Standard 5. Faculty are qualified and model best professional practices in scholarship, service, and teaching, including the assessment of their own effectiveness as related to candidate performance; they also collaborate with colleagues in the disciplines and schools. The unit systematically evaluates faculty performance and facilitates professional development.
5.1 How does the unit ensure that its professional education faculty contributes to the preparation of effective educators through scholarship, service, teaching, collaboration and assessment of their performance?
As referenced in our Conceptual Framework, our candidates and faculty are committed to lifelong learning and aspire to meet educational needs in a changing, pluralistic, and democratic society. To accomplish this goal, we must have highly qualified faculty members as teacher scholars who serve not only our institution, but also our schools and the profession itself, at local, state, national, and international levels.
Professional education unit faculty hold the credentials and have the professional experience to support the high quality programs at JMU. All faculty with assignments in the professional education unit hold the required degrees, expertise and/or certification that qualify them for the positions. Faculty represent the College of Education, College of Visual & Performing Arts, College of Integrated Science and Technology, and College of Mathematics and Science. It should also be noted that additional faculty in these colleges, as well as the College of Arts and Letters and the School of University Studies, are closely connected with the education programs, although their appointments reside outside of the Professional Education Unit. Over 130 full-time faculty have roles and responsibilities assigned to the preparation of teachers and other school professionals. Of these, 120 hold terminal degrees in the appropriate fields. In addition to the full-time, tenure-track faculty in the unit, 13 full-time (non-tenure-track) faculty with the rank of instructor teach courses and/or supervise field experiences, and part-time, adjunct faculty instructors have similar responsibilities Adjunct faculty have either a doctorate or master’s degree with other specialized qualifications (e.g., clinical certification, school- or district-level teaching or administration). Some adjunct faculty are currently P-12 school teachers who are recognized for their expertise in particular subject areas. Clinical faculty who supervise field experiences including clinical practice and internships, also have credentials that include both appropriate degrees as well as teaching and/or administrative licenses. Many of the clinical faculty members who act as field experience supervisors are retired COE administrators, superintendents, supervisors, and principals who hold state licensure and considerable experience. Careful selection, orientation and support of clinical faculty ensure that the goals of each program are met.
Faculty are expected to demonstrate a thorough understanding of the content they teach, scholarly work in their fields of specialization, and service to the college, university, schools and broader community. These three components serve as the basis for all full-time faculty members’ annual evaluation.
Professional education faculty have an in-depth understanding of their fields and are actively engaged in integrating current knowledge of content and the scholarship of teaching and learning into their teaching practices. Faculty encourage the development of reflection, critical thinking, and problem solving by candidates through the individual course activities and assignments. Course syllabi reflect skillful incorporation of best practices in candidate opportunities for learning, application of instructional strategies and successful application of a range of assessment tools. Examples are further described in the following paragraphs.
Candidate opportunities to develop skills as reflective practitioners include but are not limited to: reflective journal writing, self-evaluation of their teaching practices, reflections on research readings, on-line reflections related to course experiences, and reflections in final portfolios on artifacts related to concepts, theories, and objectives emphasized in courses. Critical thinking and problem-solving skills are addressed through the use of case studies, critiques of journal articles with implications for professional practice, discussions of controversial issues, application questions on mid-term and final course examinations, and development of projects such as teacher work samples and inquiry projects that require active candidate engagement in using the problem-solving skills of synthesis, analysis, and evaluation of multiple variables.
Teaching is a high priority across the unit. Faculty model a variety of instructional strategies and assessments to support candidates’ development of professional, state, and institutional standards. Examples of instructional strategies used in classes include but are not limited to: interactive lectures, guest lectures, whole group and small group discussions, multimedia rich presentations (video, slides, video conferencing, PowerPoint, SmartBoards), web-enhanced learning, cooperative learning activities, candidate presentations, learning contracts, concept maps, and case studies and simulations. Assessment of candidate learning is key. Unit faculty members report using and modeling both formative and summative assessment strategies in their courses, as well as using traditional and authentic assessments. Examples include but are not limited to: written essay and multiple tests (in-class and take home exams), skills assessment of selected performances such as demonstrations, oral presentations, evaluation of lessons taught, reflective papers and journals, annotated bibliographies, lab reports, critique of research articles, completion of literature reviews, online and classroom discussions, pre-and post-surveys, midterm and final written exams, research papers, projects, and portfolios.
