisbuch said. "That's what the current situation is. The nation is predicting a shortage of 2 million schoolteachers in the coming years, and we've got underemployment of Ph.D.'s. We've got to put some of these things together."

While many professors were not in favor of removing anything currently involved in Ph.D. training they were willing to consider ways to supplement doctoral training that might better prepare Ph.D.'s for the likelihood that they won't find a tenure-track job.

One venture that received a lot of attention at the conference is taking shape at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Deborah Carlin, director of the graduate program in English there, is creating an internship program for Ph.D.'s, in such settings as local historical societies, film companies, and theater groups. Hands-on experience in a setting outside academe will give Ph.D.'s something to put on their risumis in the event that an academic career doesn't pan out, she said.

The internships are intended to be meaningful positions for Ph.D.'s. "We intend that they not be Xeroxing monkeys," she said. "The point," Ms. Carlin added, "is the acquisition of experience."

Some graduate students who have been pushing for the M.L.A. and academic departments to do more about the job crisis said they were encouraged by what they heard at the conference, even if the early sessions spent too much time "regurgitating the history that all of us know," as Mark Kelley, president of the association's Graduate Student Caucus, put it.

He and others said that while the M.L.A. had taken steps to include graduate students in the meeting -- paying the expenses of 15 Ph.D. students from around the country -- nonetheless, only one graduate student was included as a speaker in the plenary sessions. Still Mr. Kelley said, "People are more and more aware of the issues and willing to engage than they were even two years ago."

Background stories from The Chronicle:

"Finding New Paths for Ph.D.'s in the Humanities," 4/16/99 "Opinion: Six Proposals to Revive the Humanities," 3/26/99 "Graduate Students Win Concessions at Contentious MLA Meeting," 1/8/99 "Embittered by a Bleak Job Market, Graduate Students Take On the MLA," 12/18/98 "MLA Reports 28% Increase in Job Openings for Ph.D.'s in English," 12/9/98 "Fewer English Ph.D.'s Land on Tenure Track, MLA Survey Finds," 4/17/98 "Job Market in Languages Holds Steady for Ph.D.'s, MLA Says," 2/20/98 "Citing 'Crisis' in Job Market, MLA Urges Changes in Graduate Education," 1/9/98

-- Jen Hogan (, April 19, 1999.

This may be of interest.

Education Students Fare Better Than Others on Teacher-Licensing Test, Study Finds


Teacher-education students have higher scores on the Praxis II test for teacher licensure than do people who have never enrolled in a teacher-training program, according to a study released Wednesday by the Educational Testing Service and ACT Inc.

The E.T.S. and ACT researchers examined data on more than 272,000 people who took the Praxis II exam in 1995, 1996, and 1997 and who also had taken the SAT or ACT during the preceding 20 years. The Praxis II is used in most states as part of the licensing requirements for teachers. The study found that although the current teacher-education students had slightly lower SAT scores than teacher candidates who had never enrolled in a teacher-training program, 91 per cent of the education students had passed the licensure exam, compared with 74 per cent of those who had never enrolled in teacher-education classes.

Among people who had taken the ACT, 93 per cent of the teacher-education students passed the licensure test, compared with 78 per cent of those who had never enrolled in teacher training, while both groups had similar ACT scores.

"These results make it clear that teacher-education programs have an important impact in preparing their students to meet the requirements of licensure," the researchers wrote. "Academic ability, as measured by SAT/ACT scores does not, in itself, ensure that someone will have the knowledge and skills that are assessed by teacher-licensure tests. Teacher-education programs appear to be providing some critical knowledge that enables education students to pass licensure tests at higher rates than students who never enrolled in a teacher-education program."

Passing rates on the licensure exam also were higher for students who attended institutions accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education than for those in unaccredited programs, the report said. That trend held true for people who had taken either the SAT or the ACT, even though teacher candidates at NCATE-accredited institutions had slightly lower SAT and ACT scores than those in unaccredited programs.

The results come as an increasing number of states, in the face of teacher shortages, have allowed the hiring of teachers with "emergency" credentials and have developed alternative routes to teacher certification for people who have never enrolled in teacher-education programs. Forty-one states have laws allowing alternative certification, and Pennsylvania last month became the second state to offer a state-run program to allow college graduates who have not completed education courses to receive state teaching certificates. New Jersey, since 1985, has had a similar program that has trained as many as 40 per cent of all the state's teachers in some years.

At the same time, education schools have been criticized for not producing enough qualified teachers and for focusing more on pedagogy than on a thorough training in an academic subject. A group of policy makers and educators last month, in a manifesto drafted by the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, called for states to test prospective teachers on their knowledge and skills in academic subjects, rather than requiring them to complete education-school curricula or degrees.

But the E.T.S. and ACT researchers caution that while states that raise standards for passing teacher-licensure tests will end up with teachers of greater academic ability, the number and diversity of those teachers will diminish. The researchers presented many of the findings of the newly released study at a conference this spring, including how the SAT scores of education majors compared with those of all college-bound seniors. (See a story from The Chronicle, March 12.)

For the report released Wednesday, the researchers included data on people who had taken the ACT. The findings parallel those that the researchers had already presented on people who took the SAT.

The new report is available on line at (It is a large file that must be viewed with an Adobe Acrobat reader.)

-- jenhogan (, May 13, 1999.

