A renewed Bachelor of Education program at the U of S College of Education has caught the attention of researchers working to improve how new teachers are prepared for K-12 classrooms.
“It’s always been challenging to be a teacher, but things are a bit more complex now,” said Karen Goodnough from Memorial University of Newfoundland. “For example, classrooms are expected to be inclusive, and there are so many diverse learners. The expectation is that the regular classroom teacher meets all their needs. It’s a huge challenge.”
Goodnough is leading the project with colleagues Ron MacDonald from the University of Prince Edward Island and Thomas Falkenberg from the University of Manitoba. They are looking at the challenge of translating theory in the university classroom into practice in K-12 classrooms.
The U of S BEd program, which took in its first cohort of students in fall 2012, is one of six chosen from a field of 64 across Canada for the study. Criteria included a strong element of collaboration and critical reflection; cohesive, well-articulated programs; and a high level of integration among the university courses and K-12 teaching. The program also had to be relatively new.
The research team is looking at how faculties of education connect and integrate theory for students. They will explore what barriers prevent this from happening, such as time constraints of faculty, lack of access to technology, or obstacles in the structure of programs, as well as how these challenges are being effectively addressed.
The team will visit the U of S and other selected programs beginning this spring and wrapping up in 2015. They will conduct interviews and surveys with faculty and students, and will observe classroom activity both on and off campus, including accompanying students during internships. Ultimately, said Goodnough, the goal is to more effectively prepare teachers for today’s dynamic school environments.