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Essays on Teacher Preparation by Workshop Participants

Steve C. Good

Department of Geology & Astronomy
West Chester University
West Chester, Pennsylvania

West Chester University (WCU) is the second largest (12,500 students) of the PA State System of Higher Education (SSHE) with a service area that ranges from urban Philadelphia to affluent suburbs to very rural areas. WCU is a regional comprehensive university located about 25 miles west of Philadelphia. About a third of WCU students are in teacher preparation programs, making WCU the largest trainer of teachers in the state of PA. The Department of Geology & Astronomy (G&A) maintains approximately 75 majors subequally divided between the BS and BSEd programs. Graduate employment prospects are excellent (environmental consulting industry is thriving, and regional demographics project school population growth and demand for teachers to continue for foreseeable future).

Recent Challenges
Teacher preparation has multiple challenges, with mandates for change coming from all "stakeholders".

Student and Parent Mandate
The vocationalization of higher education is most strongly pronounced at public colleges & universities. Simply put, our students and their parents want our graduates to get jobs, and that their education should be highly focused on developing those skills needed for the workplace.

SSHE & University Mandates
WCU shares similar challenges to state universities across the nation: legislature mandates to:

External Mandates
State government has forced changes in PA Department of Education (PDE) teacher preparation requirements (GPA of 3.0+, identical content requirements for BSEd as BS, post-graduation mentoring, etc.). Federal government has forced changes (NCLB-national report card, teacher certification flexible & accelerated yet "highly qualified", etc.).

SUMMARY: I feel that I am spending more time proving that I am doing my job than actually doing my job.

WCU Department of Geology and Astronomy Response
Our department response was to establish uniform cores to all baccalaureate programs to facilitate career flexibility for our students and to maximize enrollments in our majors courses. A second objective was to establish equitable distribution of required courses among our ten faculty members. The new program is approved and will begin Fall, 2003.

Our department reduced our BSEd program from 135 credits to 120 credits, and our BS program from about 130 credits to 120 credits. This was accomplished by redistributing credits from a mixture of 3 & 4 credit to uniform 3 credits, and in the BS program by reducing the required associated science and math coursework (while strongly advising our students to take more associated science and math courses).

Our department has reduced our number of BS tracks from three (Geology, Environmental Geology, and Earth Systems) to two (Geology & Earth Systems); and BSEd tracks from three (Astronomy, Geology, and Environmental Geology) to one track (Earth & Space Science). We have defined a core of 10 courses that both the BS and BSEd students will complete, which provide the core preparation for ASBOG "Fundamentals of Geology" exam for Professional Geologist Certification. The BS Earth Systems and BSEd programs require an additional 3 courses (Astronomy, Meteorology, Oceanography), since these courses are required as preparation for the Praxis Earth and Space Science Content Knowledge exam and by the PDE teacher preparation standards.

Future Challenges: With our BSEd program at 120 credits, it is efficient. However, it may be too efficient for NCATE (and its required folio that must approved by NSTA ... not to mention when will I have time to produce that folio).

Steve Good's Thoughts on Critical Contributions:

1. Recruiting, mentoring, advising future teachers
Issues and roles of Geosci. Dept Effective Activities within geosci depts. 2. Role of Introductory courses in teacher preparation
Issues and roles of Geosci. Dept Effective Activities within geosci depts. 3. Research & teaching experiences for future teachers
Issues and roles of Geosci. Dept Effective Activities within geosci depts. 4. Links between education and geoscience departments
Issues and roles of Geology Dept Effective Activities within geosci depts. 5. Supporting alumni in the teaching profession
Issues and roles of Geosci. Dept Effective Activities within geosci depts.

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