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D.  Standard 3. Field experiences and clinical practice

Collaboration - Design, Implementation, Evaluation - Knowledge Skills, and Dispositions to Help All Students Learn - Research - Conclusion

3a. Collaboration Between Unit and School Partners

The unit has formal partnership agreements with thirty Rhode Island school districts, including two charter schools and a laboratory school. The partnerships provide a diverse base of urban, suburban, and rural clinical field experiences for teacher candidates and interns. The work of the unit is linked to and reliant upon our PK-12 schools. This includes a special relationship of close integration we enjoy with the Henry Barnard School. A case is being made that range and the character of the collaboration make the school very close to the model defined by the National Association for Professional Development Schools. Many advanced programs have developed additional partnerships with schools and community agencies; these establish a wide range of varied placements for field experiences and clinical practice. Field placements at the initial and advanced level include observations, practica, and clinical experiences with supervision provided by field and unit supervisors. These partnerships, nurtured and developed over time, result in cooperating schools, clinical instructors, and cooperating teachers who are familiar with and model the knowledge, skills, and dispositions of the unit's Conceptual Framework and the Rhode Island Professional Teaching Standards (RIPTS) for teacher candidates.

The beginning paragraph of the Partnership Agreement outlines an agreement for the “mutual interest and commitment for excellence in teacher preparation” between the unit and the school partners. The contract defines specific criteria for the selection of clinical sites, clinical instructors, cooperating teachers and the relationship for services with the two parties, the unit and the schools. The unit and partnership districts work together to place teacher candidates and interns for initial and advanced programs in a school setting with a highly qualified teacher to enable the teacher candidate to observe, assist, tutor, teach, participate in service learning projects, and often work with applied research projects. All pre-student teaching placements are facilitated through RICplacements.org. An indicator of support for our clinical instructors can be noted with the stipends we provide. Data for Spring 2009 Cooperating Teachers showed $84,350.33 of payments and $26,880.00 for practicum/clinical instructor in the schools. Fall 2010 Cooperating Teachers payments totalled $50, 025.00 and $23,625.00 for practicum instructors. Cooperating teachers earn $500.00 for mentoring a teacher candidate for a student teaching experience for a full semester of fourteen to fifteen weeks and $250.00 for a half placement of seven weeks when teacher candidates in K-12 programs complete an elementary and a secondary placement and/or when a teacher candidate completes two placements-one in a program content area and the other for middle level endorsement.

The strong connection with the unit and the school-based faculty is evident when designing, implementing, and evaluating the unit's clinical work. Classroom teachers and administrators serve on the unit's Reflective Practice Committee and examine the unit's Conceptual Framework, clinical experiences, and evaluation of the field experiences. The unit's clinical faculty work with its school partners to be sure they know, understand, and follow the Conceptual Framework. There is involvement of partnership districts for collaborative decisions about philosophies, policies, and clinical fieldwork. Surveys are distributed throughout the academic year to seek data about the unit's field experiences, clinical practices, professional development, and resources. While there are formal exit evaluations for each field experience, additional database surveys are designed, implemented, and evaluated to determine and support the needs of the school partners, clinical faculty, and teacher candidates. For example, every payment requisition by a cooperating teacher submitted through RICpay.org, includes a feedback survey. Collecting and using data from the exit evaluations is a significant part of the process to maximize the learning experience for teacher candidates, as well as the PK-12 students. The unit is also beginning to include additional input and feedback from partnership clinical instructors from varied districts through the work of the Partnership and Placement Committee.