I have a few thoughts on this grant which will lead I suppose to some questions and issues to be addressed. First, I think this RFP creates the right intersection between education and technology and therefore is a grant that we ought to seek vigorously Second, we need to think collectively about some of the issues raised by the RFP. Why for example, have teacher preparation programs been a "critical factor in limiting the contributions of new technologies to improved learning"? It may be that in limiting ourselves to pedagogical matters we may be missing the point. Many teachers come out of schools with good technology preparation but find an inhospitable environment for pursuing technology-rich lessons. I wonder then, if we are overestimating the power of technology to change pedagogy and underestimating the power of the school as an institution to resist those changes. Third, I hope that we can figure out a way to connect teacher preparation and certification to the creation of technolgy related teaching portfolios. Further, I hope that we can connect our emerging techo-savvy teachers with mentors in the real world. And, I hope that we can include schools in the Eiffel and NHEEEP community as part of that real world. Such a collaboration would allow for an authentic environment for our pre-service teachers to work, while offering a somehat subversive way for technology-aware teachers to begin to make a difference with their colleagues. And finally, I am coming increasingly to see technology integration as connected to other issues of school change. New teachers need to be prepared to be advocates of good practice and armed with strategies to assist in their resistance to the "swallowing-up" potential schools. I fear that the institution and its staff will not be overly welcoming to the newly certified teacher- no matter how well prepared techologically. How can we assist them to be stronger advocates for 21st century methodologies? I hope we can frame a proposal that can make a real difference.


-- Dick Parsons (, April 14, 1999.

Thinking about pre-service and Master's Degree programs for rwsolving the PhD "job crisis" seems sensible but only a partial solution- one that appears pretty one-sided. How about if we think more about how the process might benefit schools. I'm wondering whether we could create a system that would allow preservice teachers to work in the schools as in-service teachers as well. The new teachers would benefit by having authentic opportunities to develop their skills while providing the schools with additional staff members that would allow their regular full time staff to be occasionally excused for professional development occasions. ILT could mediate this system by acting as liason between the schools and the pre service teachers; offering staff development in both cases while monitoring the progress of technology infusion and effective instructional strategies. The schools would have a more prepared staff and the PhD candidates would have real; practical experience to go along with their Master's and teaching certificate. Just an idea.


-- Dick Parsons (, April 22, 1999.

What follows is an outline of sorts relating to how ILT might participate in response to the RFP: Preparing Tomorrow's Teachers to Use Technology. As a concept paper it is desperately in need of further shaping by smart people- that's why I offer it to you all...

This five-phase concept outline is intended to be a provocative beginning to a brainstorming conversation that will lead to a more fully articulated response to the grant's challenge.

 Phase One: ILT works with graduate students in the school of Engineering and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Working in concert with the faculty of TC, the Institute for Learning Technologies will facilitate the certification of graduate students enrolled in Ph.D. tracks and who have an expressed interest in teaching in public and/or private schools. ILT's role will be to work intensively with graduate students, practicing teachers and TC faculty in areas of pedagogy and technology integration. By bringing together graduate students and selected teachers currently practicing in the Eiffel Schools, TC and ILT will provide learning opportunities intended to assist in the acquisition of appropriate technical and pedagogical skills while satisfying the demands of state and local teacher certification boards.  Phase Two: ILT works with TC Faculty and the New Media Center for Teaching and Learning TC faculty and Columbia College graduate teaching assistants will explore ways that portions of their syllabus might be enriched with technology-rich lesson strategies that model approaches useful in K- 12 settings. ILT will work with the New Media Center to assist in the development of appropriate skills and provide collaboration and support in the creation of technology-supported lesson designs. These lessons should provide model approaches suitable for student teachers to adapt in the development of their own technology portfolios.

 Phase Three: ILT works with TC faculty and TC students in the development of "teaching with technology" portfolios Staff from ILT will provide support in the development of individual student portfolios that exhibit technology-rich lesson strategies and what teachers need to know and be able to do in the realm of technology. The technology labs (collaboratories) currently available at TC and Playing to Win will be equipped with the necessary technologies and will be staffed by experienced ILT curriculum specialists. ILT staff and technology will be available to TC faculty and student teachers to assist in the design, creation, and implementation of model lessons. The portfolio will consist of technology-rich lesson designs accompanied by evidence of reflection on the degree to which the lessons successfully supported the desired learning goals.

 Phase Four: ILT will work with TC students and Eiffel Project teachers Through thoughtful collaboration with teachers and administrators in carefully selected project schools, ILT will support and facilitate the implementation of TC student-designed lesson strategies in authentic settings. In both pre and post lesson conferences, TC students will be provided with the benefit of feedback from practicing teachers and mentors from ILT in carefully arranged settings intended to extend and deepen professional understandings of the role to be played by technology in enriching best practices. A thoughtful and carefully monitored deployment of these young teachers will provide an opportunity for project schools to realize the benefits of a slight but potentially useful increase in the number of staff. Teachers participating as mentors may be offered release time while classes are covered by pre-service teachers to provide instructional improvement through professional development opportunities.

 Phase Five: ILT will continue to monitor and support newly certified teachers in the field ILT will continue for one school year to monitor and support newly certified teachers after they find placement in a school. Distance learning technologies will provide a virtual learning environment where graduates of the program will continue to receive support and offer feedback and encouragement to colleagues confronting the day to day conditions which limit the effective integration of technology into public school settings.

-- Dick Parsons (, April 27, 1999.

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