Supported by technology-equipped classrooms and support services for developing technology skills, unit faculty members integrate various types of technology applications in their instruction. Sample applications include Blackboard, personal response systems, and Smartboards, as well as iPads, digital cameras, and flipcams. Three computer labs are located in Memorial Hall, where most of the education classes are located, as well as classroom buildings throughout the university campus. In addition, two laptop carts and an iPad cart are available. The support of the Education Technology and Media Center (ETMC) and the Center for Instructional Technology (CIT) are invaluable in the development, delivery, and evaluation of instruction delivered and supported via technology.
Faculty demonstrate being reflective practitioners by regularly assessing their own teaching, not only informally through discussions with candidates and regular course feedback using exit tickets and anonymous surveys, but also formally at the end of each semester through the course and instructor evaluations. Many unit faculty utilize the services of the Center for Faculty Innovation (CFI) in conducting TAPs (Teaching Analysis Poll). The TAP process provides anonymous feedback on several aspects of the course to the faculty at midterm. The information is invaluable to the faculty and allows time for making adjustments in the course delivery, content, and assessment to better support the learning of the candidates. Excellence in teaching is highly valued by the unit. All classes are evaluated each semester using the agreed-upon rubric. A five-point scale measures candidates’ perceptions on major constructs of the courses such as content, organization, instruction, evaluation, reflection, climate, and technology. Data suggest that faculty are successful in being effective teachers regardless of the format – standard face-to-face, online, or field-based classes.
Scholarly activity and service are expected of all full time faculty members. General guidelines are provided in the university Faculty Handbook. For example scholarship is broadly defined and includes such activities as publication of scholarly works, presentations at professional conferences, achievement through performance in the arts, engaging in recognized research, obtaining research grants, continuing professional development through formal course work, publication of educational materials, and consulting activities. These are further delineated by each department across the unit. Similar guidelines are provided for service.
The university’s Faculty Handbook describes the university expectations for the evaluation process and identifies three types of evaluations: initial, annual and comprehensive. It also identifies the three areas of performance – teaching, scholarly achievement and professional qualifications, and professional service to be assessed.
A number of college-wide and unit-wide professional development-related meetings/events are held throughout the academic year. Several of these focused on providing faculty and staff professional information. Opportunities for research grants, travel support, and collaborative projects are supported through professional development funds distributed through the Faculty Development and Support Committee. Each college is awarded a number of grants for educational leave based on available funding. The leaves are awarded through a competitive process within each college. Eligibility is limited to faculty who have been at the university at least three years and who have not had a leave in the previous five years.
The unit also provides regular professional development opportunities for its clinical faculty. University supervisors are provided an initial half-day orientation for all new supervisors, as well as a full-day seminar each semester for all active supervisors. In addition, the unit supports the efforts of its clinical faculty through a tuition waiver plan. Clinical faculty may earn course tuition waivers by accumulating "units" that are earned based on various roles and levels of involvement with JMU faculty or candidates (e.g., serving as cooperating teachers for practicum and /or student teachers; teaching selected class sessions within education courses, or participating in action inquiry projects). The Education Support Center (ESC) and/or individual program coordinators issue vouchers for units earned at the end of each semester.
5.2.b Continuous Improvement
In 2004-05, the College of Education initiated a mentoring program for new faculty. While JMU has an established program for transitioning new faculty to the JMU community, the college determined that the specific nature of our work would support having our own program. This program has continued through the last seven years and has expanded to include faculty in their first two years. Topics include getting to know the JMU student, practices to improve teaching, and balancing scholarship, teaching and service at the university. It is anticipated that the mentoring program will continue with the addition of special sessions that will be of interest to faculty across the unit involved in the preparation of teachers and other school professionals.