Professional development opportunities for unit faculty with the school-based partners have been a high priority the past two years. The unit planned a series of Assessment Workshops to teach unit faculty and school based-faculty the Observation and Progress Report (OPR) used during the student teaching clinical experience. The Workshop, “Assessing Teaching Behaviors: Introduction to An Assessment Instrument For Teacher Candidates and Reflection of Teaching Behaviors,” introduced the participants to the assessment instrument, which analyzes teaching behaviors and documents the growth of these behaviors. The cooperating teachers who attended this professional development, and who mentor teacher education candidates, learned and analyzed the assessment. They learned how to implement the instrument and reliably score each section. Examination of the scoring criteria and the six-point rubric was addressed. Teachers were exposed to the proper terminology of scoring (analytic holistic scoring, criterion versus norm referenced scoring, performance level rubric, scoring criteria, indicators, normative versus developmental). They discussed teaching behaviors, using the defined assessment rubric, in large and then small groups. They practiced using the rubrics by watching effective and ineffective teaching behaviors of videotaped instruction. Finally, the participants reflected on how exposure to this assessment would assist them with reflective teaching practices in their own classrooms and their own teaching. Each participant left with the knowledge of the assessment, application to their work with teacher candidates, as well as information to improve their own instruction. Cooperating teachers from twenty-two of the unit's thirty partnership districts or 75.86% attended one of the four trainings; this attendance supports the unit and school partners' collaborative work to support teacher candidate learning. Additional professional development for the unit and school-based faculty included a series of four trainings about conceptual and practical tools to help PK-12 teachers create and cultivate a vision of cultural competency to guide them in their work with diverse learners and families. The comprehensive one-day trainings allowed cooperating teachers, clinical instructors, and unit faculty the opportunity to enrich their strategies for cross cultural communication, deepen their skills in working effectively with diverse learners and better mentor teacher candidates in developing cultural competencies. The unit also conducted a series of three NCTM E-Workshops focusing on meeting the needs of all learners using differentiated instruction in mathematics. The unit is piloting a three-credit online course for cooperating teachers of initial programs to learn the assessments and skill sets to serve as a cooperating teacher. The six modules for the course are: 1.Introduction to Blackboard and Online Learning; 2. Introduction to supervision of teacher candidates; 3. Rhode Island Professional Teaching Standards (RIPTS); 4. Cultural Competency; 5. Assessments in Student Teaching Module and 6. Mentoring/Coaching Your Teacher Candidate.

The unit and its school partners work collaboratively to place teacher candidates for clinical field experiences. For example, with a secondary education program student teaching placement, the unit faculty and its school partners (cooperating teachers, principals, and district administrators) work together to determine the best field experience based on student data, teacher background, school needs, and requirement for the teacher candidate to be placed in a setting not experienced during other field experiences. Three of our partner districts/schools now require a formal interview prior to a student teaching placement; this supplementary criterion of clinical placement demonstrates the partnership of the unit with partner schools in working together to place a teacher candidate with the appropriate cooperating teachers. Work is also evident with school partners and the unit sharing expertise and resources with professional development opportunities and teamwork in supporting teacher candidates through shared resources such as technology. One of the unit program's partner schools trained teacher candidates on the use of Smart boards during their student teaching experiences, and then a practicum class was brought to the school so additional teacher candidates could be exposed to this technology in an authentic setting.

The unit also houses The Office of Community Service Learning (OCSL), home to a multitude of community related projects and field experiences which serves FSEHD faculty, teacher candidates, school districts, community based organizations and the campus community by providing support for and facilitation of community collaborations, the provision of volunteer services, outreach initiatives, community focused events, administration of the teacher candidate community service requirement, consultative services, and more. See more in Standard 5 Narrative.

3b. Design, Implementation, and Evaluation

Entry and exit requirements for clinical practice are clearly stated in the unit's handbooks, websites, and course syllabi. There are minimum grade requirements, content knowledge, and professional disposition criteria to progress from each clinical experience. Candidates maintain a Preparing to Teach Portfolio through the methods course sequence that documents their knowledge, skills and dispositions through mastery of the RIPTS, national standards, and objectives in each clinical course as identified in course syllabi. In the Preparing to Teach Portfolio, candidates assemble artifacts of teaching strategies, including a unit plan, lessons, and assessments with data about student learning. The artifacts are organized to show coherence, to showcase candidate skills and dispositions, and to provide an opportunity for candidates to reflect deeply about their teaching philosophy, pedagogy, and their continued learning. The candidate, the program coordinator, faculty, the unit, and clinical instructors each have a role are able to assess each candidate's growth, areas needing development, plans for improvement, and whether the candidate is ready to student teach. During student teaching, the Teacher Candidate Work Sample (TCWS) is a product that demonstrates the candidate's ability to plan, deliver, and assess a standards-based instructional sequence; document student performance; and reflect upon the effects of his/her instruction on student learning. The TCWS provides written evidence of the teacher candidate's ability to have a positive impact on student learning.

