Cross-Cutting Theme: Diversity
Located in the second largest urban area of the state, Purdue University Northwest’s (PNW) student body ranks above average in ethnic diversity, racial representation in faculty, and age diversity (College Factual). As part of this diverse institution, the Educator Preparation Program (EPP) is committed to creating a culture of teaching and learning that reflects, acknowledges, and celebrates diversity. The EPP’s Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion states:
The PNW Educator Preparation Program works collaboratively with its candidates, clinical partners, faculty and staff members to create and sustain a community where all feel welcomed, respected and included. We are committed to diverse working and learning environments which improve intellectual skills and performance, improve self-confidence, decrease stereotypes and biases, and create awareness of inequalities and discrimination that are able to be addressed through engagement in emancipatory learning. It is through this engagement that we draw on the full contributions of all segments of society regardless of their race or ethnic identity, sexual orientation, religion, age, gender expression, disability status, socio-economic status or any other dimension of diversity.
Anchored by The Educational Leader conceptual framework, candidates in the EPP are prepared to use research to construct knowledge in continuous and integrated inquiry and to develop their practice through sustained engagement in diverse learning environments and their community; ones in which they cultivate relationships with learners, partners and stakeholders. Diversity is explicitly incorporated within and across degree programs’ plans of study. Each educational course syllabus contains an explicit connection to diversity (CAEP 1). Within these courses, faculty members include:
- activities that help candidates to become more aware of their own cultural backgrounds and attitudes towards people who are different;
- research that is inclusive and diverse;
- choose and create examples in courses that highlight diversity; and
- include skills, strategies, and practices that candidates need to acquire in order to be culturally competent.
Cross-cultural Field-based Experiences
As an essential part of the EPP’s commitment to diversity, cross-cultural field-based experiences provide opportunities for candidates to apply theories, strategies, and understandings developed in university coursework in P-12 settings and allow them to engage in “becoming a learner of their students’ realities” (Nieto, 2006, p.184). The EPP employs an intentional and developmental sequence of field-based experiences across program areas to ensure that candidates engage with a diverse range of students and educators (CAEP 2). It is through these experiences that candidates develop and apply the knowledge, skills, and dispositions of culturally responsive educators. Each experience requires that candidates engage in a Service Learning Project with the partner school/agency for its benefit. Service Learning is a dynamic and practical teaching method that connects university classroom content and skills with meeting community-identified needs. This balanced combination of community service and academic content is grounded in critical, reflective thinking, and civic responsibility (Bringle and Hatcher, 1995).
Purdue Educational Leader Fellows
Complementary community- based field experiences (Greunewald & Smith, 2010), such as the Purdue Educational Leader Fellows, are available to candidates and provide further opportunities for them to engage and practice their profession.
Efforts to recruit candidates from a broad range of backgrounds and diverse populations (CAEP 3) are hallmarks of Revolutionizing the Educational Workforce: (Confidential) Page 66 PNW’s EPP Plan for Recruitment (REW). The REW identifies three goals that guide the work of the EPP: 1) to develop and expand relationships with community partners; 2) to increase diversity of candidates within degree/licensure programs; and 3) to create unique and diverse opportunities for candidates to engage in their profession. Through community partnerships, candidates are provided with diverse opportunities to experience life and work within a variety of roles inside and outside of traditional educational environments while simultaneously supporting the community to address complex issues. Similarly, research shows that when people from diverse backgrounds and experience are brought together they generate innovative ideas, engage in varied experiences, and develop a more inclusive place for learning that acknowledges the diverse needs and strengths of learners.
Impacting Student Learning
The Application of Educators’ Knowledge, Skills and Dispositions to Impact Student Learning: A Case Study of an Educator Preparation Program provides evidence that completers are able to integrate cultural awareness in their instruction to meet the learning needs within their classrooms (CAEP 4). Surveys of principals used in this analysis indicate that 96% of novice educators prepared by PNW are considered to be ‘effective’ or ‘highly effective’ in their classrooms. They indicated that completers provide inclusive learning environments and work effectively with exceptional learners. Surveys of teachers (i.e., completers of the PNW EPP) indicated that they too felt prepared to provide inclusive, safe and positive learning environments. Practitioners indicate that they are able to differentiate instruction to meet the needs of all learners and provide appropriate and challenging learning experiences.
Nieto, S. (2006). Teaching as political work: Learning from courageous and caring teachers. Bronxville, NY: Sarah Lawrence College, Child Development Institute. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED497692
The PNW Educator Preparation Program works collaboratively with its candidates, clinical partners, faculty and staff members to create and sustain a community where all feel welcomed, respected and included.
We are committed to diverse working and learning environments which improve intellectual skills and performance, improve self-confidence, decrease stereotypes and biases, and create awareness of inequalities and discrimination that are able to be addressed through engagement in emancipatory learning.
It is through this engagement that we draw on the full contributions of all segments of society regardless of their race or ethnic identity, sexual orientation, religion, age, gender expression, disability status,socio-economic status or any other dimension of diversity.