Throughout the last seven years, support and recognition for faculty effort in scholarly activity has continued. In response to faculty request and a university initiative, a Scholarly Writers Group was instituted in 2006-07, to support the scholarship and publication agenda of CoE faculty. Co-sponsored by the University Writing Center and the Center for Faculty Innovation, the Writers Group met two Fridays each month during Spring 2007 under the expert mentorship of Dr. Kurt Schick. Although not formally organized in the last two years, individual faculty have continued with these projects, often utilizing the faculty commons area as a space to write and share. Recently, the college participated in a university-wide scholarship forum. Faculty from each college department provided evidence of their scholarly endeavors. These will be showcased again at the start of the 2011-12 academic year. Individual faculty projects are routinely highlighted on the college website.
In addition to the professional development opportunities offered to all university faculty, several professional development opportunities are offered for unit faculty. For example, during 2007-08, CoE faculty book groups developed, focusing on current issues in education, followed by visiting scholars to facilitate discussion (E.D. Hirsch and Gary Marx). The book groups were so successful that they continued as the Education Faculty Reading Group, with faculty focusing on books related to leadership, teaching and the context of education. Other professional development opportunities have included faculty brown bag sessions on topics of interest such as TWS, Universal Design, and Assessment Practices. Some of these events have been open to both faculty and students, presenting a unique opportunity to share in our professional learning trajectory. These professional development opportunities have been available to not only faculty in the college, but across the unit. In an effort to be as inclusive as possible, a survey will be developed and distributed to unit faculty as we plan events for the upcoming academic year.
ETMC staff members continue to actively support classroom instruction at faculty requests presenting on a variety of topics including: JMU electronic database resources, digital video applications, web 2.0 resources for learning, digital copyright and fair use law, SmartBoardTM technologies, concept mapping, specific software tools and technologies as requested by faculty. The ETMC staff also is involved with the Shenandoah Valley Technology Consortium supporting various projects related to K-12 educational technologies in the area. The ETMC continues to work on upgrading a variety of technologies available in the center. As a result, these increasingly utilized tools for instruction found their way into many classrooms in the College of Education. To support this effort we upgraded several of our video editing computer lab machines to be more capable and functional for our students and faculty. Particular support is provided on the Tk20 electronic data management system.
During the 2007-08 academic year, the Faculty Development and Support Committee investigated the departmental practices for reviewing faculty for tenure, promotion and annual reviews. The data collected provided a picture of the practices across the college and also suggested areas for improvement to support faculty development and success. Continuing this cross-department inquiry, departments continued these efforts to clarify the expectations that the respective department uses for the three different types of evaluations (initial, annual, and tenure and promotion) as required by the Faculty Handbook. The goal of this work is not to have all departments look alike, but instead to make more transparent departmental expectations for faculty productivity so that all faculty are informed as to how they are progressing and will be evaluated at various points in their career. This committee is also responsible for the identification of faculty for university awards as distinguished teacher, scholar, and service provider. Mini-grants and/or research and teaching grants are provided to support teaching and scholarship efforts.
In-service needs of teachers in our partnership schools receive high priority. For example, Harrisonburg City Schools have the highest proportion of English as Second Language Learners in the Commonwealth. In order to meet the needs of these students in the classroom, a professional development program in teaching second language learners was developed and is delivered through the JMU Office of Outreach and Engagement. Originally developed as a certificate program, the option exists for teachers to complete requirements for certification in the area. To date 133 teachers have participated in the program. Addressing the needs of teaching the gifted and talented student has been addressed in a similar fashion. A certificate program has also been offered through the JMU Offices of Outreach and Engagement, enrolling over 639 teachers.
Both of the programs mentioned above (ESL and Gifted and Talented) have been made available to our pre-service teachers but have met with little participation. Both programs mentioned above provide professional development for in-service teachers but are not structured to provide explicit linkages between these professional development offerings and our teacher candidates.