Teacher candidates participate in numerous and extensive clinical experiences within the partnership districts with field-based clinical instructors. Field experiences for initial programs are well sequenced and progressively move the teacher candidate through the progression of observation, partner, small group, large group and culminating with a full-time student teaching field experience of fourteen to fifteen weeks in the classroom. Each teacher preparation program provides its students with a varying number of pre-student teaching field placements, in addition to field experiences included as part of FNED 346 (undergraduate) or FNED 546 (graduate), the first professional course. All methods courses and field experiences are designed to provide the candidate with opportunities to develop and demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and dispositions of the unit's Conceptual Framework and the RIPTS. In one introductory education course, teacher candidates observe teachers in the field and participate in scholarly discussions about effective teaching. In another course teacher candidates are in clinical settings for ten hours where they teach literacy-based lessons where they “learn through doing.” During the completion of these courses, candidates face instructional decisions in the real-world setting of a variety of classrooms and receive feedback from both the course instructor, classroom teacher, and often from a school-based administrator who has observed their work. In elementary education, teacher candidates complete six clinical experiences prior to student teaching. These experiences cover content and pedagogy in reading, language arts, social studies, science, and mathematics. In early childhood, teacher candidates complete five clinical experiences prior to student teaching in the following content areas: mathematics, literacy and language arts. In secondary education, teacher candidates complete three clinical experiences, in technology, literacy, and content specific pedagogy. Physical education teacher candidates complete three clinical experiences in team activities, rhythms, and individual/dual activities prior to student teaching. Health candidates complete two clinical experiences in content specific pedagogy and then student teach. Technology education candidates complete three clinical experiences with hours in elementary and secondary technology education prior to split placements for student teaching clinical experiences. Music education candidates complete three content and pedagogy clinical experiences. Art education candidates prior to student teaching complete two clinical experiences. In special education, all candidates complete four clinical experiences prior to their student teaching placement; content includes introduction to characteristics and education of children with disabilities, principle/procedures of behavior management, assessment procedures, and curriculum, assessment and methodology of children with mild/moderate disabilities. Candidates enrolled in the severe/profound certification program complete an additional clinical experience about assessment and instruction of children and/or adolescents with severe/profound disabilities.

There are twenty-one advanced programs in the unit and approximately half of those are designed for advanced teachers. Advanced programs are well sequenced and designed to provide the candidate with extensive, in-depth field experiences that develop and refine advanced competencies. There are over sixty field experiences in the programs with twelve graduate level practica and fourteen internships incorporated within various program requirements. Ongoing assessment within the unit courses, as well as unit level assessment, serves as decision points for candidate progress throughout their programs. Experiences at the advanced level range from laboratory or clinical experiences to internship assignments in a school district.  They involve direct interaction with students or clients during which the graduate candidate determines the needs of the population and implements strategies for success.  A unit-wide summary of field experiences is provided reflecting the broad range of programs and the highly specialized nature of the field experiences.

There is a close working relationship with the unit's faculty and the on-site clinical instructors. The unit requires that individuals working with our teacher candidates during pratudent teaching. While performance expectations at the Preparing to Teach level are different from those expected during student teaching; the parallel design of the Mini Work Sample and TCWS is intended to establish consistency in criterion-based assessment across time and help candidates internalize unit expectations. The TCWS is a product that demonstrates a candidate's ability to plan, deliver, and assess a standards-based instructional sequence, document student performance, and reflect upon the effects of his/her instruction on student learning. The TCWS contains seven teaching processes identified by research and best practice as fundamental to improving student learning. Through the TCWS, each teacher candidate provides evidence of his/her performance relative to seven processes. What distinguishes the TCWS from the other unit assessments is the emphasis on improving PK-12 student achievement; the TCWS provides written evidence of each teacher candidate's ability to have a positive impact student learning.