Cross-Cutting Theme: Technology
Technology is integrated across all functions and operations of the Purdue University Northwest (PNW) Education Preparation Program (EPP) at PNW, as reflected in The Educational Leader conceptual framework and is essential for instruction, assessment and communication. Technology is foundational as both a tool and as an essential component of pedagogical and content knowledge and skills. The vision and the mission of technology and its uses within the EPP are led by the newly-formed Technology Task Force, comprised of EPP faculty, clinical partners as well as university staff (e.g., Supervisor of the Office of Instructional Technology). The Technology Task Force is charged with guiding the EPP in its uses of technology as well as informing the program areas about appropriate and relevant innovations in technology related to curriculum and instruction, assessment of candidate knowledge and skills as well as communication and processes.
The standards established by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE Standards) have been adopted by the Educator Preparation Program (EPP) at Purdue University Northwest. These serve as the framework for the integration of technology skills developed by teacher candidates throughout their program. The standards address the needs of both educators and learners. ISTE Standards for Educators define the requisite skills and pedagogical knowledge for educators to teach, work and learn. They are designed to “deepen…practice, promote collaboration with peers, challenge…to rethink traditional approaches and prepare students to drive their own learning.” (ISTE, 2020). Simultaneously, candidates are expected to apply the ISTE Standards for Students as they develop learning segments, prepare instructional materials and complete assessments to demonstrate student learning. The ISTE Standards for Students describe the “skills and knowledge students need to grow, thrive and contribute in a global, interconnected and constantly changing society.” (ISTE, 2020).
The ISTE Standards are embedded in courses across each degree program, and aligned to the core standards and assessments adopted by the EPP, including InTASC, Specialized Professional Assessment (SPA) Standards, and the North Dakota Common Metrics Skills of Teaching Observation Tool (STOT). The ISTE Standards have further been aligned with diversity standards to ensure that teacher candidates receive an education that is mindful of the importance of both traditional and digital equity (Matrix of ISTE Standards by Course). Teacher candidates engage with both the ISTE Standards for Students and the ISTE Standards for Educators during their program of study. However, they are measured by the ISTE Standards for Educators with regard to their coursework (CAEP 1).
Coursework and Field Use
The use of technology within the classroom (i.e., clinical field placement) provides opportunities for candidates to experiment with pedagogy, democratize the learning space, and better engage learners. In this way, technology facilitates interaction between educator and learners. As part of their field-based experiences, candidates are required to develop and implement lessons that incorporate technology. Candidates bridge theory to practice and build on the content learned in the university classroom through the application in the field-based experience. Field guides for these experiences as well as the university course syllabi specify the technological integrations candidates are to employ within the experience (CAEP 2).
Technology is a critical element of the communication processes adopted by the EPP, including recruitment and retention efforts. Electronic reporting tools such as the SoEC Newsletter, the STAR Report and the databases used to track prospective and incoming candidates allow the EPP to be focused and targeted in the communication to stakeholders. Further, technology is employed by the EPP in its communications with community partners, clinical educators, and candidates (e.g., STEPP). It is an integral aspect of recruiting, selecting, and monitoring candidate academic progress and advancement (CAEP 3).
Findings of Data
The Surveys of Principals and Teachers conducted by the Indiana Department of Education, (CAEP 4) also provide information about the EPP completers’ use of technology. For the indicator that the teacher was prepared to “integrate technology as appropriate to advance student learning,” the principals’ ratings were all “Agree” or “Strongly Agree.” The EPP completers responded to the same question and 89% indicated “Agree” or Strongly Agree.” This points to a relative strength in the program completers’ self-efficacy for the use of technology.
Following the recommendations of the US Department of Education (2016), the EPP has aspired to provide “both faculty and pre-service teachers with regular exposure to and experience with teaching and learning technologies and strategies relevant to online, blended and face-to-face environments and their affordances and constraints.” To that end, the EPP has evidence that technology has been integrated across and throughout programs of study. Yet, the efficacy of candidate’s use and integration of technology within their pedagogical practices is not currently formally assessed. This, coupled with proposed changes to technological requirements for novice educators from the state legislature (i.e., the need for educators to teach coding), indicates that further attention to technology and coding is needed. As a means to address this concern, the EPP has created a technology task force that will make recommendations to faculty members in each of the program area that will identify specific measures for use in assessing educator progress in technology integration and where the development of ‘coding’ understandings will occur.
The School of Education and Counseling at Purdue University Northwest believes that technology and media are essential tools for teaching and learning and critical for thinking, creating, adapting and inventing.
Purposeful, intentional and integrated use of technology empowers individuals to answer big questions,explore new ideas, test and verify hypotheses, produce original and creative work, and demonstrate concept mastery.
The SoEC prepares educators and counselors to support all learners to select, apply, and use appropriate technology and media resources as they make connections from concepts to the classroom to the community by accessing, discerning and applying information.