The student teaching experience and the student teaching seminar are considered the culminating courses for initial and advanced teacher candidates for the unit. This fourteen to fifteen week, five-day a week, final clinical experience requires teacher candidates to work full time in the classroom and school setting. This experience introduces the teacher candidate to the practices of a professional teacher. Teacher candidates work side-by-side with their cooperating teacher to extend their experience of planning, curriculum, implementation, engaging in long-term educational goal setting, setting objectives and implementing assessment practices of student performance. The teacher candidate is responsible for planning and submitting lesson and unit plans on a daily and weekly basis and implementing formative and summative evaluation processes of their teaching performance.

The unit requires the use of technology as an instructional tool during the field experiences and clinical practice for all initial and advanced programs in the unit. All teacher candidates must pass a technology examination or complete a specific technology course at the college in order to prove their competence in technology. This entry technology requirement is in the process of being revised, updated, and strengthened by fall 2011. Integration of technology is a required component of elementary, early childhood, special education, k-12 programs, secondary education teacher programs as well as all advanced programs. Many classes are held in STEM classrooms with unit faculty modeling current technology with LCD's, digital and flip video camera use, videoconferencing, podcasting, and e-portfolios. Most courses and unit faculty (about 80%) use the Blackboard Learning Management System as a platform and some teacher candidates are introduced to hybrid and online medium of delivery.

The unit has updated the means of requesting and securing all clinical field experiences with the use of Survey Gizmo, an online survey based system; formal data collection for field experiences are electronic with the use of this system. Survey Gizmo (exclusive of the programs piloting Chalk and Wire), is used to request and document clinical experiences and student teaching observation reports, exit evaluations, payment requests, teacher candidate work sample data, dispositions, and exit evaluations. The unit implemented two pilots with another web based assessment system called Chalk and Wire, fall 2010 and spring 2011. Twenty-nine teacher candidates in the fall (elementary, special education and some secondary education programs), and their corresponding cooperating teachers and college supervisors were trained to input observation reports for student teaching. In the spring of 2011, seventy-one teacher candidates in special education and their corresponding cooperating teachers and college supervisors were trained to use this data assessment system. Evaluation of the second pilot will take place in May of 2011 to determine the plans for full-scale implementation across all programs. A part time, twenty-hour a week, technology specialist was hired to work with teacher candidates, faculty, cooperating teachers, college supervisors, and administrators to learn Chalk and Wire. This technology specialist has also been a resource person and assists with technology issues for our teacher education program.

3c. Knowledge Skills, and Dispositions to Help All Students Learn

Teacher candidates are eligible for clinical experiences if they meet all unit program requirements including minimum grades in required courses. The average GPA for initial teacher candidates is 3.3 and 95.7% of unit teacher candidates earn a B- or better to enter and complete clinical practice successfully. There were 294 teacher candidates enrolled in clinical initial courses the past academic year and 117 teacher candidates completing student teaching experience in fall 2010 and 172 for spring 2011.

Unit faculty, university supervisors, school-based-faculty and teacher candidates each have a role in assessing candidate performance and continually monitoring results during clinical practice. This collaborative work is defined in course syllabi, program requirements, and unit assessment descriptions. Each teacher preparation program offers a series of sequential clinical courses designed to move the candidate from initial knowledge and skill levels and build upon that foundation in each succeeding course. Clinical experience courses have a two-fold purpose: 1) to allow teacher preparation candidates the opportunity to put into practice theoretical constructs introduced in the unit classroom setting, and to work with a school-based clinical instructor; and 2) to provide an opportunity for the unit university supervisor and the clinical instructor to observe and evaluate the candidate's suitability as a teacher. Initial candidates maintain a Preparing to Teach Portfolio through the methods course sequence that documents their knowledge, skills, and dispositions through mastery of state and national standards and objectives covered in each methods course and identified on course syllabi. The data from required disposition assessments, course requirements, formal unit assessments (Implemented Lesson Plan, Mini Teacher Candidate Work Sample, Teacher Candidate Work Sample and Observation and Progress Report) are used to determine if teacher candidates are prepared to move to the next program course or clinical experience.

The direct oversight of field components in advanced programs is provided on the program level, and, as such, programs use retention and promotion policies that are crafted for the program. The common understanding across programs that defines readiness for field experiences is most closely connected to the unit level formative point. Information to determine a candidate's knowledge, skills, and dispositions as indicators of preparedness for Practica, Internship, or other intensive field-based experiences is based on materials such as displayed competence in anchor assignments, grades in preparatory courses, review of portfolio entries, etc. If the progress of a candidate leading up to field experiences does not adequately indicate preparedness for such work, advisors develop remedial plans for that candidate. In 2010, approximately 150 advanced program candidates proceeded through program requirements (including field experiences) and graduated from FSEHD programs.

Unit faculty have been trained on the needs of English Language Learners and that preparation is now being incorporated into education courses. In FNED 346 students consider the ideological messages implicit in the language surrounding students whose first language is not English and become familiar with the most prominent findings in the relevant literature. In other courses students explore the complex struggles faced by English language learners and practice scaffolding strategies that support the acquisition of academic language in the content areas. Currently, several unit faculty members - one who teaches the entry courses to teacher education programs (FNED 346), one in the Elementary Education and one in Secondary Education- are participating in Project BriTE; a funded program through Brown University designed to improve teacher education around the education of ELLs. The Coordinator of the M.Ed. in TESL Program is serving as site coordinator. The unit faculty involved are integrating more treatment of ELLs into their coursework and piloting those revised courses spring 2011. Assurances are being made that all teacher candidates develop the knowledge and skills future educators need to effectively serve English Language Learners.

A special education course is required of all elementary and early childhood teacher candidates; a separate and newly developed section of this course (SPED 433), specifically designed for secondary education teacher candidates, is required of the secondary education teacher candidates. The PK-12 initial programs have required special education content in meeting the needs of students with exceptionalities, students from diverse ethnical/racial, linguistic, gender and socioeconomic groups. These courses provide instruction for adapting general education lessons for students with disabilities. The collaboration purposes, models, strategies, and roles of the special educator are addressed. Some topics taught include collaborative teaching, parent interactions and planning, and teaching and using assessment strategies in special education. Students must receive a grade of B- or higher in this course to continue with the teacher preparation program certification track.

The Mini Teacher Candidate Work Sample and the Teacher Candidate Work Sample, as previously described, are specific examples of assessments to assure that teacher candidates collect and analyze data on student learning, reflect on the data, and develop strategies to modify instruction to improve student learning during clinical practice. Candidates design an assessment plan, which uses multiple forms of assessment, aligned with unit objectives to assess student learning. The plan must include pre, post, formative, and summative measures which authentically measure and monitor student learning. Both ongoing assessment within program courses and unit level assessment provide information about advanced candidate performance in their fieldwork. Course products and rubrics are aligned to SPA standards as well as the Conceptual Framework, providing an on-going assessment of advanced candidate knowledge, skills, and professional dispositions. Feedback about candidate performance in field-based experiences such as practica and internship include face-to-face meetings with site supervisors and unit faculty. In addition, advanced programs solicit written feedback from site supervisors to assess the quality of a candidate's work. Candidates also formally reflect on their field experiences; this is another source of performance review. Recent implementation of the Professional Impact Project (PIP) as the unit-level summative assessment point for all advanced candidates will provide further detail on the actual efficacy of candidates' interventions with their constituents (e.g. students, clients, or teachers). The unit is presently compiling information on clinical as well as theory course requirements and how each initial and advanced program teaches data-driven assessments to candidates in order that they effectively know how to collect, analyze, and use data for student learning.

Research Related to Standard 3

Unit faculty is active in research examining and analyzing field experiences and clinical practices. There are numerous content specific examples of research but there are also several recent research studies that define, explain, and investigate the unit's work. First, unit faculty members from two different programs (elementary education and special education) conducted a study that analyzed the observation reports (n=144) written by the elementary and special education college supervisors and cooperating teachers. The purposes of the analysis were to 1) review the language and ratings used by clinical supervisors about teacher candidates' practice during student teaching; 2) demonstrate how supervisors, in institutional documents, account for, explain, or inform stakeholders of the practices observed; 3) explore implications about best practice feedback. Second, another unit faculty member conducted case study research on the relationship between the cooperating teacher and the teacher candidate. Her research questions included: What institutional, ideological, and relational conflicts occur between cooperating teachers and candidates? How do candidates perceive these conflicts, and how do they negotiate their work together once conflicts occur? What compromises and choices do candidates make in order to maintain the integrity of their pedagogical beliefs and maintain a stable relationship with their cooperating teachers? How do changes in candidate identity impact or influence their perceptions of their cooperating teachers and how they negotiate power within the relationship and the classroom? Another research project involved analyzing unit student teaching exit evaluations(Total Cooperating Teachers= 225, Total College Supervisor= 225, Total Teacher Candidate=225 Total n=675). Comments were categorized into common themes with a percentage of participation in the themes. Work was conducted by three unit faculty on the revisions to the unit teacher education programs. They provided a history of how dramatic change evolved in (1) assessment, (2) curriculum, and (3) partnership/clinical experience through the analysis of quantitative and qualitative data. Case studies examined the assessment “loop” to improve the teacher education program for candidates. A team of five professionals (faculty, administrators, and technology professional) presented the results of using an e-portfolio platform for data collection during student teaching. Finally, an Elementary Education faculty member has been providing classroom based embedded professional development in teaching writing in one of our urban districts. This long-standing service has evolved into a research study examining the impact of prospective elementary school teachers (teacher candidates) learning about the teaching of writing. Teacher candidates learn about how to teach writing to elementary school children in a real classroom setting, alongside classroom teachers who are examining their own teaching practices.

Conclusion

The unit's close working relationship with the partnership districts and the school-based clinical faculty is one of the strengths of the unit's field experiences and clinical practice. The qualifications of the unit's clinical faculty are exceptionally strong with 65% holding a Master's Degree, 31% a Bachelor's Degree, and 4% with advanced graduate degrees, such as a Graduate Certificate of Advanced Study and Doctorate Degrees. Note that the unit's state does not require a Master's Degree as part of the evaluation and professional development for teachers so the percentage of clinical faculty who hold a Master's appears to be quite strong. Last academic year, 96% of the unit's clinical faculty in the schools reported they know and use the Conceptual Framework with teacher candidates. Unit faculty have developed and nurtured long-standing affiliations with schools and clinical faculty that provide stability and sustainability for observing, modeling, and placing teacher candidates for clinical practice. New partnerships have been established as the unit continues to seek out the most effective sites and professionals to work with our candidates. Recently there has been a stronger visibility of faculty and administrators involved in clinical placements; the developments of new professional development projects and school and district wide collaborative work have been established. Criteria for the selection of school-based clinical faculty is closely followed and unit administrators and district partnerships work together to place teacher candidates with experienced school-based professionals who have been trained to serve as clinical instructors, cooperating teachers, or intern mentors. A tracking system for school-based faculty who score low ratings from candidates, supervisors, and unit faculty has been established. Following the completion of the evaluation of the online course, a revised annual training schedule will be established to best meet the needs of the unit's school partners for training and professional development. Unit assessments in clinical practice are research-based and collected at interval times in order to assist with candidate evaluation to ensure that candidates demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and professional dispositions to progress through the teacher preparation program. The unit requires teacher candidates to complete varied clinical experiences in diverse settings with multiple opportunities to collaborate with clinical instructors and unit faculty in order to apply content and pedagogical practice. The unit is committed to preparing candidates who are confident in working with students with exceptionalities, students from diverse ethnic/racial, linguistic, gender, and socioeconomic groups and to have a positive impact on PK-12 student learning. The survey the unit is completing on examining the use of data with student learning and the requirements within each course will further assist the unit in ensuring candidates learn to collect, analyze, and use data for student improvement. Unit faculty is involved with research that evaluates clinical practices, assessments, and the role of the cooperating teacher; results allow the unit to further examine field experiences and clinical practice.

Finally, in addition to field experiences and clinical practices, the unit offers initial and advanced candidates a variety of community service and service learning opportunities in PK-12 schools and afterschool programs throughout the state. See the community service learning report, list of community service collaborative projects, and sample candidate testimonies.  Candidates actively serve students during the academic year and summer by providing academic tutoring, mentoring, enrichment, coaching, reading assessment and treatment, and Inquiry Based STEM activities in charter and public schools as well as non-profits and local AmeriCorps VISTA program sites. The Office of Community Service Learning, as part of the unit's School of Education, leverages these placements and assists candidates in identifying and enrolling in opportunities that enhance their skills and expand their learning.  At any given time throughout the year, over 200 initial and advanced candidates serve upwards of 1,000 elementary middle and high school students in diverse field and clinical experiences.  This Community Service Requirement further demonstrates the unit's commitment to the value of community service learning in the development of future teachers. The requirement calls for 25 hours of service to be completed in both instructional and non-instructional settings with the hours documented and submitted to the Office of Community Service Learning at least one semester prior to student teaching. Along with a log sheet of hours, candidates submit reflective essays and respond to a brief qualitative  survey regarding their experiences.

   
and unit faculty has been established. Following the completion of the evaluation of the online course, a revised annual training schedule will be established to best meet the needs of the unit's school partners for training and professional development. Unit assessments in clinical practice are research-based and collected at interval times in order to assist with candidate evaluation to ensure that candidates demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and professional dispositions to progress through the teacher preparation program. The unit requires teacher candidates to complete varied clinical experiences in diverse settings with multiple opportunities to collaborate with clinical instructors and unit faculty in order to apply content and pedagogical practice. The unit is committed to preparing candidates who are confident in working with students with exceptionalities, students from diverse ethnic/racial, linguistic, gender, and socioeconomic groups and to have a positive impact on PK-12 student learning. The survey the unit is completing on examining the use of data with student learning and the requirements within each course will further assist the unit in ensuring candidates learn to collect, analyze, and use data for student improvement. Unit faculty is involved with research that evaluates clinical practices, assessments, and the role of the cooperating teacher; results allow the unit to further examine field experiences and clinical practice.

Finally, in addition to field experiences and clinical practices, the unit offers initial and advanced candidates a variety of community service and service learning opportunities in PK-12 schools and afterschool programs throughout the state. See the community service learning report, list of community service collaborative projects, and sample candidate testimonies.  Candidates actively serve students during the academic year and summer by providing academic tutoring, mentoring, enrichment, coaching, reading assessment and treatment, and Inquiry Based STEM activities in charter and public schools as well as non-profits and local AmeriCorps VISTA program sites. The Office of Community Service Learning, as part of the unit's School of Education, leverages these placements and assists candidates in identifying and enrolling in opportunities that enhance their skills and expand their learning.  At any given time throughout the year, over 200 initial and advanced candidates serve upwards of 1,000 elementary middle and high school students in diverse field and clinical experiences.  This Community Service Requirement further demonstrates the unit's commitment to the value of community service learning in the development of future teachers. The requirement calls for 25 hours of service to be completed in both instructional and non-instructional settings with the hours documented and submitted to the Office of Community Service Learning at least one semester prior to student teaching. Along with a log sheet of hours, candidates submit reflective essays and respond to a brief qualitative  survey regarding their experiences.